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Often denigrated by folklorists and other specialists of Brazilian music, coco, which comes from the fertile and verdant Northeast region, embodies, nonetheless, one of its most interesting primitive genealogical aspects. Several heterogeneous influences can be sensed in the music: the repetitive African rhythm, inherited from the first Angolan and Congolese slaves who arrived in Brazil; the versification, which is Portuguese; and the rich iconography evoked by the lyrics, with references to the native flora and fauna, and which attests to the native and Amerindian influences. Dona Selma, the best-known coco performer, from the working-class neighbourhood of Olinda, comes from a family of performers and had been practicing coco for over thirty years at the time of this recording (1996). Her children accompany her on the album’s various tracks.
This collective musical performance is organised around a “leader”, who selects a repertoire of traditional verses or personal compositions. A random group of participants, the coquistas, moves around the performer, responding to him/her in chorus, and accompanied by elementary percussion. The duration varies depending on the energy of the revellers. Dona Selma is regarded as one of the most tireless performers…
Original booklet available below in English, French and Portuguese.