By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Journalist Franklin Martins recently released his third volume of “Quem foi que inventou o Brasil? – A música popular conta a história da República” (“Who invented Brazil? – Popular music tells the story of the Republic”), a trilogy of books (in Portuguese) that follows the history of Brazilian music from 1902 to 2002 and the music’s connection to the country’s development and political transitions.
For the trilogy of books, of which the third in the series was officially released on August 11th, Martins studied and collected more than 1,100 songs composed or released during the hundred years between 1902 and 2002. They range from songs from the early days of the First Brazilian Republic to samba to 1970s and 1980s rock to rap and baile funk in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The name for the trilogy, was inspired by the marchinha (popular Carnival song), “Quem foi que inventou o Brasil?”, (Who Invented Brazil), by Lamartine Babo. The song addresses the origin of the country and the mixture of its ancestors, the Portuguese, the Native Indians and the Africans.
Most of the featured songs address Brazilian culture in conjunction with politics. Martins research into the correlation between Brazil’s music and its politics began in 1997 when he created a special section for political speeches and songs on his website.
During his career, Martins has worked as a journalist and political commentator for outlets including Jornal do Brazil, O Globo, O Estado de S. Paulo, Jornal de Brasilia, and Época, among others. He also served as Chief Minister of the Secretariat of Social Communication for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his second term.
“Brazilian music is the chronicle of national political life. There is no material fact that has not been the subject of one or more songs composed in the heat of the moment,” Martins stated during an episode of the TV Brasil “Espaço Público” program earlier in July.
The first song chosen for Volume I of the collection, “As laranjas da Sabina,” originally a letter written by playwright Arthur Azevedo, deals with a student demonstration following the ban of a biracial fruit seller outside of Universidade de Medicina do Rio (Rio University of Medicine).
Volume I then follows with the music of the First Brazilian Republic, lasting from 1889 and ending in a military coup in 1930, and continues to the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état. The second volume continues with the music of the military regime that followed the 1964 coup and which lasted until 1985. The works address the ditadura (dictatorship) and the resistance of some to it and includes songs by or performed by Elis Regina, Gilberto Gil, Quarteto em Cy, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes, Milton Mascimento, Legião Urbana, Gonzaguinha, and Capital Inicial, among others.
The final volume chronicles the rise of rap, MCs, and funk as well as the continuation of political rock and hard rock in Brazil including works by Planet Hemp, MCs Juninho and Leonardo, Mister Catra, Ira!, Skank, Naçao Zumbi, and O Rappa, among others.
While all three volumes are written in Portuguese, English-speaking music lovers and those interested in Brazilian music history might still find the books’ website of interest. On it, Martins shares excerpts and full, playable versions of songs he discusses in the books.
To hear some of the songs and for more information about purchasing the books, see the official website.