Music and Technology for Social Change in Northeast Brazil

Transforming Lives through Music Education and Digital Inclusion

Bachelor Thesis, 2009
41 Pages, Grade: 1+





Figures and Pictures


1.1 Country Profile

2.1 Brazilian Music
2.1.1 Carnival
2.2 The Globalization of Music

3.1 Music, Technology and Social Change
3.2 The Digital Revolution
3.3 Youth and ICT in Brazil

4.1 Transforming Peoples Lives
4.2 Orquestra Criança Cidada
4.3 Social Action for Music
4.4 Afro Reggae
4.5 Committee for Democratization and Information Technology




The author’s interest in venturing into this research is not only academic but also personal. It derives from concern for the world’s poor, which has been strengthened by volunteer work for NGOs in Asia, Africa and South America. Moreover, the author’s continuous investment in development research over the past 3 years contributed to the outcomes of this report. As observed during research trips and residences in countries with some of the highest inequality and poverty rates in the world such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Cuba and Brazil, music (alongside religion and spiritual rituals) seems to be the main remedy for everyday survival, ongoing belief and hope for the poor. Rhythms and melodies appear to be indispensable and play an important role in poor societies; sometimes they even seem to be the only reason making the hard everyday struggle worthwhile. Moreover, people in developing countries play musical instruments with an incomparable simplicity and facility, a certain innocence and purity, enabling their tunes to be special and unique. Music has the power to provide an uplifting, motivating and income-generating source for the poor and can act as a force for social change. The author’s vision provides a valuable perspective from which this article aims to explore the field of music “Made in Brazil” combined with the idea of education and digital inclusion in order to transform people’s lives, fuel social change and reduce poverty and inequality.

“The Huge Spiritual World That Music Produces In Itself Ends Up Overcoming Material Poverty.”

(José Abreu)


ABPD Associação Brasileira de Produtores de Disco (The Brazilian Association of Record Producers)

BRIC Brazil, Russia, India, China

CDI Committee for Democratization and Information Technology CIA Central Intelligence Agency

DMR Digital Music Revolution

EU European Union

FESNOJIV Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela (State Trust for the National System of Children and Youth Orhestras of Venezuela)

FDI Foreign Direct Investment

IBGE Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (The Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics)

IT Information Technology

ICT Information and Communication Technology

IFPI International Federation of the Phonographic Industry ISP Internet Service Provider

MFI Microfinance Institution

MPB Música Popular Brasileira (Brazilian music genre) MTV Music Television

NGO Non Governmental Organization

OCC Orquestra Criança Cidada (Child Citizen Orchestra) OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development P2P Peer to peer (or: people to people)

PC Personal Computer

SAFM Social Action for Music

UGC User Generated Content

UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization

WOMEX World Music Exposition


Figure 1.1: Brazil country map

Figure 1.2: Brazil poverty map

Figure 1.3: Youth wellbeing in Brazil

Figure 3.1: Music industry value chain 21st century


Picture 2.1: Traditional carnival performance in Recife

Picture 2.2: Pre-carnival - 4 weeks before official celebration in Olinda

Picture 4.1: OCC children practicing

Picture 4.2: Rehearsing 5 hours per day

Picture 4.3: TV performance: OCC at Domingão do Faustão

Picture 4.4: OCC with Brazils president Lula

Picture 5.1: Baccio with favela kids in Rio de Janeiro


Music brings people together, is spiritually uplifting and empowering. Among the 5000 languages that are spoken on planet earth, music is the only one that everyone understands.

Despite its very rich music culture, Brazil’s inequality remains one of the highest in the world and poverty levels in the Northeast are the highest in all of Latin America. This work suggests that the overall wellbeing and social development of northeastern Brazils poor population can be forged through improving investment and infrastructure of the cultural sector. Establishing a greater network of music schools and increasing access to ICT centers can fuel social change and transform poor people’s lives. The latest trends in digital technologies and their effects on the music industry value chain will be presented in order to explain the need of more widespread IT exposure for Brazil’s next generation of artists. The project’s main objectives will be to analyze the youth’s present access to IT, which can be linked to music production skills and facilities, contact to independent labels, online networks and the creation of a fan and financial support base. This paper suggests that the Brazilian government underestimates young musicians and denies that they are a potential motor of increasing chances for socio-economic development in the Northeast of Brazil. A critical aspect of this work is the supposition that the government does not sufficiently address their services to the local needs of the poor.

This paper is structured as follows: The first section introduces the reader to the major facts and figures on Brazil in order to set the scene for this articles discussion. The second section presents Brazilian music, in particular the music scene from the Northeast. Moreover the impacts that the process of globalization has on music are examined aiming to understand the present shift cultural industries are undergoing. The aim of this section is to give the reader an overview of the diversity of tunes originating from Brazil and to legitimize the suggestion that music ´Made in Brazil` should not just simply be viewed as music, but rather as a way of life, and thus be included in the government’s development agenda to an increased level. The third section introduces latest trends in technology, particularly highlighting the importance of the Internet for sustainable development. A good ICT infrastructure has proven to play a crucial role for developing and emerging countries’ development endeavors, thus this section places Brazil’s fairly unevenly distributed national ICT network and unsatisfying access to computers into spotlight. Finally , the fourth section presents four role models for successful implementations of social and digital inclusion projects by the means of music and technology from Recife, Caracas and Rio de Janeiro. These case studies highlight the impact music and technology can have on the livelihood of the poor, outlining the capability of transforming the lives of thousands of individuals, their families and their communities in developing/emerging countries.


1.1 Country Profile

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest country in the world. It shares boarder with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. The country has a population of close to 200 million and a labour force of 100 million. Hereby, agriculture takes up 20 %, industry 14 % and services 66 %. In 2003 the Workers Party came into office with Luiz Ignácio “Lula” da Silva as a president, who’s presidency will end in 2010. Lula is claimed to be a very charismatic but also controversial leader. On the one hand he follows a political economy of neo-liberal principles, maintaining doors wide open for FDI, on the other hand he surprises other world leaders with his successful Bolsa de Familia (A family-based income-support program targeting the poorest of the poor).

Under Lula and the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995 - 2003), Brazil, an emerging market, experienced an enormous economic boom and advanced to be one of the global players in international economy, today ranking number 10 among the world’s economic powers. The country is one of the BRICs, well known as being one of the world’s largest and most rapidly growing economies alongside Russia, India and China. Market capitalization has increased nine fold in the past ten years and today amounts to US $ 1.4 trillion. (Lacey - Solymar 2008, p. 1)

Yet, less than 3 % of Brazilians control two thirds of the land in Brazil. The country has the highest rural poverty rate in the whole of Latin America. As a consequence, more than “80 % of Brazilians are now concentrated in urban areas, where many live in favelas (shantytowns) with inadequate water supply, health facilities and educational opportunities”. (Holmes 2008, p.1) According to latest CIA estimates, Brazils Gini Index (which measures countries income distribution inequality on a scale from 0 - 1) is rated to be 0,567. Thus, Brazil’s inequality level remains one of the highest in the world. Moreover, the country still has 31% of its population living below poverty line. In other words, roughly 65 million people in Brazil still live under poor living conditions, which is more than the entire population of the UK. (CIA 2008, p.4) In addition, it is estimated that 20 million of Brazil’s 100 million labourers work in the informal sector, thus not relying on a secure income or health insurance. (Datamonitor 2008, p. 4) Summing up, the presented figures undoubtedly give evidence, that the need to tackle the high poverty and inequality gap in Brazil is still a top priority on the country’s development agenda.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1.1: Brazil country map.

Source: IBGE Brazil.

Brazil’s northeastern region (see figure 1.1, area marked in brown) comprises of 9 states: Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia. This study focuses on the state of Pernambuco and its capital city Recife. There is evidence, that poverty levels are the highest in the Northeast, which occupies approximately 20% of Brazil’s total territory. (Cenbio & Infoener 2007) Moreover, the World Development Report (2007) reveals that the Northeast, with a rate of 76 %, is home of the highest rural poverty not only in the country but also in all of Latin America. (p.79)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1.2: Brazil poverty map. Source: World Resources Institute.

Figure 1.2 proves that nearly 50 % of the 45 million inhabitants of Brazil’s Northeast live in poverty. This alarming number is reason enough to explore the field of region specific development approaches towards inequality reduction. This would mean, finding viable solutions to effectively reduce poverty through community empowerment tailored to the local needs, but also to the talents of the poor. In the case of Brazil, and apparently particularly in the Northeast, one of the inhabitants god given talents is music, thus the emergence of the idea of lifting poor people out of poverty through supporting this specific talent. As the paper seeks to explore the feasibility of social change for the poor through music and technology, mainly targeting the next generation in Recife, a study by Dell Aglio et al (2007, p.13) is of major importance for this work. It presents evidence that the youth in Pernambuco face the most social and financial challenges of all young people in Brazil (see figure 1.3). The study conducted by Dell Aglio comprised of 28 different indicators, including health, relationships, material goods, behavior, labour market, community and emotional/spiritual wellbeing.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1.3: Youth wellbeing in Brazil Source: Dell Aglio et al

The outcomes of Dell Aglio’s study give evidence for the need of alternative methods for the participation of Pernambuco’s youth in economic processes in order to improve their livelihoods and through that the livelihoods of their families and communities. The youth in Recife (above all youth in the favelas) grows up in the deadliest city of Brazil and one of the most dangerous cities in the world. There is an average of 35 deadly assaults per weekend, in other words approximately 1700 people per annum being killed in random robberies and other crimes in Recife metropolitan area. (LA Times 2008) In light of this fact, it is essential that poor communities explore alternatives to this frightening childhood experience for the youth of Pernambuco. The goal should be for their youth to grow up in dignity and safety, while at the same time developing skills and passions that allow them to participate in increasing the wealth creation of their communities and country. Observations made by the author in several favelas (Santo Amaro, Casa Amarela, Maracaípe and Coque) suggest that the supply side (existence of ICT and/or music education centres) in these places is not sufficiently covering the demand side (vulnerable youth, seeking for a brighter future).


“Give music space to grow and it will grow the industry, and the industry will grow the economy.”

(Ray Phiri, South African musician)

This work sets forth the discussion as to the potential of the music industry in the context of international development. The music industry is currently not of great value in economic terms to the third world. However, the scenario is changing. There are many new organizations, but also long established ones that work with the preconception that economic growth can be achieved by supporting music sectors. The Danish Center for Cultural Development is a good example of such newly established organization researching in this field and the EU also attempts to comprehend the development potential of music through participation in discussions on international music conventions and expositions (e.g. WOMEX, the World Music Expo). Moreover, MTV launched its first award show in Nigeria last year, which can be seen as a further step forward towards a greater acceptance and integration of developing worlds music markets. (Ahlowalia & Johansen 2008, p. 156)

2.1 Brazilian Music

Brazilian music is a world of its own. Most people know Samba and Bossa Nova, but these are only a fraction of what the country has to offer regarding music styles, melodies, rhythms and regional dances. Likewise to the incredible ethnic mix, which forms Brazilians society (African, Indian, European) the country’s music is influenced by incomparable diversity. In the world scene, “Brazilian music ranks among the top 20 most wanted.” (Do Vale 2008, p. 7) Yet, for some reason Brazilian music remains more famous for its genres and musical rhythms than for the money it generates. Perrone and Dunn (2001) describe this phenomena through the comparison of Brazilian music on the world market with an iceberg: “a highly visible tip - meaning a few megastars like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Carmen Miranda - and an enormous mass of music and musicians lurking beneath the surface, unknown for the most part abroad.” (p.332)

In their UNCTAD report on trends of the music industry Wallis & Kozul-Wright (2001) introduce a model (based upon the very successful music industry of Sweden) that focuses upon emphasizing the introduction and/or support of intermediaries, so-called “cultural development agencies”, that would enhance income possibilities for local artists and increase both local and global exploitation of their creative output. The authors argue that support in infrastructure can be a motor for the creative and commercial activity in poor countries. In fact the need for more infrastructure support for the cultural industry in Brazil is precisely what a number of influential authors called for in their recent works. (Do Vale 2008; Afonso 2008; Neate & Platt 2007) It seems to be worth improving the infrastructure of the cultural sector in Northeast Brazil, noting that music undoubtedly seems to flourish in this region. Music provides what is arguably the strongest and most widely recognized symbol of Northeastern regional identity. (McCann 2004)

2.1.1 Carnival

Carnival was brought to Brazil from Europe as a form of amusement at the end of the 19th century. The first celebrations were only accessible for the upper class of colonists. To that time local groups that intended to participate with their music were banned from the event. Today, these formerly banned groups of indigenous people are an essential part of carnival, which is celebrated in unity by all people, non - depending on any kind of social status. (Oliven 1984, p.110)

Carnival in Recife and especially in Olinda (one of the oldest cities in Brazil, located 5km north of Recife) is very popular throughout the entire Brazilian nation, however still (and luckily) very unknown abroad. It is claimed to be the best carnival, together with Salvador, of Brazil, due to its extreme diversity of musical styles and its originality. It is non-commercial, very colorful and infrequently visited by tourists. Moreover, everybody is invited to join the celebration, simply following the path of one of the indefinite blocos (music groups, clubs or associations, that practice all year to enthusiastically present their repertoire, wearing the same shirts, accompanied by loyal fans like a football team) through the streets. In comparison to Rio de Janeiro for example, where carnival is mostly subject to entrance fees and a separation between performers and audience, in Recife and Olinda carnival is free of charge and everybody celebrates together at all times.

By the time the author arrived in Recife (26th January 2009) celebrations had already started. The official Carnival lasts 4 days, starting at the end of February. However, the unofficial carnival lasts more than 4 weeks and starts at the end of January and runs until March. Carnival in Recife features the biggest bloco in the world, the Galo da Madrugada, attracting more than one million people to downtown Recife. One encounters celebrations on the streets, but also stages being mounted throughout the entire city, so music enthusiasts not only get to know music genres they have never heard of, they also get to know many neighbourhoods of Recife they would never have visited. This also includes poorer neighborhoods, which are being promoted by the Prefeitura do Recife (Recife’s Government Authorities) in order to upgrade their reputation.

International megastars play a fusion of Electro, Rock, Rap, Reggae and Metal next to national heroes that perform Tropicália, MPB, Bossa Nova, Samba and Choro alongside local newcomers and already established local bands like Naçao Zumbi, Mundo Livre, Fogo do Cordel Encantado, Eddie or Alceu Valença mixing traditional northeastern rhythms with modern music genres. Local music includes Forró, which is by far the most popular music style, the innovative Mangue, the vibrant Maracatú (large African style drum ensembles with dancers, deriving from ceremonies held for the kings of the Congo) the happy Frevo (fast paced, jaunty carnival music), Brega and the rural Coco, Ciranda, Caboclinho, Xote and Cavalo Marinho. A performance of Manu Chao, that the author viewed, was scheduled at midnight on a football field in Nova Cobertura, one of the poorer neighbourhoods of Recife. Only the day after the concert the author was informed, that during the night previous to Manu Chao’s show several young people had been gunned down on the exact same football field during carnival celebrations. Despite some unpleasant observations of violence and crime, one can conclude that carnival in Pernambuco proved the outstanding talent and uniqueness in style of Recife’s local artists and suggest that the event is one of the most joyful, colourful and diverse parties in the world.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Picture 2.1: Traditional carnival performance in Recife. !The Author

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Picture 2.2: Pre-carnival - 4 weeks before official celebration in Olinda. !The Author

2.2 The Globalization of Music

“Whatever problems the music industry may face at this time, music itself is in fact more popular, more divers and is being listened to by more people than ever.”

(Gordon 2005, p. 84)

The increase in international transactions and trade has benefited people involved in the cultural industries. The music business is flourishing since the beginning of its existence: between 1450 and 1500, around 10.000 – 15.000 songs were published worldwide. By 1962, 250.000 songs each year were being published in the world, and the figures are skyrocketing ever since. Further, a research made towards the end of the 20th century gives evidence that between 1980 and 1998 exports of musical products (both equipment and song material) ascended an average of 10.3 % per year. Surprisingly, the US is not as dominant on the world music market as most people think: 1998, local producers had 96 % of the market share in India, 78 % in Japan, 68 % in Russia and 73 % in Brazil. US chart music is undoubtedly popular across the globe and available everywhere, however, as these figures show, it is not at all dominant in other countries. “Globalizing eras tend to be good for the arts, whether we consider the menu of choice or regional distinctiveness. No great culture has arisen in isolation; all owe their existence to the international economy” (Caplan & Cowen 2004, p.405)

The international economy is a motor for new inventions. New technologies appear on the world markets faster than one has the time and the possibility to purchase them. Information is free and easy to access today. To record a song in mp3 format with a decent sound quality one does no longer need a highly sophisticated record studio. Artists all around the world can take part more easily in the competition of song writing and recording. Hesmondhalgh (2007) argues, that the boom in information technology and consumer electronics changed the industry, the sound, the habits and the possibilities of artists worldwide. Globalization, and the success of icons and superstars evolving from their country, is likely to inspire more Brazilian artists to get involved, and thus will enrich the music scene and the market offer of new and fresh song material as a whole. The Internet plays and important role for artists from the developing world, opening doors to market channels, promoters and new music tools and techniques. “The industrialized world no longer has a knowledge monopoly because knowledge moves freely”. (Ridderstrale & Nordstrom 2008, p.20) However, the access to this knowledge (through computers) differs from country to country and will be discussed in more depth in section three.

In order to market their talents in a world changed by globalization, artists need to tour more, be omnipresent, be more productive, active, and keep the fans updated with news. The need for increased global presence is due to increased customer choice. If artists do not keep in close touch with their fans they will disappear rapidly from the scene. Furthermore, there is evidence that demonstrates live music having a more widely reaching effect on a group’s fan base. The US and many countries in Europe (mainly Holland, Sweden, Germany, France and Denmark) offer a large platform for gigs and festivals. Kusek & Leonhard (2005, p.7) point out that “concert business is soaring, rising four years straight from US $ 1.3 billion in 1998 to US $ 2.1 billion in 2003”. Industries and entrepreneurs, musicians and artists in developing countries that are involved in culture and tradition, music, dance, theatre and art are experiencing an incredible boom. The features of a streamlined media world and shifting consumer characteristics have the potential to support the worldwide success of unique and exotic cultures such as the Brazilian one. Experienced cultural consequences of globalization in Brazil are a blend of complex reinterpretations of different music styles (Jazz, Blues, Funk, Rap, Rock) that enable a continuous redefinition and reinvention of the music market, thus contributing to the maintenance of an exciting and vibrating global music scene. However, Gordon (2005, p.90) also reminds of the fact that income from recorded music has declined approx. 20% throughout the world in the last several years. Many blame the bad economy and competition with other diversions, such as video games, the ending of the CD boom and finally the diminishing quality of music.


3.1 Music, Technology and Social Change

The rational behind the idea of writing on the topic of music and technology for social change is simple: there is no force greater than the internet for any ascending or established musician in the world that wants to spread his/her sound around the globe, create or maintain a fan base, sell his/her music and thus generating an income. The focus of this article is on youth growing up in slums, thus starting with nothing. The first step for these children should be a focus on music education, in addition to their other studies, keeping an eye on the development of their particular talents. However, the second step is confronting them with technology, computers, the Internet, the digital world in order to prepare them for the 21st century and its reality. If those children that make it through the entry exam of music centers, proving they are musically and rhythmically talented, are educated in basic terms (regular school), music (learning how to play an instrument) and IT (building PC and Internet skills), then this creates a solid base for the children’s future perspectives to survive and generate a decent income within a world of growing competition.

In the following paragraphs the reader will be introduced to the paradigm shift the world is undergoing at present, technology being the powerful and driving force behind a revolution that is changing the human beings environment, behaviour and way of communicating. First, the digital revolution as such will be examined and subsequently the access to computers and the Internet in Brazil is evaluated. According to Dicken (2007, p.87) “the Internet – for those who have access to it – has changed the world” and ISOC (2008) highlights that by the year 2010 80 % of the planet will be on the Internet. ICT will play a central role for sustainable development in the future. The beginning of the Internet can be traced back to 1970. It was the US Department of Defense that developed what later became the World Wide Web to link their computer networks. (Dicken 2007, p.89) However, as Parker (2003) stresses, ICT does not merely correspond to the Internet, but to a process of convergence between telecommunications, broadcasting and computer industries, expected to become one unity, driven by technology and consumer demand. Knowledge flows freely on the internet as Ridderstrale & Nordstrom (2008) stated above and development perspectives improve rapidly with connectivity it seems: Casanova (2004) points out that “just as individuals have better opportunities in the labour market when they are better qualified and just as enterprises achieve higher productivity when they are able to use knowledge effectively, so local regions and societies have greater possibilities the more knowledge they have. The availability and quality of human resources are key factors for development.” (p.135)


Excerpt out of 41 pages


Music and Technology for Social Change in Northeast Brazil
Transforming Lives through Music Education and Digital Inclusion
University of East London
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Published 2020, original text from 2009
Development, Music, Brazil, El Sistema, Orquestra criança cidada, Afro Reggae, Community, Microfunding, Poverty Reduction, Sustainable Development, Empowerment, Capacity building
Quote paper
Philipp Bernhardt (Author), 2009, Music and Technology for Social Change in Northeast Brazil, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Music and Technology for Social Change in Northeast Brazil

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free