Nuances of Continual Variation in the Brazilian Pagode Song “Sorriso Aberto”
This chapter analyzes a live recording of the iconic song “Sorriso Aberto” (“Open Smile”) by Guará in order to bring out some of the principal sonic characteristics of pagode, a radical reformulation of samba initiated in the 1970s in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte. Rather than reducing pagode performance to a set of characteristic patterns, it proceeds from the notion that pagode is a set of practices that subsists on the micro-nuances of continual variation. The recording has a dense profile—instruments blend together, and subtle sounds are covered over—raising questions about audibility that this chapter addresses. It provides an overview of the history of “Sorriso Aberto,” and recounts the particular circumstances of this performance. The song’s lyrics and its melodic and harmonic structure are analyzed. The final part of the chapter analyzes studio “re-recordings”, assembled into an audiovisual “virtual roda” that allows the reader to listen to any combination of instrumental parts. The chapter thus proceeds from general history to a particular analysis of the micro-level sonic details of a single performance.
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