Ethnography explores political activism of carnival brass bands in Brazil
Critical Brass tells the story of neofanfarrismo, an explosive carnival brass band community turned activist musical movement in Rio de Janeiro, as Brazil shifted from a country on the rise in the 2000s to one beset by various crises in the 2010s. Though predominantly middle-class, neofanfarristas have creatively adapted the critical theories of carnival to militate for a more democratic city. Illuminating the tangible obstacles to musical movement building, Andrew Snyder argues that festive activism with privileged origins can promote real alternatives to the neoliberal city, but meets many limits and contradictions in a society marked by diverse inequalities.
CONTENTS • Introduction: An Alternative Movement in an Olympic City • 1. Revival: The Death and Life of Street Carnival • 2. Experimentation: "To Play Anything" • 3. Inclusion: "Whose Rio?" • 4. Resistance: "Nothing Should Seem Impossible to Change" • 5. Diversification: Neofanfarrismo of the Excluded • 6. Consolidation: The HONK RiO! Festival of Activist Brass Bands • Appendix 1: Carioca Bands and Blocos discussed in the book • References
"This book is a stunning account of musical cosmopolitanism in Rio's brass band scene. Every chapter is brimming with the urgency of reconciling political ideals with the realities of musical protest. Essential reading on Brazilian popular culture since 2010."~K. E. Goldschmitt, author of Bossa Mundo: Brazilian Music in Transnational Media Industries
"Critical Brass is a timely and highly engaging story of how neofanfarrisomo, an innovative and alternative street carnival brass band community, gave rise to an activist musical movement in Rio de Janeiro at a time of severe political crisis in Brazil. The book convincingly theorizes Carnival and the carnivalesque as enactments of political critique and action."
"In the shadows of the sambódromo, the massive stadium that effectively turned Rio's carnival into a spectator sport, an insurgent, participatory street carnival has reemerged in the last two decades. A new generation of brass bands with eclectic repertoires, including Brazilian genres such as samba, marcha, and frevo, as well as Afro-Beat, Balkan Brass, and New Orleans Second Line, has forged an activist musical movement, known as neofanfarrismo, that has also participated in a range of street protests against government corruption, police violence, and the rise of right-wing populism. Andrew Snyder's Critical Brass is the first book to consider the history of neofanfarrismo, its relation to carnival tradition, its dialogue with international music, and its ambiguous position as a largely middle-class movement with alternative, countercultural sensibilities. As a brass band musician, Snyder provides a unique perspective as a participant-observer, drenched in the 'rain, sweat, and beer' of carnival, who is acutely sensitive to the complex politics of the movement and its communitarian potential."~Christopher Dunn, author of Contracultura: Alternative Arts and Social Transformation in Authoritarian Brazil