Harmony and objective effort – Review by Luciana Requião (IEAR/UFF), on the book “Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – the music of migrant workers in Amazonas”, by Bernardo Mesquita.

Bernardo Mesquita (2023) | Image: cultura.am.gov.br

Abstract: The work significantly expands studies on the work of musicians in Brazil. The author presents, with the rigor of the dialectical historical materialist method, the trajectory of migrant worker musicians who lived between the banks of the rivers and the capital of the state of Amazonas, and reveals the motivations related to the subsistence of these workers in the transit between the rural and urban environments of Amazonas and their subordination to the capitalist production process.

Keywords: Working musicians, Amazonas, Capitalist mode of production.


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in work studies in the field of music, considering those carried out in an emic way, that is, from the perspective of the subject who seeks to understand the phenomenon from an “inside” perspective. However, those carried out under the prism of dialectical historical materialism are rare. “Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – the music of migrant workers in the Amazon”, a book by musician, professor and researcher Bernardo Mesquita, is one such example. Published in 2022 by the publisher Manauara Valer, it aims to trace the trajectory of three generations of migrant musician workers in the Amazonian territory, constituted in the transit between the rural space on the banks of the rivers and the urban space. The book is prefaced by the coordinating musician of the channel “Portal do Beiradão” Hadail Mesquita and begins with an introduction written by the author.

Bernardo Mesquita is a master and doctor in Ethnomusicology, composer, musician and researcher of topics such as: music, class struggle, history of Carimbó and the batuques, Afro-Caribbean music in the Amazon and teaches “Folklore” and Ethnomusicology in the music course at the State University of Amazonas (UEA). The book is divided into 30 sections that don’t necessarily need to be read in order. In each of them, the author deals with a theme (such as “The parties of the Saints in Manaus” or “Class struggle and copyright of working musicians”), musical formations such as Lacapaca or the biography of a musician active in the region. The latter is always preceded by a caricature of the musician, illustrated by Reginaldo Moreira. The critical tone of the capitalist forms of existence and human sociability to which musicians from the Amazon are subjected permeates the entire work.

In the introduction, as the author tells us, “this work does not consist of a History of Music in the Amazon, it is a historical interpretation of the musical experience of migrant workers” (p.11) that will configure modern Amazonian music, formed by a process of expansion of the music market in the region from the 1960s. ”, “formed by musicians who were born at the beginning of the [XX] century and performed between the 20s, 30s and 40s and who started a musical transit between the capital and the countryside” (p.16). This transit, also experienced by later generations, is shown as a consequence of the stages of economic development in the region, which went through the decline of the extractive system and reached industrial modernity.

In this movement, the music that was initially more linked to religious festivities and family or popular celebrations was giving way to commercial music. Mainly between the 1950s and 1980s, popular music became more autonomous, when it separated itself from the ritualistic sphere and became commercialized. Thus, if at one point musicians could perform out of “devotion”, little by little this relationship became “professionalized” and cash remuneration became the primary exchange value for the service provided. The adaptation to the market did not happen without conflicts, often observing the difficulty in “assimiling a more impersonal logic imposed by the new phonographic order to which they were submitted” (p.141). However, the tendency would be to adapt to market logic.

Even with the effervescence of musical life in the Amazon, whether in military bands, celebrations, clubs, cinemas and theaters, on the radio or in churches, Mesquita observes that musicians often did not obtain sufficient material resources for their livelihood, being forced to leave the musical profession or fulfill strenuous workdays in different professions.

It is interesting to note that, if at a certain moment the amount paid to musicians who entered the phonographic environment was increased – as was the case of one of the saxophonists interviewed by Mesquita –, at another, when technology allowed the use of synthesizer keyboards, this same type of musician lost his job, being replaced by the machine. In addition, “from 1975 onwards, already under the influence of the Manaus Free Trade Zone, clubs began not to hire bands frequently (…), sound equipment and record players began to meet a good part of the city’s musical demand” (p.193).

An issue little discussed in the literature on musical work in Brazil – ageism – appears in a sensitive way in Bernardo Mesquita’s text: “Toinho experienced the euphoria of growth and the dismay of the decline of this productive cycle of the capitalist music industry. Without deserved recognition, Toinho became an invisible musician” (p.169). The precariousness of the musicians’ working conditions is felt not only by the forgetfulness of the artist, but by the lack of structure in this profession, which suffers from a more effective and welcoming labor organization, despite some attempts, such as on the occasion of the creation of the Associação Profissional dos Músicos de Manaus, in 1957 or, in 1983, with the Associação dos Músicos do Amazonas, “which did not have a long life” (p.324).

Finally, the author analyzes the musical sound produced in the 1980s, attesting to a wide range of musical genres that influenced and transformed Amazonian music, with emphasis on the exchange between Pará and Amazonas. Determining in this process of migratory flow, which required the musician to be extremely adaptable, was the radio and the influence of North American music.

Sequence – Hadail Mesquita e Bloco Raíz (2018) | Image: Portal do Beiradão

 

From these influences, the eave is born, no longer related to riversides, but rather a kind of iconic genre of Amazonian music. The author seeks to deconstruct this idea, reinforcing that it is necessary to understand the historicity of this process, the material basis and the contradictions of the class struggle, so that the essence of the musical practices of migrant musicians from Amazonas can be revealed to us.

Even with all the richness of the analysis undertaken, the author leaves a gap with regard to women’s participation. Only on page 90 can we see a photograph of the female band from Colégio Benjamim Constante, 1959. Nevertheless, the work makes a significant contribution to studies on work in the field of music in Brazil, not only for the approach that seeks an understanding of the musical phenomenon beyond its most immediate evidence, but also for introducing us to the musical life of the North region, still so unknown to those who are much further down the equator.

Thus, the work fulfills the objective of presenting us with the trajectory of migrant musician workers in the Amazonian territory, at the same time that it shows the political-economic transformation of the region, which goes from a pre-industrial rurality to a dependent industrial urbanization. The author demonstrates how much the musicians’ circulation process, constituted in the transit between the rural space on the banks of the rivers and the urban space, constitutes a dialectical movement from the capitalist expansion in the region. Finally, we realize that the richness of this work lies in Mesquita’s materialistic analysis, which seeks to deconstruct idealistic stereotypes about music production in the state of Amazonas, highlighting repertoires, instrumental formations, urban and rural spaces where musical practice takes place, work relations, the influence of technological development on music production, remuneration, promotion, phonographic production, musical training, among other determinants for the constitution of the so-called “music from the edge”.

Summary of Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – a música dos trabalhadores migrantes no Amazonas

  • Prefácio
  • Introdução
  • Da terra firme à várzea: o movimento dos trabalhadores músicos migrantes
  • Festas em movimento
  • As festas de santos em Manaus
  • Eliberto Barroncas
  • Gambá
  • A música nas festas de devoção: o caso do Careiro da Várzea
  • As bandas de música do Amazonas
  • Chico Caju
  • Lacapaca
  • Jazz Barreiros: os músicos barbeiros no Amazonas
  • A presença da valsa
  • O jazz no Amazonas e a primeira geração no trânsito musical
  • Economia da música nas beiradas: mercado musical nos municípios e comunidades do Amazonas
  • Toinho Bindá
  • O rádio, o cinema, o rock e os festivais de dublagem: a expansão da indústria capitalista da música em Manaus
  • Roberto Bopp
  • Um carrapicho anti-imperialista
  • O nativismo musical na Amazônia: Amazonas e Pará
  • A indústria fonográfica e a reprodução capitalista dependente
  • Dj e Mc Fino
  • Pinduca e a racionalização capitalista da música
  • Teixeira de Manaus
  • Oseas da Guitarra
  • Segmentação-regionalização do popular romântico na crise da indústria dos anos 80
  • Nunes Filho
  • O popular – romântico
  • Marinho Saúba
  • Chiquinho David
  • Luta de classes e direitos autorais dos trabalhadores músicos
  • A formação do beiradão
  • Considerações finais

To broaden your literature review


About the reviewer

Luciana Requião – PhD in Education from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) and Master in Music from Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), professor at the Instituto de Educação de Angra dos Reis (IEAR/UFF) and at the Graduate Program in Music at UNIRIO. He published, among others, “Eis aí a Lapa…: processos e relações de trabalho do músico nas casas de shows da Lapa” (São Paulo: Annablume, 2010) e “Festa acabada, músicos a pé!”: um estudo crítico sobre as relações de trabalho de músicos atuantes no estado do Rio de Janeiro” (2016). ID: LATTES: http://lattes.cnpq.br/2687869588131721 ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0351-0578; E-mail: [email protected]; Instagram: lucianareq.


To cite this review

MESQUITA, Bernardo. Das Beiradas ao Beiradão: a música dos trabalhadores migrantes no Amazonas. Manaus: Editora Valer, 2022. 384p. Review of: REQUIÃO, Luciana. A música como trabalho. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.11, May/June, 2023. Available in <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/a-musica-como-trabalho-resenha-de-luciana-requiao-iear-uff-sobre-o-livro-das-beiradas-ao-beiradao-a-musica-dos-trabalhadores-migrantes-no-amazonas-de-bernardo/>.


© – The authors who publish in Crítica Historiográfica agree to the distribution, remixing, adaptation and creation of their texts, even for commercial purposes, provided that due credit is guaranteed for the original creations. (CC BY-SA).

 

Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n. 11, May/June, 2023 | ISSN 2764-2666

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Harmony and objective effort – Review by Luciana Requião (IEAR/UFF), on the book “Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – the music of migrant workers in Amazonas”, by Bernardo Mesquita.

Bernardo Mesquita (2023) | Image: cultura.am.gov.br

Abstract: The work significantly expands studies on the work of musicians in Brazil. The author presents, with the rigor of the dialectical historical materialist method, the trajectory of migrant worker musicians who lived between the banks of the rivers and the capital of the state of Amazonas, and reveals the motivations related to the subsistence of these workers in the transit between the rural and urban environments of Amazonas and their subordination to the capitalist production process.

Keywords: Working musicians, Amazonas, Capitalist mode of production.


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in work studies in the field of music, considering those carried out in an emic way, that is, from the perspective of the subject who seeks to understand the phenomenon from an “inside” perspective. However, those carried out under the prism of dialectical historical materialism are rare. “Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – the music of migrant workers in the Amazon”, a book by musician, professor and researcher Bernardo Mesquita, is one such example. Published in 2022 by the publisher Manauara Valer, it aims to trace the trajectory of three generations of migrant musician workers in the Amazonian territory, constituted in the transit between the rural space on the banks of the rivers and the urban space. The book is prefaced by the coordinating musician of the channel “Portal do Beiradão” Hadail Mesquita and begins with an introduction written by the author.

Bernardo Mesquita is a master and doctor in Ethnomusicology, composer, musician and researcher of topics such as: music, class struggle, history of Carimbó and the batuques, Afro-Caribbean music in the Amazon and teaches “Folklore” and Ethnomusicology in the music course at the State University of Amazonas (UEA). The book is divided into 30 sections that don’t necessarily need to be read in order. In each of them, the author deals with a theme (such as “The parties of the Saints in Manaus” or “Class struggle and copyright of working musicians”), musical formations such as Lacapaca or the biography of a musician active in the region. The latter is always preceded by a caricature of the musician, illustrated by Reginaldo Moreira. The critical tone of the capitalist forms of existence and human sociability to which musicians from the Amazon are subjected permeates the entire work.

In the introduction, as the author tells us, “this work does not consist of a History of Music in the Amazon, it is a historical interpretation of the musical experience of migrant workers” (p.11) that will configure modern Amazonian music, formed by a process of expansion of the music market in the region from the 1960s. ”, “formed by musicians who were born at the beginning of the [XX] century and performed between the 20s, 30s and 40s and who started a musical transit between the capital and the countryside” (p.16). This transit, also experienced by later generations, is shown as a consequence of the stages of economic development in the region, which went through the decline of the extractive system and reached industrial modernity.

In this movement, the music that was initially more linked to religious festivities and family or popular celebrations was giving way to commercial music. Mainly between the 1950s and 1980s, popular music became more autonomous, when it separated itself from the ritualistic sphere and became commercialized. Thus, if at one point musicians could perform out of “devotion”, little by little this relationship became “professionalized” and cash remuneration became the primary exchange value for the service provided. The adaptation to the market did not happen without conflicts, often observing the difficulty in “assimiling a more impersonal logic imposed by the new phonographic order to which they were submitted” (p.141). However, the tendency would be to adapt to market logic.

Even with the effervescence of musical life in the Amazon, whether in military bands, celebrations, clubs, cinemas and theaters, on the radio or in churches, Mesquita observes that musicians often did not obtain sufficient material resources for their livelihood, being forced to leave the musical profession or fulfill strenuous workdays in different professions.

It is interesting to note that, if at a certain moment the amount paid to musicians who entered the phonographic environment was increased – as was the case of one of the saxophonists interviewed by Mesquita –, at another, when technology allowed the use of synthesizer keyboards, this same type of musician lost his job, being replaced by the machine. In addition, “from 1975 onwards, already under the influence of the Manaus Free Trade Zone, clubs began not to hire bands frequently (…), sound equipment and record players began to meet a good part of the city’s musical demand” (p.193).

An issue little discussed in the literature on musical work in Brazil – ageism – appears in a sensitive way in Bernardo Mesquita’s text: “Toinho experienced the euphoria of growth and the dismay of the decline of this productive cycle of the capitalist music industry. Without deserved recognition, Toinho became an invisible musician” (p.169). The precariousness of the musicians’ working conditions is felt not only by the forgetfulness of the artist, but by the lack of structure in this profession, which suffers from a more effective and welcoming labor organization, despite some attempts, such as on the occasion of the creation of the Associação Profissional dos Músicos de Manaus, in 1957 or, in 1983, with the Associação dos Músicos do Amazonas, “which did not have a long life” (p.324).

Finally, the author analyzes the musical sound produced in the 1980s, attesting to a wide range of musical genres that influenced and transformed Amazonian music, with emphasis on the exchange between Pará and Amazonas. Determining in this process of migratory flow, which required the musician to be extremely adaptable, was the radio and the influence of North American music.

Sequence – Hadail Mesquita e Bloco Raíz (2018) | Image: Portal do Beiradão

 

From these influences, the eave is born, no longer related to riversides, but rather a kind of iconic genre of Amazonian music. The author seeks to deconstruct this idea, reinforcing that it is necessary to understand the historicity of this process, the material basis and the contradictions of the class struggle, so that the essence of the musical practices of migrant musicians from Amazonas can be revealed to us.

Even with all the richness of the analysis undertaken, the author leaves a gap with regard to women’s participation. Only on page 90 can we see a photograph of the female band from Colégio Benjamim Constante, 1959. Nevertheless, the work makes a significant contribution to studies on work in the field of music in Brazil, not only for the approach that seeks an understanding of the musical phenomenon beyond its most immediate evidence, but also for introducing us to the musical life of the North region, still so unknown to those who are much further down the equator.

Thus, the work fulfills the objective of presenting us with the trajectory of migrant musician workers in the Amazonian territory, at the same time that it shows the political-economic transformation of the region, which goes from a pre-industrial rurality to a dependent industrial urbanization. The author demonstrates how much the musicians’ circulation process, constituted in the transit between the rural space on the banks of the rivers and the urban space, constitutes a dialectical movement from the capitalist expansion in the region. Finally, we realize that the richness of this work lies in Mesquita’s materialistic analysis, which seeks to deconstruct idealistic stereotypes about music production in the state of Amazonas, highlighting repertoires, instrumental formations, urban and rural spaces where musical practice takes place, work relations, the influence of technological development on music production, remuneration, promotion, phonographic production, musical training, among other determinants for the constitution of the so-called “music from the edge”.

Summary of Das Beiradas ao Beiradão – a música dos trabalhadores migrantes no Amazonas

  • Prefácio
  • Introdução
  • Da terra firme à várzea: o movimento dos trabalhadores músicos migrantes
  • Festas em movimento
  • As festas de santos em Manaus
  • Eliberto Barroncas
  • Gambá
  • A música nas festas de devoção: o caso do Careiro da Várzea
  • As bandas de música do Amazonas
  • Chico Caju
  • Lacapaca
  • Jazz Barreiros: os músicos barbeiros no Amazonas
  • A presença da valsa
  • O jazz no Amazonas e a primeira geração no trânsito musical
  • Economia da música nas beiradas: mercado musical nos municípios e comunidades do Amazonas
  • Toinho Bindá
  • O rádio, o cinema, o rock e os festivais de dublagem: a expansão da indústria capitalista da música em Manaus
  • Roberto Bopp
  • Um carrapicho anti-imperialista
  • O nativismo musical na Amazônia: Amazonas e Pará
  • A indústria fonográfica e a reprodução capitalista dependente
  • Dj e Mc Fino
  • Pinduca e a racionalização capitalista da música
  • Teixeira de Manaus
  • Oseas da Guitarra
  • Segmentação-regionalização do popular romântico na crise da indústria dos anos 80
  • Nunes Filho
  • O popular – romântico
  • Marinho Saúba
  • Chiquinho David
  • Luta de classes e direitos autorais dos trabalhadores músicos
  • A formação do beiradão
  • Considerações finais

To broaden your literature review


About the reviewer

Luciana Requião – PhD in Education from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) and Master in Music from Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO), professor at the Instituto de Educação de Angra dos Reis (IEAR/UFF) and at the Graduate Program in Music at UNIRIO. He published, among others, “Eis aí a Lapa…: processos e relações de trabalho do músico nas casas de shows da Lapa” (São Paulo: Annablume, 2010) e “Festa acabada, músicos a pé!”: um estudo crítico sobre as relações de trabalho de músicos atuantes no estado do Rio de Janeiro” (2016). ID: LATTES: http://lattes.cnpq.br/2687869588131721 ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0351-0578; E-mail: [email protected]; Instagram: lucianareq.


To cite this review

MESQUITA, Bernardo. Das Beiradas ao Beiradão: a música dos trabalhadores migrantes no Amazonas. Manaus: Editora Valer, 2022. 384p. Review of: REQUIÃO, Luciana. A música como trabalho. Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n.11, May/June, 2023. Available in <https://www.criticahistoriografica.com.br/a-musica-como-trabalho-resenha-de-luciana-requiao-iear-uff-sobre-o-livro-das-beiradas-ao-beiradao-a-musica-dos-trabalhadores-migrantes-no-amazonas-de-bernardo/>.


© – The authors who publish in Crítica Historiográfica agree to the distribution, remixing, adaptation and creation of their texts, even for commercial purposes, provided that due credit is guaranteed for the original creations. (CC BY-SA).

 

Crítica Historiográfica. Natal, v.3, n. 11, May/June, 2023 | ISSN 2764-2666

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