Música da Copa do Mundo: Curitiba

In the Brazilian rainforest, there grew a mystical tree that… oh who are we kidding. Sounds like the voiceover to one of those pathetic pitch videos. Stop reading this caption, and read the article. That's an order.

In the Brazilian rainforest, there grew a mystical tree that… oh who are we kidding. Sounds like the voiceover to one of those pathetic pitch videos. Stop reading this caption, and read the article. That’s an order.

This is our third article in a series by musician Alastair Kerr looking at the musical traditions of each of the host cities for the fully-sponsored-and-trademarked 2014 FIFA World Cup™. So far we’ve pondered the musical culture of Cuiabá and Porto Alegre. Today we turn the spotlight on Curitiba.

Brazil has music up the wazoo.  (And not just Ai Se Eu Te Pego, an aural enema, as it were.)  There are many variations of samba, the subtlety of bossa nova, great orchestral works, the intricate melodies of choro, carnaval marches, ceremonial drumming in Candomble.  Regional variations on the major genres are plentiful and it is a country with a rich heritage of folkloric music.

Then there is Curitiba.

Have the World Cup organisers cleverly paired host cities with the competing countries?  It is perhaps appropriate that Australia’s World Cup campaign will end in Curitiba on June 23.  (Let’s not kid ourselves, the Socceroos will only need to pack enough magic water for the group matches.)

The poet Paulo Leminski described Curitiba as “anal retention.” He went on: “Our Sin is avarice. To create is waste.” Leminski went further, pre-dating the Howard era’s relaxed-and-comfortable mantra as he lamented cultural consumerism: “Access to the industrial goods of civilization, the great existential adventure of the middle class.” Ouch.

So have the World Cup organisers cleverly paired host cities with the competing countries? Is that unfair on the Spanish in this instance?

So, what is Curitiba’s claim to fame? Daniella Thompson suggested that the expansion of the automotive industry had led Curitiba to become “the Detroit of South America.” But at least Detroit had Motown Records. The FIFA website spruiks Curitiba’s excellent public transport system. Important for hosting a major event, but not really selling the city to us. Curitiba can lay claim to the first pedestrian-only street in Brazil, but then, even Launceston had a mall by 1975.

Before I started writing these articles on the music of World Cup cities, a friend pondered what I could write about Curitiba.  “You could get a photo of people watching the traffic lights working.  Or maybe of a roundabout.”  Some years ago Mark Dapin wrote regularly of the roundabouts of Australia in his weekly column for Good Weekend, so seeking some kind of cultural link between Australia and Curitiba seemed like a good way to go.

I couldn’t find a photo of a roundabout in Curitiba, so instead, enjoy prog-rockers Yes, performing their song Roundabout, in Curitiba.  You’ll particularly enjoy the karaoke elements to the performance.

And don’t worry, we’ll come to a Brazilian city with a rich music scene soon…

Drummer/percussionist Alastair Kerr has performed with many of Australia’s finest jazz musicians. He is recognized as one of Australia’s leading Brazilian percussionists.