Gerard Béhague

Latin American Music Review, Volume 27, Number 1, Spring/Summer
2006, pp. 91-103 (Article)
DOI: 10.1353/lat.2006.0022

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PM 91 10/26/06. It seeks to explain not only the structure of the musical product of a given society but also all elements—ethnic. To use Charles Seeger’s terminology (1977). The context is related to questions of musical behavior which reflect the complexities of the social organization of a given group or community. the field of ethnomusicology is concerned with the analytical study of the process of variation of a musical text. in essence. Box 7819. We firmly believe that because of its internally redundant nature. social. music is perhaps the most highly structured expressive behavior of mankind. cultivation and transmission of such traditions as folk music. 10:58 AM . Spring/Summer 2006 © 2006 by the University of Texas Press. Volume 27. It relies consequently on both musicological and anthropological perspectives in its analytic approach. it is one of the most powerful tools of human self-expression. Number 1. on the one hand. Ethnomusicology concerns itself essentially with non-written musical traditions and attempts to integrate musical expressions of a given culture or community group with the whole cultural complex of that group. 1992) Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics: A Case of Cultural Pluralism One may wonder how music can be considered a reflection of cultural values and of worldviews in general.O. and in particular of the cultural values of that community. whether in terms of Latin American Music Review. we can assume that a folk or traditional music is. and the social context for music making. economic—that combine to establish the uniqueness of that product. historical. Music also operates as a strong agent of social cohesion. Because we have learned from cultural anthropologists that any substantial change in the organization of a society (or segment of it) is eventually reflected in the inheritance. on the other. Ethnomusicology has taught us for some time now that musical styles are frequently the result of specific cultural determinants emanating from social and ethnohistorical factors of various kinds. a synthesis of the worldview of a culture community. TX 78713-7819 09-Afro-Brazilian. Austin. self-assertion and selfawareness in relationship to a given social group’s cosmovision.Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 91 Gerard Béhague Brown University Lecture (March 6. As a means of non-verbal communication. P.

The discovery of the Minas Gerais and the expansion of large plantations created the need for additional forced 09-Afro-Brazilian.92 : Gerard Béhague social classes. and particularly in Bahia (Salvador and the Reconcavo). I believe that its musical reality can only be understood in relation to Brazil’s social and ethnic stratification.PM 92 10/26/06. Togo. it in fact has an organic functionality in most traditional cultures. Pierre Verger has reconstructed as much as possible the history of the slave trade between the gulf of Benin and the Baía de Todos os Santos. By the eighteenth century Bahian businessmen began to export tobacco to the Gulf of Benin in exchange for slaves. At the most general level this may be so. therefore. music has been shown to act as one of the main factors in the construction of identity. But. If we believe along with Clifford Geertz that religion is “a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful. we soon realize that musical performance in religious ritual contexts represents a forceful expression of that symbolic system. while music may appear simply as an ornamental. The slaves came from many different regions of Africa at different periods. However. 90). which correspond to various corpora of music fulfilling various functions and acquiring various meanings in the numerous contexts of music making. Indeed. are fully integrated within the social organization of those religions. from the end of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century. The information available is quite incomplete as most of the archives on slavery were destroyed under the orders of Rui Barbosa (then Minister of Finance) in 1891 (3 years after the abolition of slavery). complementary yet essentially reinforcing element of certain religious practices. and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic” (1973. In the specific case of Brazil with which I am concerned here. and the Bantu from Angola and Mozambique. As a natural expressive means. but the facts relating to the history of the slave trade in Brazil point to a lack of a homogeneous black African population. the Sudanese from Guinea. The historical and cultural dimensions of the presence of Africans on the Brazilian northeast coast and territory have had such an impact on the configuration of contemporary culture that it is common to assert that the current Bahian society is African or neo-African. music and dance become the main vehicle of religious fulfillment and. At first the trade was organized with the Congo and northern Angola (Bantu slaves had the reputation of being excellent workers in agriculture). the conceptions of a general order of existence clearly owe a great deal to the African cultural presence in that area. In certain religious rituals. 10:58 AM . pervasive. Benin (Dahomey) and Nigeria. It is well known that music and religion are closely related in many cultures. music seems essential in order to bring forth a given culture’s ethos. cultural or ethnic identity. In Northeast Brazil. They came from all of the west coast (and even some from the east coast).

Candomblé does not refer in Bahia to a particular nation but is rather a generic term designating all religious groups of African derivation. Although the sugar mill and plantation owners favored ethnic diversity to try to maintain old tribal rivalries. 10:58 AM . In 1954. thus candomblé means the house of the candombe (or dance with drums). 30 percent.Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 93 labor coming from the Benin gulf coast. 09-Afro-Brazilian. there were only 460 of Bantu origin (these figures come from the few remaining contracts of purchase and sale at the Municipal Archives of Salvador). musical and choreographic idiosyncrasies (an interesting example of the evidence of the resistance of a Bantu minority to the cultural pressure exerted by the nagôs who came later and in larger numbers in Bahia). Umbanda). Yoruba) and gege (Ewe. which in theory abolished the slave trade along the African coast north the Equator. while in 1968 anthropologist Vivaldo Costa Lima surveyed some 768 houses. meaning house. the Kikongo ndombe. the same author counted a hundred houses. Nowadays. Despite the 1815 treaty between Portugal and Great Britain. The various temples or cult houses have taken different aspects.PM 93 10/26/06. according to a given nation with which they traditionally associate. had some sixty-seven houses registered at the Union of Afro-Brazilian Sects (according to Edison Carneiro 1954).000 nagôs. And yet the slaves tended to gather in ethnic groups or “nations. we find in Bahia the following groups: the traditions of the Benin gulf: nagô (ketu. fifteen caboclo and one designated as Amerindian. Bahia saw an influx of slaves of the most diverse origins but with Sudanese people predominating. The city of Salvador. designating an old dance of the slaves in the plantations. of which thirty were of Sudanese origin. among them 2. The presence of Africans of common origin in this later period may explain the prevalence of traditions of the most numerous ethnic group (Yoruba/nagô). some 3. caboclo. By extension. and the Yoruba word ilé. twenty-one Bantu. Bahia. including the Kimbundo prefix ka meaning custom. Fon) groups. In 1972. known as caboclo incorporated into Afro-Bahian culture. those of the Bantu people: the Congo-Angola nations whose cult practices derive in great part from the nagô ritual but maintain their linguistic.” Hence the diversity of African related religious systems and practices in modern Brazil remains. the trade continued. it became the generic word in Bahia to designate the religion itself and the locale of the cult centers. meaning of or pertaining to black people.060 slaves of Sudanese origin. 25 percent. but the nagô or Yoruba religion predominated over other groups. For example. and the remaining 5 percent. they were unable to control the larger proportions of Sudanese. The word candomblé interestingly derives from three African languages: candombe. I counted a little over nine hundred houses officially registered with the City Police Department (about 40 percent were ketu/gege. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. between 1838–60. and finally the tradition of the Amerindian mixture. use. Congo-Angola. The multiplication of candomblé houses of worship since the 1930s attests to the vitality and popularity of the religions. ijex’á .

leaves. In nagô language in Africa. such as bronze. human or animal blood. Thus. known as axé. It can also diminish or grow. and stones. all symbols of life: red in the animal world. however. As shown by Juana Elbein dos Santos (1976). in all ritual activity. with a growing population of Umbanda cult houses. Thus. alcohol extracted from palm trees. that allows things to happen” (1976. silver (mineral). semen. it must be transmitted. 334). and so on (the vegetal world) and salts. All objects. Since the cult leader (ialorixá. river beds. sexual organs. Without axé. maintain. or parts of the body believed to be impregnated with axé: heart. there is the implication of the transmission or revitalization of axé (Elbein dos Santos 1976. objects. what maintains the continuity of candomblé is the inherent concept and belief.PM 94 10/26/06. 39) and change. Elbein dos Santos states that: 09-Afro-Brazilian. such elements as dendê oil (epo or African palm oil) and honey (understood as the blood of the flowers). chalk. The latter will manifest this power through spirit possession. as well as plant juices. vegetal and mineral worlds. according to the ritual activity and the behavior of initiates. It can be applied to various ends and realizations. plasma. lungs. 41–42). 10:58 AM . liver. in the vegetal world. Axé is the principle that makes the vital process possible. the axé becomes power that the cult leader transmits to the novices. or pai/mae de santo) represents the supreme authority of the religious group. Thus. This is the “force that assures dynamic existence. all beings or consecrated places can only become sacred through the acquisition of axé. and they must accumulate. The white blood refers to saliva. axé “designates the invisible. and from the mineral world. all the material contents of candomblé centers (including sacred drums) and their initiates must receive axé. santos) is “implanted” in the head of the initiating devotee during initiation (hence the native expression “to do the obligation of the head” designates initiation). but various estimates put the number in 1989 at over 2. all animal body secretions. axé is neutral. without any possibility of realization. thus the recognized emic categories of red. yellow (a variant of red) metal. did not register then and since 1976 such registrations are no longer required. white and black blood. existence would be paralyzed. of all things” (Maupoil 1943. As an extension of the concept of axé. magic-sacred force of all deity. and develop it. the direct ties to African culture tend to break down as Brazil becomes more urbanized and industrialized.94 : Gerard Béhague Many houses. It is transmissible (transmitted through material and symbolic means to objects and human beings) and it does accumulate. it represents the most precious contents of the cult center. It is contained in a wide variety of elements representing the animal.500 centers. and initiation or sacralization ceremonies. plant roots. offerings. there are places. This indicates that although the whole ritual complex of popular religions retains its African character. The axé of each cult center and of the gods (orixás. As a principle and a force. of all animated objects. But this force does not appear spontaneously. lead. babalorixá.

Songs of fundamento are those that possess a special power in conjunction with a given deity (especially power of invocation) and that refer to some quintessential myths associated with an orixá. the authority of the cult leader comes from the recognition of her/ his knowledge of fundamento songs with which he or she can exercise more efficiently and directly the power of control of the initiates’ ritual behavior. adjá.Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 95 the dynamics of spirit possession express. agogô. etc. This importance is recognized in the initiation of the devotee by means of a special rite called “to open the speech” (abrir a fala). the ritual song texts possess the dynamic power of sound. 47). The meaning of the mythical-ritual power attributed to songs and to music in general is also articulated in candomblé language through the expression “to be of fundamental principle. This quality of fundamento is. dramatized in a personal experience. xequeré. here and now. 09-Afro-Brazilian. of sacred plants.. In musical matters. by extension. Thus. which will allow the voice of the orixá to be heard during possession (ibid. As an extension. Perhaps more than the sound instruments. That is. 10:58 AM ..). and of music. of rites. such as the techniques and secrets of the Ifá divination practices. There exists in Bahian candomblé a vast repertory of song texts that are learned throughout the initiation period and after in the regular religious practice. But the word is important insofar as it is sound. This doctrine can only be understood as long as it is lived through ritual experience—analogies. consisting of placing a special object (symbolic of axé ) on the tongue of the person. the sounds of ritual instruments and all of their symbolic contents are also conducting agents of axé (atabaques.PM 95 10/26/06.e. i. when uttered in a well-defined manner and context. Some linguistic anthropologists who have studied several African ritual languages valued their oral tradition to such a degree that they often referred to African cultures as civilizations of “orality” (ibid. This explains why not only the sound objects must be “prepared” or consecrated but also the persons who manipulate them (alabé or olubatás in the case of the drums). in a psychologically recreated temporal dimension. since they transmit a power of action and mobilize the ritual activity. 45) One of the most important factors of the belief system of the nagôs has to do with the relationship of axé and sound. 48–49). applied to the cult leader with esoteric knowledge. The word is considered a conducting agent of axé. to have a basic power” (ser de fundamento). music acquires in candomblé the same level of significance as the most important elements of religious dogmas and practices and is not conceived as a separate entity. of a doctrine.” (Elbein dos Santos 1976. it is through speech/sound that the orixás will be able to communicate directly with human beings. 46) because the word is also impregnated with axé. (1976.. “a conducting element of the power of realization. the existence of a system of knowledge. relived myths and legends. knowledge only has meaning when it is incorporated in an active mode.

Cult leaders of the most celebrated nagô centers condescend to the caboclo and Umbanda leaders who come to Bahia from all over the country to render homage to their counterparts. since effectively educating new initiates is his or her responsibility. sometimes in opposition to the African gods.PM 96 10/26/06. had little direct relationship with the gege-nagô.96 : Gerard Béhague Value is not so much placed on the cult leader’s extension of musical repertory but rather on his or her knowledge of such special songs. The leader’s prestige and authority in the community increase through positive results from the musical and choreographic education of the novices. including certain drum rhythms and songs. Particular ceremonies known as saida de iaós (presentation of the iaós) aim to a great extent at demonstrating what the iaós have learned in the subject of ritual behavior associated with music and dance. however. and the term itself has come to represent generically the composite nature of the Brazilian spiritual entity. batuques. derisive comments by the members of the nagô candomblés over such things as the ritual attires of the visitors. in Bahia the oldest and wealthiest candomblé centers (the ketu. macumbas. on the other hand. their songs and their music in general. The candomblé de caboclo. From a sociological standpoint. and recognition of this fact follows if the newly initiating persons are able to reveal a satisfactory assimilation of the music and dance lessons given systematically during the initiation periods (see Béhague 1984). and Umbandas. originally from Piaui Ind Amazônia) and elements of European popular Catholicism as well as supposed Indian rituals. The Congo-Angola group assimilated that system (particularly the Yoruba orixá ). 10:58 AM . I have witnessed such visits on numerous occasions and it is quite significant to hear critical. nagô and gege. and Congo-Angola) discriminate somewhat against the caboclo/Umbanda religious groups which they consider of inferior status and tradition. But caboclos represent at once orixás and the national deity in caboclo candomblés. the caboclo is considered a “civilized Indian. rituals of the pajelana (a combination of indigenous rituals. The importance of the caboclo as a national symbol of religious spirit is nowadays recognized in all candomblé centers (regardless of their professed religious affiliation) where a special shrine is built for their caboclos. Initiation represents such an education and symbolizes at the same time the knowledge and power of the leader. Roger Bastide saw the mythology of such groups 09-Afro-Brazilian. Thus. but incorporated numerous aspects of the Congo-Angola religious practices. in a sort of pilgrimage to reinforce their own spiritual and charismatic powers. while maintaining their own original ritual language and music.” a mestizo of Indian and white descent. catimbós. The belief system and practices of Bahian candomblé originate primarily from the gege-nagô religion as developed in Bahia. with Catholic and spiritualist influences. The main difference is that the orixás (known as encantados) do not “come down” among men but are represented by caboclo entities (essentially spirits coming from Brazilian Indian ancestors).

they constitute a system. and the caboclo and Umbanda the more national. Yet.Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 97 as caboclo and catimbó as “radically different from that of candomblé. however. 10:58 AM . 181) Despite the sharpness of his perception and analyses. They come together in a celestial geography. while there are significant differences between the various ritual practices (such as. 09-Afro-Brazilian. and kingdoms. there can be no question about the fundamental retention of African-related mythology and the general recognition of the African pantheon. (1978.PM 97 10/26/06. some elements of his ethnography are not characteristic of that group but of the caboclo candomblé. They are merely localized.. strung out in a decentralized organization. This heritage is especially evident in the functions and meanings of music within the liturgical observance of the various religions. that he paid a closer attention to the gege-nagô cult group. In effect. songs function as sacralizing elements in all religious groups. The Amerindian spirits on the other hand are distributed geographically by villages. Bastide (1978) explained his perception as follows: The African gods form a family linked by ties of generation and marriage. African mythology is modeled on the tribe and the extended family. A brief illustration of such functions and meaning deals with the sacralization of drums. Although there exists a fairly wide margin of variables. however. that of catimbó on the political organization of Brazil as seen through the eyes of a devotee of fairy tales. for example. yet with the largest number of members. Despite the fact that the gege-nagô groups represent the oldest regional (hence most African-related) religions in Brazil. In 1944. states. are somewhat confusing because his description and interpretations of the ceremonies involving drums seem to be the result of a generalization from the various religious groups. but they are not linked in any way. and regardless of their position in the continuum of African versus European origins) owe a great deal to the African religious heritage. Bastide tended to consider the actual mythical and sociological situations of Brazilian popular religions somewhat too unequivocally.” In African Religions of Brazil (Les Religions Afro-Brésiliennes). the fact that songs and music call the orixá. His data. the ritual effect of music coming from Yoruba culture is recognized in all Afro-Brazilian religious dogmas. while the caboclo only sings after his appearance and that ritual dancing is more closely symbolic of mythic reenactment among the nagô groups). all the ritual linked to African beliefs was dispossessed. hence more acculturated groups. i. Melville Herskovits (1966). all popular religions in Brazil (whether the batuque of Rio Grande do Sul or that of Belém do Pará. When this native Indian mythology was accepted. the American anthropologist.e. The terminology that he used tends to indicate. reported the religious significance of drums and drummers in Bahian religions.

10:58 AM . he saw in it “an example of the striking quality possessed by such African cults as have survived in New World Catholic countries. given the methodic interface between music and ritual gestures. Rather. The presence of this liquid is indeed signified by the special plant songs which appear in the sequence of the performance. it is not the case at all among the gege-nagô groups. I subscribe to the interpretation that the apparent existence of features of Christian belief systems was the result of sociohistorical accommodation in the slave quarters of the plantations. as part of the rite of passage from the secular to the sacred world. Afro-Brazilian religions continue to be essentially animistic in nature. The term “baptism. The drums become.98 : Gerard Béhague Despite a certain degree of syncretism with Christian-Catholic elements. Xangô. Once more music provides the evidence. The sacred liquid in question results from the maceration of sacred plants which are believed to contain a great deal of axé and are the secret of each cult center. According to Herskovits. fire and lightning.” however.” A concrete example would be the use of water in the “baptism” of drums. Today. Plant songs (cantigas de fôlhas) would have no place in that sequence if it were not for the very nature of this liquid. The baptismal ritual is placed under the sign of that god. and thus of bringing on spirit possession. blesses the drums while sprinkling them with the sacred liquid” (1966.” Thus a proper spiritual treatment is essential.PM 98 10/26/06. a quality by means of which African and Catholic elements are harmoniously combined” (1966. therefore. Frequently they are “dressed” for the occasion (although not a requirement): this consists in encircling them with a cloth called odjá. The preparation of the drums entails the painting of their body with the characteristic colors of the god (in the sample case here. is represented by the colors red and white. exactly the same practice as that followed for the initiates in a 09-Afro-Brazilian. the main vehicle of communication with that god. they are believed to have a “voice” of their own. Yet. This treatment not only includes the initial rite of “baptism. 189). however. “the priest or priestess takes holy water. obtained from a Catholic church. Each center is primarily dedicated to the worship of the orixá to whom the cult leader was initiated. 189).” but occasionally the actual naming of the drums and annual “feeding” to prolong and assure the power received at the baptismal ritual. Since drums have the primary religious function of calling the gods. While this might still be true nowadays among the caboclos. the god of thunder. and speaking entirely in the African tongue employed by the group in its rituals. a recognized awareness of the value of traditional popular culture and a valorization of Black ethnicity tend to minimize the socalled “harmonious combination. is not used by candomblé practitioners. and their axé needs to be reinforced through “nourishment. the native expression is dar de comer ao couro (to feed the drum skin). Syncretic elements have been overemphasized. Herskovits introduced the word “baptism” in its symbolic meaning of ablution. irresistible to the gods.

is not manifested in the baptism ceremony. and honey. This food includes blood. preferably a cock) will be sacrificed for each drum. blood. “Ogum conducts ceremony. . She/he begins by consulting the gods through divination to make sure that the particular day chosen for the ceremony is appropriate for the god under whose sign the ceremony takes place (kola nuts or cowry shells are used for divination purposes). the sacred liquid mentioned earlier. an appropriate song (“sacrificial” song as a native category) is sung: “Ogum choro.” i. officiates. is necessary in the most liturgically significant Afro-Bahian rituals. The ritual takes place shortly after a new set of drums has been constructed. choro . in conjunction with an iron bell (agogô) or a shaken rattle. Several dishes for the food offerings are placed in front of the drum heads. the “baptism” being one of the few musical occasions of candomblé in which singing is not accompanied by drums. as does the agogô. As the most manifest symbol of life.e. All the songs are accompanied by the agogô alone. In theory. At the moment the head of the animal begins to be severed. or less frequently the master drummer. the rum appears. The rum is played by the master drummer (alabê ) and is considered the most important because it determines the various changes in the choreography. A religious hierarchy exists between the largest drum (rum) and the medium-sized (rumpi ) and smallest drums (lê ).Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 99 state of possession.. By improvising. Of these. the order in which the plants should be invoked is 09-Afro-Brazilian. Eje choro. The cult leader. palm oil. While dancing. There is no basic difference between this first ceremony and the subsequent annual feeding of the drums. Two more songs are performed as a further offering of the blood to the ilus (incidentally the pentatonic and hexatonic melodic structure of the songs is typically Yoruba). because they are expected to respond to its calls. The ritual use of blood is clearly an African trait in this context. ilu. This hierarchy. the rum establishes a contrast with the smaller drums which usually repeat a single steady ostinato pattern. the foods with more axé are the blood and the herbs or plants. introduced by the greeting word assa (repeated three times) to Ossanha. especially running blood. with the exception of the painting and occasional naming.PM 99 10/26/06. If the divination signs (256) should prove consistently negative. which is only permissible on this occasion. however. . Functionally and musically. the god of war and metal tools. Orikis or prayers of offering are said concurrently with the divination game. salt. The drums are placed in a slanting position. the god of all vegetation. The cycle of plant songs follows.” The reference to the god Ogum is justified by the fact that Ogum. as the instrument par excellence. the initiates pay more attention to it than to the other ones. should be invoked in conjunction with the use of the sacrificial knife. In most cult groups the drums are played in a battery of three. 10:58 AM . A feathered animal (a chicken. Each drum is treated equally. ilu pao. the ceremony would be postponed. although in actual practice such an occurrence is very rare. the blood is flowing. therefore.

the head symbolizes the new life conferred upon the instruments (Ilu bori ia-um).” In the specific case of Xangô. With the performance of these songs a true baptism.100 : Gerard Béhague well set. Since herbs and plants are considered to be one of the critical secrets of a given cult center. sossego. The drums are sprinkled with the sacred liquid. kabie silé . eurepepê (a water primrose) and peregum (a dracaena type). 10:58 AM .PM 100 10/26/06. eurepepe. the placement of the cock’s head in one of the dishes in fron of the drums is signified by the song “ori abodi. prosperity. ache . The positive result of the divination is expressed through applause and shouting and general rejoicing of the congregation. cheerfulness) and thanksgiving. clothing) and Portuguese (paz. we prostrate ourselves before you) that the worshippers reveal the fulfillment of the rite of passage: Xangô takes possession of his drums. Food offerings songs follow in the order of salt (iyô). in general. in order to avoid revealing these secrets. money. The last offering—perhaps the most significant from a strictly religious viewpoint—is that of the head of the animal.” The ceremony ends with divination (Ifá ) to confirm that the deity has accepted his new children and devotees. odundun. begonia and borage families). The tones of the language especially have been lost. the African oil palm. Welcome. The last plan song of this cycle corresponds to the mariwo. peace. The last songs of the performance (10 to 15) generally belong to the specific repertory associated with the orixá for whom the drums were “baptized. the sacralization of which occurs at the time of the gathering and macerations and involves offerings to Ossanha and singing. After that period. in the sense of immersion. Most of the Yoruba names of plants continue to be used in Bahia: irokô. tranquility). The hides are left in the sun to dry. it is by greeting Xangô (kawô. This is why this offering is followed by two songs of general joy (Opê irê . involving sixteen different plants grown in both the West African and the Brazilian Northeastern coasts. omo. These plants are known by all cult leaders. prosperidade. I call happiness. traditional Yoruba or Fon texts although the numerous linguistic and phonetic alterations prevent a meaningful literal translation of such texts. food. Indeed. all plant songs are not generally sung if a member of another (rival) center is present. drums heads and bodies are cleaned. The greeting words of the text of this song mix Yoruba (ajêum .e. The song texts are. agtiba olá. agba-ô ( a type of morning glory). Plant songs may include songs for ipessam (plants of the mimosa. The drums remain in the sacred space (barracão) for several hours with a lit candle in front of each drum. The latter are referred to in the song texts as omorobâ or “children of Xangô. and so on. They are properly tuned. and then ready to fulfill their crucial role. After this. o guegue manio” (the severed head is the fulfillment). i. who also act as medicine men in most cases. The Yoruba song text here signifies good wishes of wealth and good fortune (ifáo-mon means to attract money). even by a Yoruba-speaking person. takes place. 09-Afro-Brazilian. honey (oyin) and palm oil (epô).

regional integration of Brazil today. Umbanda music repertory is in constant elaboration. Song lyrics are mostly in Portuguese as opposed to the African language texts of the songs from the gege-nagô and Congo-Angola groups. I also 09-Afro-Brazilian. corroborates the very meaning of the ceremony which is the sacralization of the instruments.e. however. More specifically. A final word about candomblé ’s orixás/santos and their competitors in the contemporary scene. But the Congo-Angola music is limited to about three different rhythms. i. albeit stylistically restricted. Many of these priests have come to the same de facto conclusion as many candomblé worshippers that there is no contradiction in professing faith to both religions. especially the middle class. The stylistic continuity that can be observed in Afro-Bahian religious music is most probably a case of cultural resistance during the various centuries of cultural confrontations which. in this instance. overlapping call and response. 10:58 AM . I even heard on occasions priests stating that candomblé members are generally better parishioners than the non-members. music operates as an integral component of that behavior since music alone. But this stylistic limitation appears the most effective in attracting worshippers from the whole gamut of the social strata. the effective penetration of national values into a strong regional and urban cultural setting. Umbanda music. monophonic choral singing. And it does so by relying on a nationally omnipresent and familiar style. accompanied by various percussion instruments) with the predominance of pentatonic and hexatonic descending melodies is strongly present in the music of the gege-nagô. In effect. also involved cultural sharing. The relationships of the Roman Catholic church with candomblé in the Bahia area have had a series of ups and downs over the last few decades. The variety of accompaniment rhythms resulting from specific rhythmic attributes for each orixá is likewise retained among these groups.PM 101 10/26/06. namely the folkurban type of dance music most readily associated with the samba. it is not an exaggeration to affirm that caboclo and Umbanda religions and their expressive means (mostly music and dance) may be the single most important factor contributing to the cultural. Indeed Umbanda music responds to its deliberate attempt to cater to all segments of urban society. displays stylistic changes that illustrate the cultural integration of the Bahia area. What distinguishes the regional versus the national trends in Brazilian traditional religious music is the particular style of each group..Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 101 This ceremony is a clear illustration of the close relationship existing between liturgical behavior and musical repertories. In contradistinction to the traditional candomblés. The traditional West African style of religious music (characterized by responsorial singing. and the music of the caboclo candomblé is almost exclusively based on one rhythm quite similar to that of the folk samba. One has to differentiate between the official Catholic church position vis-à-vis “non-Christian” popular religions in Brazil and the actual pragmatic attitudes of parish priests throughout the area. nevertheless.

. and various organizations. Melville J. Herskovits. edited by Frances S. Asèsè e o Culto Égun na Bahia. Since 1989 a “holy war” (“guerra santa”) has been declared between candomblés and the Universal Church Kingdom of God. Published originally in The 09-Afro-Brazilian. and even seeing at such events spirit possession taking place at the precise moment of the elevation! There is. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Juana 1976 Os Nàgô e a Morte. 87–125. Béhague.PM 102 10/26/06. Carneiro. has a very long way to go to become competitive with candomblé religions and its musical expressions. an attitude perhaps more telling of the relationship of the Catholic relationship with Protestantism than that with candomblé. 10:58 AM . 222– 54. Pàde. True confrontations have occurred in the last few years between candomblé centers and Protestant sects. Clifford 1973 “Religion as a Cultural System. edited by Gerard Béhague. Geertz.” In The Interpretation of Cultures.” In The New World Negro: Selected Papers in Afro-American Studies. It is quite significant that the Bahian archbishop of the Catholic church has pronounced himself. Because of its enormous success. Elbein dos Santos. 2nd ed. I venture the definite opinion that Protestant hymnody. CT: Greenwood Press. on occasions. Gerard 1984 “Patterns of Candomblé Music Performance: An AfroBrazilian Religious Setting. Roger 1978 The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations. such as the blocos afros. Rio de Janeiro: Editorial Andes. the Protestant missionary movement has become a truly socio-political threat to candomblé. Herksovits. as practiced in Bahia. But as an ethnomusicologist.102 : Gerard Béhague witnessed cases of priests agreeing to celebrate mass in homage to a particular cult leader’s caboclo. 1966 “Drums and Drummers in Afrobrazilian Cult Life. in favor of candomblés. Westport.” In Performance Practice: Ethnomusicological Perspectives. especially evangelicals and Pentecostals. Petropólis: Editora Vozes. a pacific coexistence with the Catholic church. Edison 1954 Candomblés da Bahia. New York: Basic Books. for the most part. has made public accusations that have mobilized not only candomblé members but the Movimento Negro Unificado. particularly. References Bastide. Pastor Gilmar Teixeira Rosas. Inc.

Bernard 1943 La Géomancie à l’Ancienne Côte des Esclaves. 10:58 AM . Pierre 1968 Flux et Reflux de la Traité des Nègres entre le Golfe de Benin et Bahia de Todos os Santos du Dix-Septième au Dix-Neuvieme Siècle. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Paris: Musée de 1’Homme. no.Regional and National Trends in Afro-Brazilian Religious Musics : 103 Musical Quarterly 30. 09-Afro-Brazilian. Paris. Verger.PM 103 10/26/06. 4 [1944]). Berkeley: University of California Press. Charles 1977 Studies in Musicology. La Haye: Mouton & Co. Seeger. 1935-1975. Maupoil.