Birdsong and a song about a bird: Popular music and the mediation of traditional ecological knowledge in Northeastern Brazil

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The mid-twentieth century songs of popular singer Luiz Gonzaga include lyrics about northeastern Brazil's traditional ecological knowledge. For individuals who predict rain and drought based on natural patterns in the region's semi-arid backlands, Gonzaga's music continues to lend credibility, clarity, and local significance to the practice known as rain prophecy. Through cultural history, lyrical and musical analysis, and ethnography, this article examines the process through which Gonzaga's voice became a vehicle for the transmission of knowledge about the weather, suggesting that music produced through a profit-driven industry has played a role in the maintenance of local ecological knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-397
Number of pages18
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Music

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