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of THE

InI nSociety

Volume 6, Issue 6

Heitor Villa-lobos and ‘Choros’ no. 3: Modernism,
Nationalism, and “Musical Anthropophagy”
Gabriel Augusto Ferraz

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blending European “cosmopolitan” musical techniques and aesthetics with characteristic elements of Brazilian “local” musical practices. a move that resulted from his personal search for an “authentic” Brazilian musical language and was motivated by the pervading Brazilian artistic ideology of the time. Villa-Lobos presented some of his Choros in Paris. Keywords: Villa-Lobos. Nationalism. and Jorge Coli. Heitor Villa-Lobos (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Issue 6. 1. University of Florida. and dissonances like those of Stravinsky’s Primitivism. Choros. This article examines how the Choros series reflects VillaLobos’s assimilation of local musical elements and European aesthetic ideals in the 1920s. both from 1917. which have been considered to be the direct result of his search for an “authentic” Brazilian language in art music. The International Journal of the Arts in Society Volume 6. 3: Modernism. All Rights Reserved. Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote fourteen nationalistic pieces called Choros. Musical “Exoticism” Introduction I N THE 1920S. as his symphonic poems Amazonas and Uirapuru.” by which the Brazilian artist should “devour” (assimilate) European techniques and aesthetics to portray national art. especially unbalanced accents. and due to what Parisians perceived as musically “exotic. 120. Musical Nationalism. composer Heitor Villa-Lobos wrote a series of fourteen nationalistic pieces called Choros. which is in fact a popular choro. Permissions: cg-support@commongroundpublishing. where he lived in two occasions. especially the unbalanced accents. these compositions reveal a hybrid style. Villa-Lobos combined elements from the Brazilian urban popular genre choro and Brazilian Amerindian music with European musical . which was the direct result of his search for an “authentic” Brazilian musical language. As Villa-Lobos affirmed in an interview with the New York Times in 1944. 1920s. Peppercorn. Villa-Lobos combined elements from the Brazilian urban popular genre choro (from which he drew the title of his series) and Brazilian Amerindian music with European techniques. Fl.Heitor Villa-lobos and ‘Choros’ no.arts-journal. and dissonances typical of Stravinsky’s primitivism. 2012. “Musical Anthropophagy”. abrupt metrical changes. Villa-Lobos in effect “elevated” a local tradition to the status of art 1 Heitor Villa-Lobos quoted In Simon Wright. abrupt metrical changes. While scholars Lisa M. demonstrate. 1992). they did not acknowledge that the Choros series resulted from Villa-Lobos’s search for a Brazilian musical language that had started before he went to Paris for the first time in 1923.”1 Choros offer a good example of this philosophy. http://www. USA Abstract: In the 1920s. In Choros.” some Choros achieved great success in that city. Through this series. and “Musical Anthropophagy” Gabriel Augusto Ferraz. Eero Tarasti. Gainesville. With the exception of Choros no. ISSN 1833-1866 © Common Ground. “I have always searched for a synthesis between western culture and that of my own country. Gabriel Augusto Ferraz. In addition. suggested that Villa-Lobos took advantage of a Paris thirsty for “exotic” music to elaborate the aesthetic of Choros and other pieces from the 1920s. In composing Choros. Hybridity in Music. the series also reflected the philosophies of an entire class of Brazilian modernist artists who proposed the so-called “anthropophagic art.

the works written after 1930 have been seen essentially as the continued growth of that credo [Choros and other compositions of the 1920s]. Modernists officially launched the Brazilian Modernist Movement through the Week of Modern Art of 1922. and modernists furthered these reflections in the form of artistic expression. which was firmly rooted in European traditions. not to simply emulate European art (as most of their fellow Brazilian predecessors had done in the past). hence aesthetically. On the “Anthropophagic Manifesto” Andrade extended this idea to Brazilian arts as a whole and drew a parallel between Brazilian modernist artists and Amerindian cannibal tribes from Brazil’s colonial times. would guarantee its exportation to Europe. Andrade suggested that.”2 Furthermore. contributed to a paradigm shift in Brazilian compositional practices: that is. Villa-Lobos was well acquainted with Brazilian modernists and even participated in the Week of Modern Art. Andrade did not propose this aesthetic of assimilation and synthesis. developing a musical aesthetic that could be appreciated both locally and internationally. but rather theorized upon it and named “anthropophagic” an aesthetic that had already been established in the modernist Brazilian art. several generations of Brazilian 2 Gerard Béhague. Both his manifestos became emblematic of modernists’ artistic pursuits. 224 . Choros reflected the intellectual search and “anthropophagic” aesthetics of Brazilian modernists and along with other Villa-Lobos’s compositions from the 1920s. intellectuals had reflected upon the nature of the “Brazilian character” since at least the late 19th century. Villa-Lobos presented some of his Choros in Paris. This manifesto asserted that which the previous one had only suggested: that Brazilian artists should “devour” (assimilate) European techniques and aesthetics to portray national art. from 1928. the establishment of an “authentic” Brazilian voice in art music. like the Brazil Wood-the first Brazilian product to be ever exported to Europethe “authentic” Brazilian elements of modernists’ poetry. these manifestos advocated that although Brazilian modernist artists should draw upon European modern aesthetics.). with recognized occasional improvement in the composer’s technique and aesthetic manifestation but. they should do so to reveal the idiosyncrasies of their country. with less daring experiment and innovation. and what the French perceived as “exotic” music was in fact Villa-Lobos’s attempt to musically portray the “essence” of Brazilian people. In other words. 104. conveying an “essential” Brazilian outlook to his philosophy. 1994.” The search for brasilidade in arts was the main tenet of modernist Brazilian artists from the 1920s through the 1940s. in general. In the first work.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY music. The importance of the series led Gerard Béhague to affirm that “philosophically. Due to Brazilians’ mixed ethnic heritages. and from that point on they started to exercise a fundamental role in Brazilian arts: their philosophies challenged the established modus operandi of Brazilian society. Heitor Villa-Lobos: In Search for Brazil’s Musical Soul (Austin: University of Texas. Thus his ongoing personal search for a synthesis of Brazilian and European music received a major intellectual boost from modernists. the so-called brasilidade or “Brazilian character. Poet Oswald de Andrade wrote two manifestos that epitomized the essence of modernists’ search for brasilidade: the “Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brazil” (Manifesto of Brazil Wood Poetry) from 1924 and the more aggressive and provocative “Manifesto Antropófago” (Anthropophagic Manifesto or Cannibalistic Manifesto). couched in cosmopolitan techniques. with which Villa-Lobos was involved to some extent.

in which VillaLobos blended Brazilian Amerindian musical elements with techniques from European music. and despite Andrade considered that VillaLobos became aesthetically committed with Brazilian music only after 1923. 3 (1925) will reveal the “anthropophagic” essence of this piece. Due to the lack of documentation and the fact that the piece’s first performance was given eighteen years after it was supposedly composed. and Quinteto em Forma de Choro. As I argue. they did not acknowledge that the Choros series resulted from Villa-Lobos’s personal search for a Brazilian musical language that both contributed to and reflected the philosophies of an entire class of Brazilian modernists. An analysis of Choros no. given the importance of the series and the need to contextualize these works within broader artistic ideologies of Villa-Lobos’s time.” which. and popular music were essential for him to elaborate his own musical language in what Andrade called the “second compositional phase. the Choros series as a whole can be interpreted as a musical index of social and cultural dilemmas intrinsic to the formation of Brazilian people.” felt that Villa-Lobos finally faced the problem of Brazilian music. 4 Mário de Andrade questioned the chronology of some Villa-Lobos’s works. and Jorge Coli. indicates that the piece was composed in 1917 but restructured in 1934. suggested that Villa-Lobos took advantage of a Paris thirsty for “exotic” music to elaborate the aesthetic of Choros and other pieces from the 1920s. one of the most important Brazilian modernists. contributed to the intellectual search for brasilidade.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ composers have cultivated the (anthropophagic) nationalistic aesthetics that Villa-Lobos crystallized through Choros. two Choros Bis. and how it would have sounded in 1917 (Coli. in which the enhancement of dissonance acquires more harshness and expression. 1998). Unless indicated otherwise. Villa-Lobos adheres to modern antiimpressionistic music. along with Villa-Lobos’s borrowings from Brazilian folk.4 Choros exemplify Villa-Lobos’s sense of nationalism and how he translated into music the impressions he had of the vast Brazilian land and all its diversity. for instance. from which predominates in himself the lesson of Stravinsky’s instrumental music. Eero Tarasti. arguing that the composer might simply have changed the dates of some pieces to earlier years to create an impression that he was innovative. 5 In addition to the fourteen Choros.3 The compositional elements mentioned by Andrade. happened only after the Week of Modern Art in 1922. all translations in this article are mine. and in that sense. however. Amerindian. Música. The ballet Amazonas. it is not possible to gauge how much the piece changed in this process of reformation. when Villa-Lobos started composing his Choros series. according to the intellectual. Villa-Lobos composed the Introdução aos Choros. 225 . this article illuminates how Brazilian modernists’ philosophies of nationalism contributed to the crystallization of the aesthetics of Choros.5 In his words 3 Mário de Andrade quoted In Jorge Coli. 172. While scholars Lisa Peppercorn. the critic himself recognized the originality of the musical language of Amazonas and its referential importance for furthering the development of an “authentic” Brazilian music. in which he had made rare incursions […] this leads him to a much more frank and tonal harmonization. Música Final (Campinas: Editora da Unicamp. Villa-Lobos’s Choros Regarding the beginning of the 1920s. Thus. and premiered only in 1935. was performed for the first time in 1919. VillaLobos’s rubric in the score of the ballet Uirapuru. Mário de Andrade (with no family relationship with Oswald). 384). known as “the pope of modernism.

9 Villa-Lobos quoted In Wright. Villa-Lobos. permitting a better understanding of the variety found in these pieces. it is therefore not surprising to find traits of Stravinsky’s musical techniques-especially the treatment of rhythm and dissonances-in Villa-Lobos’s music. 67. When I write. 7.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY [Choros] represent a new form of musical composition. I do not use ready-made folk songs and dances. and no. This variety is reflected in the musical structure of each Choro as well: although grouped as a series. As Villa-Lobos said in an interview [In Choros I] had no fixed formulas for the use of the themes. 4. I never repeat themes merely for the pleasure of repetition or to create ‘cyclic’ music. 8 Béhague. 77. they each have unique musical structures. giving himself a poetic license of sorts by invoking “the personality of the author. that is they have the aspect of folk themes. Villa-Lobos once confessed his admiration for Stravinsky to his friend poet Manuel Bandeira. for instance. affirming that listening to the Rite of the Spring in Paris was the most emotional moment of his life. always transformed according to the personality of the author. but despite that he may have exaggerated the passion of his words to convey a sense of originality to Choros. and partially 9 and 6 Heitor Villa-Lobos. a complete stylization of the original.6 Villa-Lobos himself addressed Choros as a synthesis of Brazilian Indian and popular music. 3. especially Stravinsky’s. I create music out of necessity. Manuel Bandeira. Indeed. “Villa-Lobos” In Presença de Villa-Lobos vol. understood here by cataloging media and durations. it is according to the style of Villa-Lobos. In my music there are no so-called influences. VIII (Rio: MEC-Museu Villa-Lobos 1973). In fact. Gerard Béhague affirmed: “one could venture the generalization that numbers 1. preface to Choros n° 3 (Paris: Max Eschig). The harmonic procedures are.9 Villa-Lobos actually used ready-made melodies on his Choros no. Regarding VillaLobos’s borrowings from Amerindian and popular music. 7 226 . Heitor Villa-Lobos.”8 Nonetheless. having as most important elements the rhythm and any typical melody of popular character that show occasionally or by accident. 10 for instance. I do not believe in quoting anyone else’s music. Invariably these techniques were related to European ones. similarly. no. My themes often suggest folk themes.7 Due to Villa-Lobos’s admiration for Stravinsky’s music. I use them for the development of atmosphere as I feel the need. biological necessity […] My artistic creed is la liberté absolue. in which the different modalities of Brazilian Indian and popular music are synthesized. 106. 5.” Villa-Lobos assumes the freedom to utilize any compositional technique that would fit his purposes. Table one provides information about Choros that show some of their individual characteristics. 7. It is thoroughly American—of our continent—belonging to no school or special trend […] I [also] do not know what the word inspiration means. As Béhague affirmed in regards to VillaLobos’s treatment of Indianist material (prevalent in Choros): “A frequent technique consists of various combinations of differentiated motivic and timbral layers whose interactions result in an abstract chromatic style similar to Stravinsky. 2. Villa-Lobos applied these techniques to elaborate his own musical language that reflected his search for brasilidade. these words reveal his truly nationalistic pursuits and the “local” Brazilian elements that he used to convey brasilidade to Choros.

1925 Rio de Janeiro 9 soon. saxophone. 1927. and 10 evoke in part Indian Primitivistic music. 60-61 Date Number Instrumentation First Performance Duration in Minutes 1920 1 Solo guitar Not known 3 1924 2 Flute. Rio de Janeiro 23 1926 10 Orchestra and chorus 11 Nov. of exuberant nature.1940. Rio de Janeiro 60 (without cuts) 1929 12 Orchestra 1929 13 2 orchestras and band (lost) 1928 14 Orchestra. 1927. displays the successful impact of Villa-Lobos’s music in a Paris thirst for “exotic” music: ‘‘It is the first time in Europe that one hears works coming from Latin America that bring with them the wonders of virgin forests. bas. clarinet. band and chorus (?) (lost) 21 Oct. orchestra. and he found in modernists’ nationalistic philosophies the intellectual support that he needed to pursue this undertaking and crystallize his musical aesthetics. violin. however idealized. Exoticism: A Matter of Perspective Because of their varied “Brazilian” sonorities. Paris 6 1925 5 Solo piano 16 Oct. New York 5 1926 6 Orchestra 18 July 1942. profuse in dazzling 10 Béhague.1927. Boston 35 Nationalism vs. Villa-Lobos. 76. the Choros that Villa-Lobos performed in Paris in the 1920s were warmly received. 6. with 2 pianos 1925 8 Orchestra. 1945. while numbers 3. In some.. Rio de Janeiro 26 1924 7 Flute. Paris 1926 4 3 horns. with 2 pianos 24 Oct.”10 However. tam-tam. Paris 18 1929 9 Orchestra 15 July1942. 1927. Table 1: This Table was Inspired by the One Presented in Wright. male voices 5 Dec. 227 . 30 Nov. trombone 24 Oct. 3 horns. São Paulo 6 trombone. Henry Prunières’s review in the Revue Musicale of an all Villa-Lobos concert performed in that city on December 5.1925. 1926. however stylized of the popular choro of the beginning of the century. for instance. Paris 1928 11 Orchestra and solo piano 18 July 1942. São Paulo 3 1925 3 Clarinet.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ 12. despite the differences among Choros and the lack of thematic connection among them. do exhibit some aspects. clarinet 18 Feb. of great plains. Heitor Villa-Lobos. Rio de Janeiro 11 5 Dec. 8. both evocations appear. 1927. oboe.1925. saxophone. bassoon. the pieces are founded on the same ideological conception: Villa-Lobos freed himself of formalistic structures to elaborate music that reflected his country.17 Sept. cello.

Villa-Lobos approached this problem intellectually. such as unusual rhythmic accents and characteristic instruments of non-Western music. Paris awakened him to the possibility of creating his own.10 were performed in this concert. Peppercorn. 19. folkloric melodies and musical sounds that reflect the variety of colors of the tropic. To be fair. and the second from 1927 to 1930. 1992).3 and no. Peppercorn gets much more to the point in her article “Heitor Villa-Lobos. 14 Eero Tarasti cited by Jorge Coli.” where she writes that “the fruit of his sojourns in Paris in the 1920s was not that he became subdued by European contemporaries. preface. among others. Tropical exoticism refers to the exoticism Europeans saw in art from tropical countries (sometimes in connection to these countries’ native ethnicities). The first period occured between 1923 and 1924. 1992). “Heitor Villa-Lobos” in Villa-Lobos: Collected Studies (Hants. when he went back to Brazil (to the state of São Paulo) to conduct in a series of eight concerts. Indeed. 228 . for instance. to the Choros series. very personal musical idiom – to originate and compose music that. They helped to make their composers successful. other scholars have agreed with Peppercorn. 77. “The Fifteen-Year-Period in Villa-Lobos’s Life” in Villa-Lobos: Collected Studies (Hants. four years before her previously mentioned article. among other pieces. 40. Some scholars have criticized Villa-Lobos for having allegedly exaggerated brasilidade in his compositions of that period to achieve success in Paris. 13 Lisa M.15 But all the musical elements that Parisians were eager to hear. Among other pieces. this article was published in 1975. it did not define his musical choices.” Curiously. Toni. England: Scolar Press. 12 In the 1920s Villa-Lobos stayed in Paris on two separate occasions with the sponsorship of the industrialists Arnaldo and Carlos Guinle.’’11 Despite his positive criticism. Mário de Andrade e Villa-Lobos (São Paulo: Centro Cultural São Paulo. In Flávia C. Peppercorn.16 Although this favorable Parisian atmosphere may certainly have contributed to Villa-Lobos’s further development of his musical language. preface. with rhythms and the primitive force of his compositions.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY fruits. argued that in the first Paris period (1923-1924)12 Villa-Lobos came to the conclusion that he would have to turn his back on internationalism and express the ‘soul’ of Brazil in his music. It became his turning point as a composer. rather. Peppercorn. had already been composed when Villa-Lobos went to Europe. for example. Choros no. if Parisians were eager to hear such musical language it was only an advantage for 11 Henry Prunières In Béhague. affirmed that ‘‘Villa-Lobos comprehended what his social position in Europe at that moment was: he interested the European musical world overall as an interpreter of the brasilidade. but for his own compatriots as well. Lisa M. Prunière simply utilized adjectives to describe the music. 1987). Heitor Villa-Lobos. in form and content. 16 The ballets Amazonas and Uirapuru. as folklore and national elements were the fashionable trends in Europe in those days. was not only novelty for non-Brazilians. were already part of Villa-Lobos’s music by that time. 15 Jorge Coli In Toni. for instance. and in failing to provide more technical accounts about it he essentially “exoticized” it as a product of the tropics. England: Scolar Press. Eero Tarasti.13 This “turning point” referred. but one could not remain indifferent to works of such power and one must recognize with Florent Schimitt that the truly creative afflatus (‘soufflé’) has passed. Villa-Lobos was aiming at forging an “authentic” Brazilian musical language and his pursuit was corroborated by the philosophies of Brazilian modernists.’’14 And Brazilian historian Jorge Coli even suggested that Villa-Lobos perhaps exaggerated a sense of tropical exoticism during this period. original harmonies. Mário de Andrade e Villa-Lobos. flowers and birds…One may have another conception of the art music.

the “national schools” in general preserved a cosmopolitan outlook. collecting folk material that supposedly represented some remote Golden Age of their respective cultures. In this text Dahlhaus expounds upon musical nationalism and national identity in 19th century Europe.” 83-84. such as Bartók. Foster (New York: Cambridge University Press. who was concerned with the loss of German identity due to foreign (mostly French) influence. Carl Dahlhaus’s thoughts on musical nationalism in the nineteenth century are relevant to the present discussion:18 Most nineteenth century composers tried to effect a compromise between cosmopolitan ideas […]. but what they perceived as “exotic” was the settling down of Villa-Lobos’s most aggressive nationalism. and their own sense of national identity. In these countries. The idea was to find the apparently best local traditions and modernize them via cosmopolitan compositional techniques to create the best national art. In Brazil. the establishment of national identity became an important matter. Villa-Lobos was in line with this aesthetic. 229 . Smetana. It was their music’s national character that guaranteed their place in the international stage. “Nationalism. not an invalidation. For more information on this subject. on the contrary. especially with respect to former colonies such as Brazil.” in Between Romanticism and Modernism: Four Studies in the Music of the Later Nineteenth Century. translated by Mary Whittall (Berkeley: University of California Press. and Grieg.G. This art in turn would then serve to represent the nation both locally and internationally given its simultaneously traditional and cosmopolitan character.19 Dahlhaus here suggested that the enhancement of the local style through fusion with cosmopolitanism rather than the blind repetition of European models made national art music more valuable in XIX century Europe. Some of his ideas also apply to musical nationalism in the early 20th century. Herder (1733-1803). which was something that none of them could ignore in the climate of the times. 1980).17 These collected materials were then elaborated upon by using cosmopolitan musical techniques to create a more outreaching national music. 19 Dahlhaus. translated and edited by Michael N. Even after the mid-century. among others. insofar as they had no intention that the music they created or felt themselves on the way of creating should be excluded from universal art (a difficult thing to define). 18 Carl Dahlhaus. see Johann Gottfried Herder. 2002). as the “local” elements that he used in his music and his compositional philosophy demonstrate. had used this formula. a time devoid of foreign influence. Philosophical Writings. Several nationalist European composers. “Nationalism in music. and artists tried to capture the essence of their nationality in their production. Villa-Lobos and the International Nationalistic Trend The mixture of local musical traditions with cosmopolitan musical features that could be understood outside of a composer’s national boundaries was a trend that had begun with European composers in the nineteenth century. These composers engaged in a sort of musical archaeology. the national character was what would ensure for it a place in universal art […] The national substance of Russian or Czech music was a condition for its international worth.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Villa-Lobos. 17 The idea of a Golden Age that held the true essence of a people was first established by German philosopher J. and in spite of the inducements to support the more aggressive form of nationalism. presenting it to European countries as a demonstration of cultural independence.

what means: completely disinterested. 230 . Ensaio Sobre a Música Brasileira (Brasília: Livraria Martins Editora. especially in the arts. When he spoke about national music. meaning that the aesthetic of this series was a result VillaLobos’s social and cultural conditions as Brazilian. Villa-Lobos was one of these artists and proceeding from Andrade.20 (Essay on Brazilian Music) from 1928 somewhat anticipated in Brazilian grounds Dahlhaus’s elaborations on nationalistic music. 15-16. It is interesting to note which elements Andrade considered important in the making of national art: This [the fact that national music should contain aboriginal elements] is a puerility that includes ignorance about the sociology. 20 Andrade’s Essay. National art is not made through discretionary and dilettante elements: a national art is already made in the unconscious of a people. psychology. It is in this thread of thought that the concept of Primitivism applied to today’s orientation is justifiable.” as he put it. which corroborates the idea that Villa-Lobos was in line with the philosophies of Brazilian modernists. Andrade asserts that a composer that did not write nationalistic music in that time should be considered useless. It is a mistake to imagine that Brazilian primitivism is aesthetic. Andrade also suggested that […] the actual period of Brazil. as opposed to interested music. Andrade criticized the suggestion given by “some Europeans. which means music performed in the concert hall.22 Several Brazilian artists drew on Primitivism (especially Indian) to connect their arts with the roots of the country. It is [actually] social. This work has the tone of a nationalistic manifesto. We are attempting to conform the human production of the country to national reality. not simply an aesthetic choice to guarantee his success in Europe. that authentic Brazilian music would have to contain aboriginal elements.21 In other words. became a sort of aesthetic manual for Brazilian composers of that and future times. 1972). these scholars’ similar approach to nationalistic music substantiates the widespread notion of the aesthetic concept of “elevating local traditions through cosmopolitan techniques” that formed nationalistic languages. Although Villa-Lobos had been developing his own nationalistic musical aesthetic before Andrade wrote the Essay. the composer’s attitude was similar to most of the precepts Andrade outlined in his text. what Andrade proposed here was an aesthetic of assimilation and synthesis much like the hybrid musical language that Villa-Lobos was forging in his music in the 1920s. but the underlying principle of his text is the same as Dahlhaus’s. is of nationalization. Andrade’s Essay is exclusively about Brazilian music. Among other things. and aesthetics [of Brazil]. it is conceivable that expressing brasilidade through Primitivism in his Choros was for VillaLobos a problem of social order.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY Villa-lobos and the Brazilian Nationalistic Ideology Mário de Andrade’s influential Ensaio sobre a Música Brasileira. Andrade conceptualizes disinterested music as music that has no clear social function. 18. 22 Andrade. Ensaio. 21 Mário de Andrade. The artist has only to confer to the preexisting elements a sophisticated transposition that transforms popular music into art music. which has a much more evident social function (popular and folk music). loaded with nationalism. ethnicity.

1969). 23 Heitor Villa-Lobos. ano 1. that is the question. African Brazilians. (taking into account the obvious disparities between the racial and cultural formation in Brazil and European countries).” Indeed. as the Choros series demonstrates.”23 Although Villa-Lobos mentioned only folklore. along with folklore. 104. Brazilian Modernists’ “Anthropophagic” Philosophy Mário de Andrade’s thoughts in the Essay were related to Brazilian modernists’ efforts to establish a national Brazilian identity through their art. For instance. VillaLobos also drew upon the popular choro and Brazilian Amerindian musical elements (to some extent) to compose his nationalistic music. In music. and some European minorities that lived in Brazil. all of which were important to the formation of the diverse Brazilian ethnicities. forming. no. but changed the original ‘to be’ for tupy.” In addition. especially the Indianist ones. the cultural elements of the Brazilian Golden Age that modernists were aiming to portray in their art. he spelled tupy instead of tupi. the characteristic traits of his personality and of the country in which he was born […].24 Among others. these ethnicities held. in their own ways. Provocatively. By drawing upon Indian Primitivism. reveals in his compositions the natural tendencies of his predestination and the ethnic influence of his temperament. while demonstrating in his work the exact knowledge of the diverse styles of Music [capital letter meaning European cosmopolitan music]. They used French words in their poetry and prose to make allusion to the French cultural influence in Brazil. Plastic artists used European techniques such as cubism and surrealism to portray themes related to Brazil. writers referred to Freud’s psychology (the concept of the subconscious) and existential dilemmas of modern man. employing in an elevated manner the folkloric motives of the country in which he has been living and forming his mentality. Villa-Lobos connected his art to an immemorial Brazilian past that conveyed an “authentic” outlook to his music. the correct Portuguese spelling. 293. Andrade purposely changes the place of the comma from Shakespeare’s original “To be or not to be. By using European musical techniques to display this Indianism. “Tupy. and conveyed the most aggressive manifestations of Brazilian musical nationalism available in the 1920s. In this sense. therefore. Villa-Lobos affirmed: “The original creator is that who. In respect to this musical aesthetic of assimilation. drew on Primitivism. (Rio de Janeiro: MEC – Museu Villa-Lobos. any source material that an artist believed to hold the “essence” of the country. the most celebrated phrase from Oswald’s Anthropophagic Manifesto. Oswald de Andrade’s Manifestos epitomized this quest of Brazilian modernists’ aesthetic approach in the 1920s.. “Apologia à Arte” in Presença de Villa-Lobos volume III. 24 Modernists employed historical themes related to Native Brazilians. Oswald used a well-known phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 25 Oswald de Andrade. 231 . a native cannibal tribe from colonial times in Brazil who ate their enemies both to absorb their powers and as an act of revenge. Revista de Antropofagia. Villa-Lobos created an outreaching avenue to display abroad the Indianist “essence” of his country. Portuguese.”25 reveals much of the essence of modernists’ philosophies. the incorporation of elements related to the roots of Brazilian people and references to modern European aesthetics became common themes for modernist artists.1 (May 1928). or not tupy that is the question. In this process.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Most Choros. Villa-Lobos worked toward the same goals of other modernist artists and developed this aesthetic of assimilation as well. 1st ed. Indian Primitivism was inherent to the nature of Brazilian society because Indians were part of the national landscape and became emblematic figures of the “untouched essence” of Brazil. would reveal what he referred to as a composer’s “predestination and ethnic influence of his temperament.

95.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY Andrade subtlety suggested that Tupis ate Shakespeare and absorbed his “powers” (in this case. According to Villa-Lobos. 1995). 3 represents the “sonorous atmosphere of the primitive music of the aborigines of the states of Mato Grosso do Sul e Goiás. and professor. 3. Heitor Villa-Lobos. “Choros no. 27 Heitor Villa-Lobos in Béhague. Choros no. 1887-1959 (Jefferson.3 opens with a canonic exposition of the ‘Nozani-Ná’ theme. Noal anaue. Among the material Pinto collected are Amerindian melodies (archived in the Museu Nacional). 28 Eero Tarasti. anthropologist. Thus. He was part of the socalled Missão Rondon (Rondon Mission). which includes both choral singing and wind ensembles. Villa-Lobos even dedicated this work to Oswald de Andrade and his first wife Tarsila do Amaral. physician. In that trip. Andrade profoundly and succinctly sums the primary concern of Brazilian modernists. but historically bound to Europe. in using an indigenous melody to elaborate imitative polyphonic texture (emblematic of European musical techniques) Villa-Lobos made a clear reference to the idea of assimilating the foreign to portray the national in the very opening bars of Choros no.”28 and he further affirmed that “The timbre is ascribable to Brazilian Indian music. Villa-Lobos used the Pareci melodies Nozani-ná Orekua. which means Woodpecker) provides a musical example of modernist’s “anthropophagic” aesthetic. 29 Tarasti. and which could be appreciated in Brazil as a synthesis of the Brazilian character and exported to Europe as signal of artistic independence. for male chorus and wind ensemble. a feasting song of the Pareci Indians collected by ethnologist Roquete Pinto26 in the state of Mato Grosso. Brazilian Marshal Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon. Although Indians’ music may have some degrees of polyphony. North Carolina: Mc Farland and Company Inc. the “power” of his emblematic phrase). Villa-Lobos used as important source material the melody Nozani-Na Orekuá. In Choros no. 232 . The Rondon Mission’s objective was to expand the telegraphic line within the state of Mato Grosso and take it to other neighbor states. namely the formation of a Brazilian identity independent of.”27 Regarding the Indianist character of this piece. for instance. an important anthropological book about Brazil. which Villa-Lobos incorporated into some of his compositions. 95. creating a thick imitative polyphonic texture (figure 1). 3 (subtitled Pica-pau. 76. Through allusion to Brazilian natives and the existential dilemma from the ‘European structure’ of Shakespeare’s celebrated passage. The synthesis of both European-ness and nativeness intrinsic to the structure of Oswald’s “anthropophagic” phrase reflected the essence of the ethnic and socio-cultural diversity of Brazilian people and embodied the artistic philosophy of the Brazilian Modernist Movement. named after the chief of the expedition. and Ena-mô-kocê. As Simon Wright noticed. the pioneers of the “Pau Brazil” and “Anthropophagic” philosophies. In this piece. Choros no. Eero Tarasti observed that “the theme Nozani-Ná itself and its arrangement for male chorus and wind ensemble […] may well be thought to imitate corresponding wind groups of the Brazilian Indians. Heitor Villa-Lobos. he collected ethnographic material that generated the book Rondônia: Antropologia Etnográfica (Rondônia: Ethnographic Anthropology) in 1917.3. they make no such use of rich imitative structures. 3: “Musical Anthropophagy” Villa-Lobos’s Choros no. essayist. in which Pinto came in contact with different Amerindian tribes such as the Parecis and Inhambiquaras. following 26 Roquete Pinto was an ethnographer.”29 In the beginning of the piece the indigenous melody is presented first by the tenor voice and two horns in F in unison followed by consecutive imitative entrances of the same melody. Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Life and Works.

the fact that the word “Brasil” is set within modal (pentatonic) rather than on a strong cadential dominant-tonic resolution evades any sense of a triumphant and rejoicing character [typical of Western music]. After the “pica-pau” section. a bird commonly found in Brazil’s forests. which. Villa-Lobos. 66. Against the rhythm of the “pica-pau. Wright affirmed: “juxtaposing long-breathed lyrical melody together with reiterated syllabic patterns imitative of Indian incantation […] became. He suggested that in this passage VillaLobos musically portrayed a “tupi de casaca. 33 Béhague. “Noal anaue” and “Ena-mô-kocê. According to Wright. the music material in the final passage of Choros no. Villa-Lobos introduced the word “pica-pau” (woodpecker). 81.” or a dressed up tupi. this technique became very common in the Choros and later works. both of which sound like an emulation of Indians’ vocalizations.” also collected by Pinto. approached through glissando techniques reminiscent of the first section of “Indian” singing. Villa-Lobos re-introduced the Nozani-ná theme. in truth.”31 In the new section. Villa-Lobos added two other Pareci melodies. and through chromatic altered tones VillaLobos obscured even more the nonfunctional modal harmonic progression. Villa-Lobos. the tempo is marked “Lento” and Villa-Lobos brings the word “pica-pau” back again and combines it with the word “Brazil.” Villa-Lobos introduced a fragment of the Nozani-ná melody with the rhythm in triplets and note values augmented. Wright. on a “vuzfzfzf…” nonsensical “text. this time was “accompanied” by a rhythmic reminiscence of the “pica-pau” section.” suggesting the word “Pau-Brasil. the final tonic chord. According to him. Wright. Villa-Lobos.”30 After the imitative entrances of the Nozani-ná theme. 31 32 233 . and the piece moves to what Wright called a “Jungle atmosphere […] caricatured by an Indianist imitation of a woodpecker. in the chorus and created a rich rhythmic texture that emulates the pecking of this bird. Villa-Lobos. Following these melodies Villa-Lobos wrote glissandi on the syllables “Iô-Ê” and the vocal effect “zzzizzz” (figure 2). As Béhague observed. Moreover. not held very long in spite of the fermata. a convenient method of demonstrating any combination of Brazilian racial or cultural elements”32 (figure 3). 3 corroborates the modernist aesthetic of assimilation and synthesis. 65.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Schloeza’s prediction that Villa-Lobos would ‘adopt European methods’ within his new forms.33 30 Wright. Béhague’s analysis revealed that in this passage Villa-Lobos used the minor pentatonic melody C-Eb-F-G-Bb (referring to Indian music) on the first tenor part. Toward the end of the piece.” can only be interpreted as an ironic intention on the part of the composer.” which makes reference to Oswald de Andrade’s manifesto (figure 4). 65.

3). Paris: Max Eschig 234 . Choros no.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY Figure 1: (First Three Pages of Choros no. All Score Excerpts in this Article were Transcribed by me from the following Edition: Heitor Villa-Lobos. 3.

GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Figure 1: (continuation) 235 .


GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Figure 2: Glissandi on “zzzizzz” 237 .


GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Figure 3: Fragment of the Nozani-ná Melody with the Rhythms Altered. and the “PicaPau” Rhythm 239 .


3 241 .GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ Figure 4 : Final passage of Choros no.

Along with other pieces. I demonstrated that VillaLobos synthesized local Indian elements and European musical techniques together to elaborate the nationalistic musical language of this piece. fostering national culture within Brazil. This task still needs to be thoroughly pursued.” such as the assimilation of the foreign to portray the national (almost in a “cannibalistic” way). political. but also received a major intellectual boost from modernists’ philosophies. 3 displays not only Villa-Lobos’s “anthropophagic” aesthetic. this article demonstrated that Choros fulfilled the principles of Brazilian modernist philosophies. if one agrees with Béhague and interprets this final passage as ironic. Choros no. and cultural environments in which he lived. and representing brasilidade overseas as a symbol of Brazilian artistic independence. Along with the rest of the Choros series. it was certainly an advantage that he used in his favor. in Choros no. This endeavor reflected the major intellectual dilemma of post-colonial Brazilian society: the search for the Brazilian character. Conclusion As I suggest. Indeed. The artistic effervescence in Europe certainly provided Villa-Lobos with the right environment to become the composer he was aiming to be. 3 not only resulted from Villa-Lobos’s own philosophical and musical pursuits. But to say that he exaggerated brasilidade simply because he wanted to fulfill Parisians’ expectations and become popular is a mistake that discredits his preoccupations with conveying the ideals of Brazilian modernistic nationalism in his music. 242 . Choros no. which guaranteed the “exportation” and success of his Choros in Paris. despite French’s exoticization of these pieces. 3. 3 (as in rest of the series) Villa-Lobos fulfilled several principles of modernists’ philosophies that were epitomized in Oswald de Andrade’s “Anthropophagic Manifesto. and should be understood not as opportunism but as Villa-Lobos’s contribution to the foremost Brazilian artistic pursuits of his time. Thus. and if Europeans were receptive to the type of music that Villa-Lobos composed. but also the same provocative and ironic attitudes that Oswald de Andrade-and other modernists-laid out in his manifestos and poetry. the Choros series is a musical synthesis of the Brazilian realities in the 1920s. and 1950s in relation to the social context in which they were produced could help to better comprehend how the breed of Villa-Lobos’s nationalism evolved throughout his life due to different social. 1940s. Two elements had special importance in the formation of Villa-Lobos’s musical language at that time: his knowledge of Brazilian local musical idioms and his assimilation of modern compositional techniques. An in-depth study of his compositions from the 1930s. Through the analysis of Choros no. Villa-Lobos’s Choros fulfilled an important role within Brazilian culture. Such an interpretation confirms Villa-Lobos’s engagement with the Brazilian modernistic aesthetic.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY Indeed.

2003. 1 (Summer. Rio de Janeiro: Livraria José Olympio Editôra. Detroit: Information Coordinators. Inc. “The ‘Choro’. David P. Brasil: Editora Movimento. Mário. ———. “Nationalism and Music. Luiz Heitor Corrêa. Heitor Villa-Lobos: Sensibilidad Americana. 1969. Inc. 1st ed. Doce Música. Rio de Janeiro: Difel. 1971. ———. Presença da Literatura Brasileira: Modernismo. New York: Cambridge University Press. Béhague. 2008. Gerard. Garcia. Rio de Janeiro: MEC – Museu Villa-Lobos. vol VIII.. O Pensamento Vivo de Heitor Villa-Lobos.” In Philosophical Writings. Music in Latin America: An Introduction.” In Nations and Identities. Livingston-Isenhour.” In Music Makes the Nation: Nationalist Composers and Nation Building in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Maria Celia. 79-101. 279-291. Andrade. Laplatine. Beard. Kiefer. Geertz. “Villa-Lobos. Rio de Janeiro: Martin Claret Editores. NY: Cambria Press. de Andrade. 1963. Benjamin. Cândido. Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers. 1987. Machado. 1996. Oswald. University of Austin (TX): Institute of Latin American Studies. São Paulo: Livraria Martins Editora. Villa-Lobos: A Bio-Bibliography. Bruno. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. edited by Vincent Pecora. 1977.. Carvalho. “Tradição e Modernindade no Brasil. ———. Johann Gottfried.” In Tradição e Moderninade. 143-167. Ano 1. Revista de Antropofagia. Porto Alegre. Cuba: Ediciones Unión. Curtis. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rio: MEC-Museu VillaLobos. organized by Antônio Mourão Cavalcante and Ismael Pordeus Jr. História da Música Brasileira: Dos Primórdios ao Início do Séc. 1990. Manuel.. XX. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp.” Luso-Brazilian Review 34. Clifford. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.” In Between Romanticism and Modernism: Four Studies in the Music of the Later Nineteenth Century. 106. 1. translated and edited by Michael N. Foster. 2001. Antônio. Thomas G. translated by Mary Whittall. London: Verso. Hermínio Bello de. the Guitar and Villa-Lobos. 1979. François. Jorge.” In Música. 1981. 2002. Coli.” In Presença de Villa-Lobos.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ References Anderson. Villa-Lobos: A Life (1887-1959). London: Routledge. “Treatise on the Origin of Language. 1928. David and Kenneth Gloag. Carl. Rio de Janeiro: Espaço e Tempo. “Vila-Lobos versus Vila-Lobos. Herder. vol. no. Tamara Elena. New York: Greenwood Press. The Beginnings of Musical Nationalism in Brazil. 1997): 57-66. 2005. 17-39. Fortaleza: Edições UFC. 1980. 1988. Brasília: Livraria Martins Editora. 1988. and Thomas George Caracas Garcia. Giro. Inc. no. ———. 65-164. Musicology: The Key Concepts. 1994. 1972. 121. Dahlhaus. London: The Scarecrow Press. O Canto do Pajé: Villa-Lobos e a Música Popular Brasileira. Appleby. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2005. 1973. “Nationalism in Music. Bandeira. 1983. ———. 2002. “Villa-Lobos. 1956.” In Presença de Villa-Lobos. and José Aderaldo Castello. Villa-Lobos e o Modernismo na Música Brasileira. 9th ed. Classic Readings. Radamés. Amherst. ———. 243 . Ensaio Sobre a Música Brasileira. 1998. “The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the States. de Azevedo. Porto Alegre: Editora Movimento. Benedict. 150 anos de Música no Brasil (180-1950). Música Final. Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Search for Brazil’s Musical Soul. VIII.

. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers. ———. 1999): 221-55. 1983. 1998. The Villa-Lobos Letters. 1987. 1981. no. Smith. 1969. ———. Taruskin. edited by Vincent Pecora. Community. 1987): 132-33+35. “Nationalism and Latin American Music: Selected Case Studies and Theoretical Considerations. London: Toccata Press. Villa-Lobos: Collected Studies. 72. ———. vol.” In Presença de Villa-Lobos. Wisnik.” In British Journal of Ethnomusicology.oxfordmusiconline. “Villa-Lobos: Modernism in the Tropics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cultura Brasileira e Identidade Nacional. 1996. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Civilização Brasileira. Erudita e Folclórica. “Apologia a Arte.” In International Affairs (Royal Institute for International Affairs). no. Villa-Lobos. Mariz. Marcos Antônio. 1995. São Paulo. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor. 333-353. and Territory: The Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism. Villa-Lobos. 445-458. 2006. Renato. Heitor Villa-Lobos: Compositor Brasileiro. Classic Readings. 1969. Ortiz. Elizabeth.THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE ARTS IN SOCIETY Marcondes. “The Origins of Nations. Simon. 1992. 2003): 169-209. ———. Neves. Wright.. (accessed December 1. North Carolina: Mc Farland and Company Inc. Reily. no. Sekeff. Richard.” In Nations and Identities. São Paulo: Ricordi Brasileira.2 (Spring/Summer. Modernismo e Música Brasileira.” In Ethnomusicology 43. São Paulo: Art Editora e Publifolha. 1994. “Signs of Imagination. Mário de Andrade e Villa-Lobos. 2009. Maria De Lourdes. São Paulo: Martins Fontes. 2001. Brazilian Identities. José Miguel. 1996. ed. Rio de Janeiro: MEC -Museu Villa-Lobos. 2010). no. 1729 (March. Identity and Experience: A Peircian Semiotic Theory for Music. Villa-Lobos: O Florescimento da Música Brasileira. vol. Anthony.ufl. um Novo Olhar. translation Stéfano Paschoal. Eero. Vasco. Peppercorn.” In Latin American Music Review/Revista de Musica Latino Americana 24. Lisa Maria. The World of Villa-Lobos in Pictures and Letters. 3. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar Editores. Flávia C. Jefferson. Rio de Janeiro: MEC-Museu Villa-Lobos. São Paulo: Centro Cultural São Paulo.lp. 1887-1959. Turino. Toni. Translated and edited by Lisa Maria Peppercorn.. Thomas. 244 . Livraria Duas Cidades. “Introduction: Brazilian Musics. Heitor. 104. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers. Tarasti.” In Presença de Villa-Lobos. Negwer Manuel. “Villa-Lobos. Oxford Music Online. Heitor Villa-Lobos: The Life and Works. Travassos. ———. José Maria. ———.3.hscl. Suzel Ana. 1-10.” In The Musical Times 128. História da Música no Brasil. “Culture. volume III.” Arteunesp 12 (1996): 185-192. 107.2 (Autumn/Winter. Paris: Max Eschig. edited by Suzel Ana Reily and Martin Clayton. 2000. Música Contemporânea Brasileira. http://www. III. 1977. Enciclopédia da Música Brasileira Popular. São Paulo: Brasiliense. “Nationalism” in Grove Music Online. Choros No. 1981. 2000. “Conceitos. O Coro dos Contrários: A Música em torno da Semana de 22. UK: British Forum for Ethnomusicology. 1st ed. 1st ed. Hants (England): Scolar Press. Hants (England): Scolar Press. ———. ———.

won the 2011 Otto MayerSerra Award for Music Research for the “Best Unpublished Article of Latin American Music” with his article “Heitor Villa-Lobos e Getúlio Vargas: Doutrinando Crianças por Meio da Educação Musical. Ferraz has performed in Brazil and the USA and has worked extensively as a collaborator with instrumentalists and singers.” and Thomas Turino’s concept of “indexicality. Ferraz draws upon Benedict Anderson’s concept of “imagined communities. Mr. more recently.GABRIEL AUGUSTO FERRAZ About the Author Gabriel Augusto Ferraz Brazilian musician Gabriel Ferraz is a PhD Candidate in Historical Musicology and Teaching Assistant in Music History at the University of Florida. He was awarded the 2010 University of Florida Outstanding International Student Award and.” This award was sponsored by the University of California Riverside and the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music and carried a cash prize and a publication in the Latin American Music Review. His ongoing PhD dissertation investigates the mechanisms in which the program of music education implemented by Heitor Villa-Lobos in Brazil contributed to the dissemination of the nationalistic ideologies of Getúlio Vargas’s regime from 1932 to 1945. France. as well as in Italy. This research will be imperative to the understanding of this neglected aspect of Villa-Lobos’s career as well as it will enlighten several elements of the interactions between music and politics. He pursued a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance at Miami University (OH) and a Master’s Degree in Musicology at the University of São Paulo. As a pianist. Brazil. In his interdisciplinary research Mr. Brazil. Ferraz presented papers in several conferences in the USA such as the 2011 American Musicological Society National Meeting and the 2009 American Musicological Society Southern Chapter Meeting. 245 . and Portugal.” demonstrating that Villa-Lobos actively participated in forming a community of children that “imagined” itself united through shared nationalistic and patriotic values “indexed” in their minds through musical practices in schools. Mr.


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