Accepted paper:

The wandering of the voice through imaginary and intimate landscapes in capoeira singing


Federica Toldo

Paper short abstract:

Many songs that accompany the Afro-Brazilian bodily practice of capoeira tell of places which are settings for tales of legendary capoeiristas, and slavery. Mixing geographical imagination and reality, this articulated landscape evoked by the singing mixes features that are suitable to support memories of an unknown, but real and intimate past.

Paper long abstract:

The lyrical repertoire that accompanies the Afro-Brazilian fighting dance, capoeira, is largely composed of songs about geographical places (Rêgo, 1968 ). Among these, some are imaginary, such as "Aruanda," an overseas site ‒ somewhere in Africa ‒ where, to many capoeira practitioners, the souls of Afro-descendants return. Many other places are real. Thus, foreign countries and continents (particularly Africa) and other Brazilian cities are evoked by the singer. Many songs explore the urban landscape of the city of Salvador (streets, places, paths, churches), as well as the surrounding rural villages and natural sites. The sung narrative wanders from the imaginary ‒ even though it is highly meaningful and intimate ‒ and from faraway and unknown locations, to entirely concrete and familiar places. This articulated landscape, built by sudden movements between imaginary and real places, seems particularly apt to confer plausibility and immanence to sung narratives about the past, especially about legendary old capoeiristas and slavery. The shifting to places that are less and less alien to the singer's actual placement confers credibility to the narrative. The everyday landscape begin to echo echoing memories that are inaccessible to individual experience, but become more and more plausible and vivid, like a direct memory, born of individual experience.

panel WMW10
Listening landscapes, speaking memories