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Emiliano Benevides© 2003

We may hear the following phrases in various regions in Brazil-"Let's play some forró!" "Let's go to a forró(or forrobodó)!"

FORRÓ can mean a party, a group of people going to some one's house or a ballroom
to dance different rhythms of the Northeast such as: coco, xaxado, baião, embolado, xote among others. So when we say forró we are talking about a genre of music and dance that
came from Northeast of Brazil and not a specific rhythm.

Developed in almost all states of the Northeast, the forró was played by "BANDAS DE PIFANOS" for private parties or ballroom and for many different celebrations. The band was composed of two pífanos ( small bamboo or tube(PVC) flute), zabumba ( bass drum played with two sticks-The top one giving the open bass tone and other stick giving the higher pitched sound ) and caixa ( snare drum ). These instruments can be traced back to instruments used on the Iberian peninsula and in Italy hundreds of years ago and that are still played to this day. In Italy and the Iberian peninsula they would play these instruments at many different events-religious festivals, etc. In Portugal and Spain there was a heavy Arabic influence. This was brought to Brazil where it blended with indigenous music giving us
what is forró.

In the 40's one young virtuoso accordion player Luis Gonzaga, known as "O Rei do Baião/ The Baião's King", started to perform on a radio program. He played the accordion accompanied by the radio's orchestra using chorinho instrumentation-guitar, cavaquinho and other minor percussion instruments. The triangle was incorporated later on with a fast polyrhythmic pattern.

Playing this northeastern rhythm in Rio de Janeiro he caught the attention of people all over Brazil. After the song "BAIÃO" was released in 1946 it became a great hit-if there was a radio everybody was dancing and singing with it. Because of this Luis Gonzaga is credited with inventing modern baião. Artist like Trio Nordestino, Jackson do Pandeiro among others are
also fundamental to the popularization of baião.

Today the baião and the whole forró family is coming back into fashion and is starting to be played on the radio again. Young artists are playing it incorporating other non-traditional instruments like drum set, bass, and guitar.

Some artist that I recommend:
Luis Gonzaga, Jackson do Pandeiro, Valdir Azevedo, João do Valle, Dominguinhos, Banda de Pífanos, Elba Ramalho, Sivuca, Airto Moreira, Hermeto Pascoal, Gilberto Gil (CD Eu, Tu Ele), Trio Nordestino and many classic compilations of forró.

Emiliano Benevides