Voices of Drought: The Politics of Music and Environment in Northeastern Brazil

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


In Voices of Drought, Michael B. Silvers proposes a scholarship focused on environmental justice to understand key questions in the study of music and the environment. His ecomusicological perspective offers a fascinating approach to events in Ceará, a northeastern Brazilian state affected by devastating droughts. These crises have a profound impact on social difference and stratification, and thus on forró music in the sertão (backlands) of the region. At the same time, the complex interactions of popular music and social conditions also help create the environment.

Silvers offers case studies focused on the sertão that range from the Brazilian wax harvested in Ceará for use in early wax cylinder sound recordings to the drought- and austerity-related cancelation of Carnival celebrations in 2014-16. Unearthing links between music and the environmental and social costs of drought, his daring synthesis explores ecological exile, poverty, and unequal access to water resources alongside issues like corruption, prejudice, unbridled capitalism, and expanding neoliberalism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationUrbana
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press
Number of pages212
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-252-05083-1
ISBN (Print)978-0-252-08377-8, 978-0-252-04208-9
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Brazil
  • cultural policy
  • sound studies
  • soundscapes
  • forró
  • drought
  • environmental justice
  • ecomusicology
  • ethnomusicology
  • Ceará


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