Eine kleine (Weih)nacht(s)musik: Carols, folk tunes, sambas and Christmas pop songs for the wind-band “Nativity masses” in Madeira’

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Unlike the usual concert activity of the national bands, the unique praxis of the Madeiran community bands consists mainly of four-to- twelve hour recreational exhibitions in religious festivities by fifteen-to twenty-five musicians assigned among the few members of that musical institution, being their most relevant function the public recognition of the organizers and contributors of that feast, through a visit to their residence, prior to the Mass, to offer a brief solemn musical salute - the philharmonic’s anthem – or a private musical exhibition of “light” music to those who spent on a more generous contribution to the parish. Indeed, in other Portuguese regions, wind-band exhibitions at the religious festivities have been far long restricted to a morning parade – “arruada” – and small concerts, with all band members, before and after Mass, and the initiative to visit, door by door, the community aims at collecting monetary amounts for the musical institution.
At Christmas, in the municipality of Câmara de Lobos, that singular type of musical exhibition takes on a more a unique character: as the Nativity Masses – “missas do parto” - are held during dawn, before the working-day of the parishioners, the musical entertainment offered by the wind-band to the contributors takes place during the night, in each of the parish of the county, consecutively, in the two weeks prior to Christmas Eve.
For that specific event, initiated more than three quarters of a century ago, and entitled ever since as “missas do parto”, the community bands of Câmara de Lobos select some regional and national carols – “janeiras”, “cantar de Reis“ - and well-known Christmas songs, as well as specific marches for the parades and some “light music” of their costumary musical repertoire, among them, the folk songs of Madeira, the “bailinhos” popularized during the late eighteenth-century and twentieth century, and Brazilian sambas, which spread from the Carnival matinées organized in mid-tweentieth century by the Banda Distrital do Funchal to the few other regional bands. Gradually, and mostly in recent years, the progressive inclusion of international music and the coeval acute fostering of that musical corpus in radio and television programs, the access to other means of musical dissemination, such as Youtube and other music databases, as well as the more accessible purchase of international repertoire, among other factors, promoted a significant “musical change”, as the well-known North- American and European Christmas songs gather a growing preeminence among the repertoire exhibited on the “missas do parto”.
This presentation seeks to offer an historical overview of the activity of Camâra de Lobos’ wind-bands in “missas do parto”, aiming to discuss, through specific examples, the repertoire defined, chosen and created by members of those musical institutions, as well as the “musical traditions” and the ongoing “musical change” which stand as coeval characteristics of that cultural manifestation.
Original languageMultiple languages
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Event23ª Conferência anual do IGEB (Sociedade Internacional de Promoção e Investigação de Música para Sopros) - Wadgassen, Germany
Duration: 19 Jul 201824 Jul 2018


Conference23ª Conferência anual do IGEB (Sociedade Internacional de Promoção e Investigação de Música para Sopros)


  • Weihnachtslieder
  • Volkslieder
  • Latin America music
  • Pop songs
  • Wind band music

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