Interdisciplinary Study of the Ox and the Slave (Bumba-Meu-Boi). A Satirical Music Drama in Brazil

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This interdisciplinary study sheds light on the communal creative process of music and discusses the process of music change in Bumba-meu-Boi, and provides an example of exo-semantic analysis in the quest for the truth of this folk drama. It argues that Bumba-meu-Boi, sheds light on 18th century Brazil, and reveals existing levels of interaction between classes (master-slave, oppressor-oppressed) on sugar can plantations and mills. A sociologist perspective demonstrates that the structure of the Bumba-meu-Boi reflects a similar network of relations as they exist in communities where it is performed. The study contains a glossary, comprehensive bibliography, and a reproduction of the entire play.


"Written in a clear style free of jargon, this book introduces and analyzes from several different angles a folk drama common in Maranhão (Maranhao) , in northwest Brazil. The presentation of this drama provides an opportunity to release aggressions through the hilarious display of social sanctions and to simultaneously express devotion to St. John, St. Peter, and St. Mark. Kazadi wa Mukuna (Kent State Univ.) first presents an argument for the origin of the drama by the slave population (contrary to many other writings), then describes and analyzes in detail the event itself, its role in the past and in current society, and its adaptation to changing musical tastes. Extensive song texts and translations, 15 photos (7 in color), 15 songs in musical notation, and a glossary complement this thorough study that gives a deeper understanding of this genre than earlier scholarship affords. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." - CHOICE

“In this research Kazadi has addressed more than the questions of methodology. He has reformulated a series of incomplete or even misleading concepts nurtured and fostered by various writers….He provides an up-to-date and comprehensive study of Bumba-meu-Boi in Maranhão with an unprecedented detailed interpretation. With this study Kazadi has contributed to the demystification of this fascinating folk drama, and shed light on a significant segment of the Brazilian popular culture…. Kazadi has revealed the value of an interdisciplinary research by bringing together anthropology, history, linguistics, musicology, semantics and sociology, capable of producing a rich result on the subject.” – Prof. Dr. Tiago de Oliveira Pinto, University of São Paolo

“Kazadi’s work is a well thought out study that will serve as a model, groundbreaker, for students of the Brazilian culture and those studying rapport between members from different social classes.” – Prof. Dr. Gerhard Kubik, Vienna

“In addition to a detailed analysis of the musical form and presentation of this Brazilian pageant as it is performed today, he looks at its origin and role within the context of a colonial and the present day societies. By examining the historical attitudes expressed by contemporary writers during the nineteenth century, Professor Mukuna is able to trace the suppression and reappearance of the festival. His detailed account of a performance cycle, including the transcription of the songs, the interpretation of the lyrics and the description of the costumes brings alive a centuries-old tradition that remains the subject of scholarship in the twenty-first century. This book is a welcome contribution to the study of the Brazilian folkloric tradition.” – Miki Goral, Reference & Instructional Services, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California at Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. An Argument for the Brazilian Origin of Bumba-meu-Boi
2. Structural Organization of Bumba-meu-Boi
3. Styles and Stylistic Changes in Bumba-meu-Boi
4. The Process of Assimilation of Bumba-meu-Boi in Maranhão
5. Anatomy of Bumba-meu-Boi Song Texts
Appendix 1: Music Transcriptions
Appendix 2: Transcription and Translation of Song Texts
Glossary; Bibliography; Index

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