The largest South American country has an often surprising and overlooked history. In this unit, students see Brazil as a unique, dynamic country with an important history, diverse culture, and its own path of development.
- Learn and apply basic musical terminology
- Visually represent and analyze the music and lyrics of a Brazilian song
- Discuss the meaning of each song and the political power of music
- Assess the benefits of studying music as a way to better understand Brazilian history and culture
Students should have read Part III in the student text.
- Analyzing a Song
- Music Map Samples: A slideshow of two sample music maps for use with the lesson “Analyzing a Brazilian Song.”
- Song Lyrics
Two versions of “Que Bloco é Esse?” are available here:
It may be helpful for students to have colored pencils or markers to make their music maps.
In the Classroom
1. Opening Discussion—Pose the question “Why do people make and listen to music?” to the class. Invite students to brainstorm ideas, and record their answers on the board. Ask students what elements they think make up a song (for example lyrics, tempo, instrumentation, etc). What function might each of these elements serve on their own? When combined with other musical elements? Do songs have meanings? Ask students how they think a listener might determine the meaning of a song.
2. Establishing Groups—Inform students that they will be analyzing two versions of the same song: “Que Bloco é Esse?” Remind students that during carnival, a number of musical events take place. Explain to students that during carnival in Bahia and Recife, groups called “blocos” perform. Blocos are music groups with dancers. One of the best known blocos is Ile Aiye, a group that celebrates Afro-Brazilian pride and heritage. Tell students that many people have performed this song since Ile Aiye’s 1975 recording. Divide the class into small groups or pairs. Distribute “Song Lyrics,” “Analyzing a Song,” and “Music Map,” to each student/group. Assign half of the groups the 1975 version of the song and the other half of the class the 2012 version. As a class, listen to both versions of the song. You may wish to point out notable moments in each version or identify and discuss an element from “Analyzing a Song.”
3. Music Mapping—Tell students that a music map is a tool that can be used to visually represent the musical elements present within a song in order to better understand its complexity and meaning. Explain to students that they will be mapping their assigned version of the song. Instruct each small group to read “Analyzing a Song,” together. They should use what they learned from this handout to help them visually represent what they hear in their song on the “Music Map” handout. Tell students that they may listen to their version of the song as many times as they need. Remind them that there is no correct way to map a song. Their maps should simply illustrate what they hear and what strikes them about it. They may choose to map the entire song or just one section that they found particularly striking.
4. Sharing—Invite each group of students to share their music map with the class. Have students explain how they visually represented the song, why they made the choices that they made, which elements from “Analyzing a Song” they included in their map, and what they left off their map. Have the groups that analyzed the earlier version of the song share first, and have the students who analyzed the later version of the song share second.
5. Discussion—What strikes students about the music maps that they and their classmates made? Do students notice any overarching differences between the maps of the earlier version of the song versus the maps of the later version? Ask students what they think this song’s purpose is. What do students think the message of the song is? Which elements of the song helped students reach this conclusion? Did its purpose and message change from one version to the next or remain the same in both versions? Ask students if they think music can be an effective form of expression or protest. Does it ever lead to change? Ask students to justify their answers with examples. Ask students what they think analyzing music can reveal about Brazil. Is music a valuable source from learning about history? Why or why not?
- Invite students to write a persuasive essay in which they argue whether music is an effective source for learning about history.
- Have students choose another Brazilian song and make a music map for it.