Brazilian music comes to Kent

Kim Rodia

‘Funky classical music’ played the first Tuesday of every month

Feijoada, Caipirinhas and choro music are not just for Brazil anymore.

The first Tuesday of every month, the Ohio Choro Club brings its Roda de Choro (choro circle) to downtown Kent, providing a place for musicians to learn and play choro music, while enjoying popular Brazilian food and drinks.

Choro (pronounced SHOH-roh) is a complex popular musical form based on improvisation, and like New Orleans jazz, blues or ragtime, grew from a formalized musical structure and many worldly influences.

Eric Murray, a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology and the founder of the Ohio Choro Club, describes choro as “funky classical music.”

“It sounds kind of old; it’s kind of like either early jazz or classical music, but souped-up classical music,” Murray said. “That’s because of the rhythms and the African influence. There’s a bunch of different rhythms; anything from waltzes to much more modern samba rhythms, which are very danceable and upbeat.”

During the Roda de Choro, participants gather around a table and play choro standards, taking turns with melody and accompaniment, simultaneously learning, practicing and performing.

“We’re trying to style this as much as we can after how you would actually experience this music in Brazil,” Murray said. “A lot of the time the bars they have in Brazil are bars/restaurants, and what the musicians do – because a lot of these places are so small they don’t have stages – they’ll just sit around tables. So, we sit around a couple of tables that we put together.”

Murray said the tables provide an intimate and social atmosphere to learn the basics of choro music.

“There, they don’t use music so much, but since we’re not Brazilian and we don’t really know the music that well, the tables allow people to set their music on the table,” he said. “It is also a very social music, so sometimes you’ll sit out of the song and you can set your instrument on the table or set your drink on the table.”

It is the roda that all choro musicians claim is the true classroom, Murray said. Anyone wanting to learn more about choro music is welcome to come join the choro circle, but there is a certain protocol musicians should be aware of.

“There’s certain etiquette, it’s not just an open kind of jam,” he said. “We’re focused on choro, but it can also be samba. As far as jazz songs or something like that, we don’t want to go in that direction.”

Murray said, however, the roda is a nice, general social gathering where people who might not play music can enjoy the sounds of choro while eating, drinking and interacting with the participants.

The OCC is hosting its monthly Brazilian Music Jam from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Water Street Tavern. Murray said he hopes students will take a chance by stopping in and checking out the event.

“It’s worth trying new stuff,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to come out and check it out. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. But if you don’t check it out, then you’ll never know.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Kim Rodia at [email protected].