The Phonographic Trade of Brazilian Popular Music

Brief history

Placing the wax cylinder into a phonograph
Brand Edison.

            Frederick Figner, Czech American naturalized, arrived in Belém do Pará at the end of 1891, coming from the United States. He brought in his luggage a sound device called a phonograph (manufactured by Thomas Edison), with some wax rolls that recorded the sound spoken or music. The following year, after successfully presenting the novelty in some northeastern states, he settled in Rio de Janeiro, with his famous Casa Edison (founded in 1900), located in a block of Uruguaiana street, with import and trade of Instruments and cylinders of foreign music, as well as scores and instruments.

A little earlier, the German scientist Emile Berliner patented in the United States, in 1887, another equipment (gramophone), magnetically recording the voice in a metallic conductor, reproducing the sound on a flat, disk-shaped surface, manually operated by a crank.

As a curiosity, the nickname in English of the term gramophone, derived from the name of the factory that produced the device (Gramophone Company) later gave rise to the name of the musical prize (Grammy Awards), one of the most important of the world music industry.

PHOTO 3: © McCord Museum

The invention was further enhanced by the creation of the Victor Talking Machine (1901) by the American engineer Eldridge Johnson: the "victrola" that reproduces, with better quality, the Berliner discs, mounted inside a piece of furniture.

Upon realizing the potential of the new invention, Fred Figner transferred his establishment in 1901 to Ouvidor Street # 107, when he opened his first recording studio and record retail. With the initial participation of the German recording company Zonophone, from the following year appeared the first Brazilian discs, recorded by the already mentioned singers Baiano, Cadete, followed by Mário Pinheiro, Eduardo das Neves, the flautist Patápio Silva, and the Fire Brigade and Edison House bands. Popular music began its consolidation process as a cultural activity of entertainment on a commercial scale, when it spread its interpreters and composers all over the country, in the various musical genres of the period, such as the modinha, waltz, cançoneta, maxixes , Lundu, marching, folded, cateretê, polka, choro and the emergent samba.



Frederico Figner's historic Casa Edison pioneered the popularization of phonographic equipment, as well as the dissemination and commercialization of Brazilian music.

In 1912, Figner installed ODEON, the first national record factory, located on Boulevard 28 de Setembro in Tijuca, importing the necessary equipment from Germany. Anthological recordings were performed at that time by the Gaucho group of instruments Terror of the Facões, led by Octavio Dutra, sophisticated composer of waltzes and polcas and a virtuoso in strummed string instruments. Also worthy of mention is the Choro Carioca ensemble, with the debut of the talented flautist Pixinguinha, at the age of 14, participating in the launch of the Daynéia, Albertina and Nininha polkadots of his master Irineu de Almeida (bombardino and oficleide) accompanied by Bonfiglio de Oliveira Piston) and the brothers Léo, Otávio (guitars) and Henrique Viana (cavaquinho).
In 1925, the electric recording process was created, raising the quality of the disc to an infinitely higher level, with the speed of the recording standardized worldwide at 78 RPM. In Brazil, the singer Francisco Alves was the pioneer, in 1927, with the launch of the Albertina march and the samba Passarinho do Má, written by Antonio Lopes from Amorim Diniz, accompanied by the Orchestra Pan American of the Copacabana Casino, on Odeon label. In a short time, Francisco Alves became the most prestigious singer of our phonography, having recorded, in the period from 1927 to 1931, the impressive figure of 494 songs (taken from the book Francisco Alves: the thousand songs of the Voice King, Of Abel Cardoso Junior, Ed. Revivendo, 1998), equivalent to 41 LPs (with 12 tracks), that is, an average of eight LPs per year. With the success achieved in Brazil of the electric disc, the record labels Parlophon (1928), Columbia, Victor and Brunswick, were installed in 1929.


The interpreter Francisco Alves and the composer Duque, protagonists of the pioneer disc 78 RPM. In the early twentieth century, the dancer (also a dentist and journalist) became famous as Duque, promoting Maxixe with exquisite choreography, accompanied by his partners, in presentations mainly in Rio de Janeiro (where his Caboclo House dates) , In Paris and Latin American countries.

In 1948, the Englishman Peter Goldmark released the LP (abbreviation of Long Play), vinyl records, lighter and more resistant, with a larger number of songs and a better sound quality. The vinyl records were produced in different formats, the main ones being played at 33 1/3 rotations per minute, presented to the international market by Columbia. RCA Victor Americana also produced discs played at 45 revolutions per minute, seven inches in diameter, with a capacity of eight minutes per side and four tracks in total. In Brazil, the fourth country (preceded only by the United States, England and France) to join the new system, the album arrived in January 1951, when the Capitol / Sinter label released the LP 10 'Carnival in Long-Playing' with eight Bands, in which national names such as Geraldo Pereira, Heleninha Costa and Os Cariocas, among others, sang songs for that year's carnival. The number one track, which began the era of the Brazilian LP, was Marcha do Neném, by Klécius Caldas and Armando Cavalcanti, sung by Oscarito and presented by the brilliant actor, in 1950, in the great comedy Watson Macedo's "Warning Aos Navegantes". The second LP 10 'Parade of Successes, label Sinter, appeared only a year later, also with eight tracks, with emphasis on De Papo Pro Á (de Joubert de Carvalho), José Menezes (instrumental), Baionando (Humberto Teixeira and Luiz Gonzaga), with pianist Carolina Cardoso de Menezes, Tim Tim Por Tim (Haroldo Barbosa and Geraldo Jacques), with Os Cariocas, and Pedro do Pedregulho (Geraldo Pereira), with the author. It is also worth mentioning, in 1958, the production of the first independent album by the composer miner Pacífico Mascarenhas, a young man of then 23 years "tuned" with the bossa nova, that reunited four native musicians, left for Rio de Janeiro and recorded, to its Expense, in the studio of Companhia Brasileira de Discos the LP A Musical Tour, with Paulinho and his set, with great songs of his own. This pioneering project was relaunched by the label Discobertas in 2011, which has been outstanding in the market for the reissue of LPs, most unpublished in CD.

 PHOTO 6: Author Archives

Original historical LP cover A Musical Tour, including romantic and melodic songs from the dancing and dancing hours of Belo Horizonte and surrounding areas, where singer Gilberto Santana (credit Marcus Vinicius), accompanied by Paulo Modesto on the piano, on drums (Dario) and In the bass (Alvarenga), present the work of the master Pacific Mascarenhas, among other pearls: They came to tell me, I wept to wait, choro Turma da Savassi (partnership with José Guimarães and Luiz Mario Barros), and the instrumental Nada Me Importa By Othon Russo).

In the 1980s, the CD (Compact Disc) appeared which, according to some experts, does not store all the amplitude of the sounds provided by the vinyl. The advertisement of the CD, with the elimination of noise, anticipated the inevitable end of the LP, of conservation and more complicated handling. However, to this day LPs and turntables are manufactured.
When the first processor capable of compressing audio came to Nuremberg / Germany in the mid-1970s, after much research and research, MP3 software, patented in 1995 in the United States. In 1997, the pioneering MP3 player was created at the Avanced Media Products Labs in Los Angeles, named AMP, which then provided with other technological developments, quick and easy computer access to thousands of songs in competition with Record labels, and generating new discussions. Among its advantages, we mention the size of a compressed music file, reduced to 10% of the original, with an imperceptible loss of quality. Polemics aside, the current national sound market is mainly made up of the CD industry (in spite of the easy accessibility of music, via the Internet, free or at reasonable prices), it forgets an incredible and important discography released in LP, which Remains unknown to the general public. Based on the work carried out for our book, the following is an expressive list of albums, for which a little more attention is expected from those who deal with Brazilian popular music, notably labels and relevant entities.

© Copyright 2008 - Pelo Telefone: A trip through Popular Brazilian Music.

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