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Finding Aids to Individual Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture


AFC 1943/001

Compiled by Michelle Forner and Stephanie A. Hall
Library of Congress
American Folklife Center
March 1995


The Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo Collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, film, and manuscript material documenting music, dance, and ritual in northeast Brazil. It is the result of an early 1940s exchange project between the Music Division of the Library of Congress and the Discoteca Publica Municipal in São Paulo, Brazil. The materials were gathered during fieldwork conducted in the states of Maranhão, Pará, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and São Paulo between 1937 and 1938.

Access and Reproduction: Listening and viewing access to the collection is unrestricted. Duplication of the recorded materials may be governed by copyright and other restrictions. Any duplication for publication purposes requires the prior written permission of the performers.

Key Subjects: Babassué; Barca; Batucada; Batuque; Berceuse; Brazilian dance and music; Brinquedo da Barca; Bumba-Meu-Boi; Bumba-Meu-Cabaçal; Caboclinhos; Carregadores de pedra; Cateretê; Catimbo; Cheganca de marujos; Côco; Congada; costumes; Cururú; Chorinho (Chôro); Chula; dance-dramas; Desafio; Embolada; Feitiçaria Afro-Brasileira; folk dance and music; Frêvo; Jongo; Lundú; Macumba; Maracatú; material culture; Maxixe; Moda-de-Viola; Modinha; musical instruments; Ponto; Quadrilha; Recortado; Reis de Congo; ritual; Samba; Schottisch; social life and customs; Tambo-de-Mina; Toada; Toré; trance dancing; Valsa; Tirana; Xango.

Languages: Portuguese; Native-Brazilian languages; Afro-Brazilian languages

Physical Description Location Numbers
Print Materials
1 Box  
Sound Recordings
199 12" and 10" discs AFS 7399-7597;
LWO-5111 R35-52
16 12" and 10" discs AFS 9813-9828;
LWO-5111 R261-262
8 7" DT mono reels at 7.5 ips Listening copies
Graphic Materials
359 2 3/4" x 2 3/4" b&w photoprints  
359 2 3/4" x 2 3/4" b&w photoprints  
Moving Image
1 reel, 1445 ft., si., b/w, 16mm REF PRINT Motion Picture FCA 8123
2 reels, 1445 ft., si., b/w, 16mm DUPE NEG Motion Picture FRA 6479-6480
1 reel, 1445 ft., si., b/w, 16mm ARCH POS. Motion Picture FRA 6338
1 videocassette 1/2" VHS si., b/w 1 videocassette 1/2" VHS si., b/w


The Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo Collection consists of sound recordings, film, photographs, and some manuscript material documenting the music and dance of primarily Afro-Brazilians in northeast Brazil in the late 1930s. Accessioned in 1943 and 1950, it is the product of a four-year correspondence between Oneyda Alvarenga, Director of the Discoteca, and Harold Spivacke, then Chief of the Music Division at the Library of Congress, that resulted in an exchange of folklore materials. It represents one of the first ethnographic compilations of music, dance, and ritual from this area, presenting a view of the cultural life in those states before the modernizing influences that followed World War II and the growth of tourism. The collection also provides an example of the way fieldwork in Brazil was conducted at the time and includes visual documentation of a fieldworker making sound recordings.

The music and dance in the collection includes work songs, songs without dance, dance dramas, ritual ceremonies, solo dances, group dances, songs for children's games, instrumentals, and songs and dances performed at Carnaval. They reflect the diversity of cultural influences in the region: European (Portuguese), Afro-Brazilian, and native Indians. For example, the bumba meu boi dance drama portrays the misfortunes of a prize bull that a cattle rancher has obtained to improve his herd. It is of Portuguese origin with added Brazilian elements. The caboclinho is a Carnaval group of Afro-Brazilians that parade dressed as Amerindians, performing imitative dances to music provided by Afro-Brazilian instruments.

The materials span the years 1938 to 1943, with the largest portion documented in 1938. The collection is divided into four series by format: manuscripts, sound recordings, graphic materials, and moving images. These materials offer access to the events by providing visual and oral documentation.

An inventory provided by the Discoteca (in Portuguese) provides information about the audio recordings and accompanying photographs. A concordance in Appendix A links the audio recordings, photographs, and films for identified events. Besides documenting the events, the photoprints include images of artifacts, including musical instruments and dance costumes, photographed after they were taken to the Discoteca. Books and notes published by the Discoteca and cataloged by the Library of Congress may provide further insight into the holdings.



Folder 1
Archive of Folk Culture administrative materials. The collection guide [this document], accession log, and copy of the project authorization. Publicity and administration
Folder 2
Correspondence. Arranged chronologically (November 1941 to September 1943). Consists of original correspondence primarily between Harold Spivacke, Chief, Division of Music, Library of Congress, and Oneyda Alvarenga, Chief, Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo, Brazil (correspondence from Alvarenga in Portuguese and translated upon receipt into English). The content mainly concerns the transfer of materials between the two entities and budgetary matters. Also includes internal Library memoranda and correspondence between the Library and other federal agencies concerning the allotment of monies for the project and transportation of materials.
Folder 3
Discoteca's lists and descriptions. Originals and copies of material provided by the Discoteca (in Portuguese). Includes a list of audio recordings by genre, a six-page description of dance and song types, and a list of "titles" identifying the fourteen silent films.
Folder 4-5
Audio recordings inventory. Copies of the original, typed "cards" provided by the Discoteca (in Portuguese) for discs 1-199 (AFS 7399-7597). Information includes date and location of recording, song titles, informants, instruments, photographic concordance, and additional notes.
Folder 6-7
Disc sleeves. Photocopies of portions of original disc sleeves that contained numbering information. AFS 7399-7556, 7560.
Box 1 (loose)
Audio recordings inventory. Original versions of cards contained in
Folders 4-5.


AFS 7399-AFS 7597
189 12" and 10 16" discs of music recorded in the states of Maranhão,
Pará, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and São Paulo. See Folders 4-5 for inventory and content notes. Listening copies are available in the Folklife Reading Room
AFS 9813-AFS 9828
3 10" and 13 12" discs of music acquired in 1950 from the Discoteca.
There are no locatable inventories or notes describing the contents. See "Annotated Bibliography of Related Publications" for possible sources of information. Listening copies are available in the Folklife Reading Room


Location Contents
Photograph prints
Albums 1-2 359 black and white photoprints (2 3/4" x 2 3/4") documenting the fieldwork and audio recordings, arranged numerically and roughly grouped geographically. Copies of original envelopes that contained the photographs precede each "set," and provide identifying information (in Portuguese). For more information, see audio recordings inventory and Appendix A, "Dance Concordance."
Albums 2-3 259 black and white photoprints (3 1/2" x 4 3/4") of museum pieces housed in the Discoteca. Includes images of musical instruments and dance costumes. At the time of accessioning, no list or description was provided. For more information, see "Annotated Bibliography of Related Publications."


FCA 8123
1 reel, 16 mm, 1445 ft., silent, black and white reference print compilation of the 14 original 16 mm reels. Documents the music, dance, and ritual found on audio recordings and in photographs. Housed in the Motion Picture Division. A list of the contents of each original reel can be found in Folder 3. See also Appendix A, "Dance Concordance." FRA 6479-6480 (duplicate negatives); FRA 6338 (archival positive).



Alvarenga, Oneyda, ed. Catálago Ilustrado do Museu Folclórico, Vol 2. São Paulo, Brazil: Discoteca Publica Municipal, 1950. F2503.5.S3

The Discoteca's museum catalog, comprised of 235 photographs of artifacts and corresponding descriptive notes. The photographs of artifacts in the collection are primarily reproductions of those in the catalog. In addition, the introduction to the volume may provide background on the fieldwork when the collection was gathered.

Alvarenga, Oneyda, ed. Melodias Registradas por Meios Não-Mecânicos. São Paulo, Brazil: Discoteca Publica Municipal, 1946. M1689.S3M4

The companion volume to the museum holdings that catalogs the Discoteca's recorded music collection. It features a list of titles, extensive notes, and some sheet music.

Published Notes:

The following is a series of notes the Discoteca published on their music archive, divided into a rough typology of music and dance. These works may provide more information on the recordings accessioned in 1950:

Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo. Babassue: discos FM 39 a FM 51. São Paulo: Discoteca Publica, 1950. ML156.4.F6S4

Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo. Catimbo: discos FM 28-B a FM 38. São Paulo: Discoteca Publica, 1949. ML156.4F6S43

Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo. Cheganca de Marujos: discos FM 72 e 73, 82-B a 86, 97 a 104. São Paulo: Discoteca Publica, 1955. ML156.4.F6S433

Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo. Tambor-de-Mina e Tambor-de-Crioulo: discos FM 15 a 28-A. São Paulo: Discoteca Publica, 1948. ML156.4F6S45

Discoteca Publica Municipal de São Paulo. Xango: discos FM 1 a 14. São Paulo: Discoteca Publica, 1949. ML156.4.F6S47




The following is a list of dance types and the corresponding photographs, film footage, and audio recordings that document them. The titles were derived from the descriptions identifying the photographs and films. This concordance is intended as a guideline and is not exhaustive. For more information, see the film inventory in Folder 3 and the recording inventory (which includes photographs) in Folders 4-5.



Film number(s)
Audio recording number(s)
Babussué (Feitiçaria)
Belem (Pará)
AFS 7557-7563;

AFS 7570;

AFS 7572-7576

Brinquedo da Barca
Torrelandia (Paraíba)
AFS 7473-7479
Patos (Paraíba)
AFS 7504-7505;

AFS 7507-7508

Belem (Pará)
AFS 7535-7552

AFS 7557

Itabaiana (Paraíba)
AFS 7437
Caboclinhos Indios Africanos
Torrelandia (Paraíba)
Caboclinhos Indios Tupí-Guarani do Rogi
Torrelandia (Paraíba)
AFS 7472
Catimbó (Feitiçaria)
João Pessôa (Paraíba)
AFS 7467-7470
Baia da Traição (Paraíba)
AFS 7462-7466
Côco de Róda
Itabaiana (Paraíba)
AFS 7433-7436;

AFS 7438-7440

Reis de Congo
Pombal (Paraíba)
AFS 7586
Tambô de criôlo
São Luis (Maranhão)
Tambô de mina (Feitiçaria)
São Luis (Maranhão)
AFS 7480-7492
São Francisco (Paraíba)
AFS 7461



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