August 3, 2010

Learn more about Brazilian Music and Culture: Choro

Pintura por Cândido Portinari (domínio público)

Most of my students have heard of samba and bossa-nova*... but it is much harder to find those who know what Choro ou Chorinho is. Well, if you are like them, you need no longer miss out on this beautiful style of music.

Choro means 'cry'. It is the noun as in "um choro triste" (a sad cry) (so the first 'o' is pronounced like an 'ô', not like an 'ó'... as opposed to the verb spelled the same way, but pronounced with an ó) ... but the rhythm is most often very happy and upbeat (there seem to be a couple of different ideas on why that is the name, and since I don't know the answer, I won't go it to it). Here is a Brazilian advertisement that makes a joke based on the name of the style, where you can also hear an example of chorinho (don't worry if you don't get the joke!):

Chorinho is considered the first popular urban style of music created in Brazil (originating in the 19th century) and it is stil played in Brazil today.

If you are in New York City,  you can go to a Choro concert right here in the city! The Choro Ensemble is playing at Zinc Bar tomorrow night (04 de Agosto)!

To learn a little bit more about chorinho, read one of these articles:
To learn about the instruments used in chorinho, see my other post with a vocabulary lesson about musical instruments in Portuguese.

To enjoy the music (and hear a little bit of Portuguese), you can watch the documentary "The sound of Rio: Brasileirinho"(imdb). If you are an advanced student, it may be good listening practice. You may try it even if you are a beginner, as there is a lot of music and not too much talking anyway:

*If you are an upper-intermediate or advanced student and really love Bossa nova, you should check this book out!

Hope to see you at Zinc bar!


  1. Olá! I found this blog yesterday when I was trying to figure out how to get the brazilian portuguese setting for my Mac keyboard to work. Your list of 5 short cut keys was very helpful!
    This morning I looked at a few more posts and wanted to try transcribing the short message in the credit card commercial above. What I came up with was this,
    "Agora, isso é o unico tipo do chorinho que posso viver... cartão Quero Quero, o jeito mais fácil tu conseguir quantas e vontades." I'm not sure about a couple of the words at the end, would you tell me if anything needs to be changed?
    ~ Mary

  2. Oi Mary, Thank you so much for the lovely comment! Great job on the transcription! I am glad the post was helpful.


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