chapter  4
24 Pages

From Processions to Encontros: The Performance Niches of the Community Bands of Minas Gerais, Brazil

The bandas de música that inspired the song are still prevalent in many parts of Brazil, although the availability of electric amplification has allowed other ensembles to compete with them for the same outdoor events, reducing demand for their performances. Fearing that mass culture would eventually erode this ‘rich and joyful Brazilian tradition’, the Brazilian National Foundation for the Arts (Funarte) began its ‘Band Project’ (Projeto Banda) in 1976. The project was designed to support community-based bandas de música, to the exclusion of a range of other ensembles, such as military bands, school bands (fanfarras or bandas marciais) and folk groups, even if wind instruments may have been central

to their line-ups. While there are likely to be several hundred bandas de música in Brazil that are not accounted for in Funarte’s lists, the foundation has registered a total of 2,169 bands to date, covering the entire country. Of these, 421 are based in Minas Gerais, the federal state with the largest number of bandas de música in the country.2 Following the lead provided by Funarte, the Programme in Support of Bandas of the State of Minas Gerais was instituted recently, and it has already registered 685 bandas de música in the state.3