Student Research Projects

Discovering the Culture of Brazil through Music

Student Joy Olds '18 (English)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Music
Course APMU 111: Wesleyan Singers


Studying and applying vocal techniques of Brazilian culture can be difficult. I was selected to sing in the National Honors Choir at the ACDA Conference. One of the pieces we sang from Brazil was titled “Estrela e Lua Nova,” which is sung in Portuguese and therefore required me to learn the translation to give the words the proper emotion. “Estrela e Lua Nova” is an a cappella love song that uses soprano, alto, tenor, and bass (SATB) voices that harmonize with solo and choir voices, blending together to produce unique elements of music that are different than American music. It was especially challenging because we had no accompaniment. For this piece to be performed, its dynamics, rhythms, harmonies, forms, texture, language, and culture must be understood. The Brazilian musical elements make the piece effective. Brazilian music relies heavily on repetitive rhythms that either use or mimic percussion instruments. As a choir, we were directed to move with the beat, which encouraged the audience to get involved. The music is meant to simulate feelings and involve the audience in the experience. The composers focus on nationalism and universal trends while writing Brazilian pieces. Also, the rhythmic patterns and percussion improvising and style of South American music is frequently performed in religious practices.


Virginia Wesleyan Research Conference Grant.


American Choral Directors Association's 2015 National Conference in Salt Lake City in February 2015