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The golden age of Brazilian Music (Techniques, Studios, Engineers, Equipment)
Old 9th January 2016
  #1
Gear Nut
 

The golden age of Brazilian Music (Techniques, Studios, Engineers, Equipment)

I've been browsing the web out of curiosity, and had been sort of disappointed by the lack of information in english on what and who was behind the magic sound of those timeless brazilian records that we all love.

I'm not talking about the big names that later recorded their albums in the US (Getz/Gilberto in NY, Jobim or Sergio Mendes in Los Angeles and so on). But think of Jorge Ben, Marcos Valle, Gal Costa, Nara Leao, Edu Lobo, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes etc, during those golden years.

Those artists were all signed on a very limited pool of record labels that used to record in three major studios : Rio Som in Rio de Janeiro (Philips, Elenco) Scatena in São Paulo (RGE, Philips) and maybe the most renowned, Odeon Estudios in Rio (Odeon-Emi) which I assume had the same kind of equipment as Abbey Road and other EMI studios all over the world - recording gear was pretty much harmonized regardless of the country (Paul Mccartney even recorded on familiar, although a bit dated, equipment in Lagos for the first Wings record).

It is a thread to discuss musicians and engineers, sound and techniques and whatever information or observation you may have.

Now some sonic exemples of that magic:


(That UNREAL reverb on the voice)



Old 9th January 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
I've been browsing the web out of curiosity, and had been sort of disappointed by the lack of information in english on what and who was behind the magic sound of those timeless brazilian records that we all love.

I'm not talking about the big names that later recorded their albums in the US (Getz/Gilberto in NY, Jobim or Sergio Mendes in Los Angeles and so on). But think of Jorge Ben, Marcos Valle, Gal Costa, Nara Leao, Edu Lobo, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes etc, during those golden years.

Those artists were all signed on a very limited pool of record labels that used to record in three major studios : Rio Som in Rio de Janeiro (Philips, Elenco) Scatena in São Paulo (RGE, Philips) and maybe the most renowned, Odeon Estudios in Rio (Odeon-Emi) which I assume had the same kind of equipment as Abbey Road and other EMI studios all over the world - recording gear was pretty much harmonized regardless of the country (Paul Mccartney even recorded on familiar, although a bit dated, equipment in Lagos for the first Wings record).

It is a thread to discuss musicians and engineers, sound and techniques and whatever information or observation you may have.

Now some sonic exemples of that magic:


(That UNREAL reverb on the voice)



Sorry, I know nothing about this all but I did listen to some of the links and this really is some great music with a very appealing sound!
Old 9th January 2016
  #3
Gear Nut
 
lucasanything's Avatar
So glad you posted this! I've been on the trail for this same information myself.

All I really know is that mid-century Brazil was a highly modern country, in particular in the south (Rio, Sao Paulo) where the major studios were. There is little reason to think studios wouldn't have access to the same technologies being used in European and N American studios.

I.e. Condensers Neumann, AKG, and Sony.. RCA ribbons.. custom tube desks.. multi-track tape.. studio echo chambers, EMT plates.. and limiters & simple EQs for minimal processing.
Old 9th January 2016
  #4
Gear Nut
 
lucasanything's Avatar
Here are a few instances of Brazilian artists using various microphones:

Elis Regina & Jobim singing into an AKG C24:


Jorge Ben in front of a Neumann U67:


Gilberto Gil singing into an unknown mic. Anyone know this one?


If anyone has any more, please share!
Old 9th January 2016
  #5
Gear Nut
 

Glad to know there is people around interested in knowing more about that part of musical history or just enjoying the sound!
Maybe there's a brazilian veteran engineer lurking on Gearslutz that would join.

Here's a picture of Sergio Mendes (must be early 70's) with Odeon top engineer Nivaldo Duarte at the desk, who cut pretty much every masterpieces on the label (Clube Da Esquina, Joyce & Nelson Angelo, Marcos Valle's early 70's albums etc...)


The console looks like the mythical EMI TG12345


There is some pictures of the Odeon Estudios in the gatefold of Edu Lobo's Missa Breve. Will scan it soon.


There is also an invaluable article on Nivaldo Duarte in portuguese. As usual with google translate it doesn't make much sense, but it's a fascinating albeit frustrating read.

Museu da Pessoa
Old 9th January 2016
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasanything View Post
& simple EQs for minimal processing.
I think that is the key for most of the music that came from Brasil in that era.
The performances are of course downright stellar, but the care and detail that must have been put on microphone placement, room and reverb settings were crucial. Apart from the more psych-rock numbers here & there, it often sounds like a perfectly natural, untouched acoustic environment, like you're there in the studio, but with a divine sense of hearing everything perfectly balanced.

The best exemple for that (and that translates even in sh**ty youtube links) is that song by Tom Zé.



I mean, my god, what sounds that good even today with all the technology that we have?
Old 10th January 2016
  #7
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Herr Weiss's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
Maybe there's a brazilian veteran engineer lurking on Gearslutz that would join.
We have a moderator from Brazil, the name escapes me at the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
There is also an invaluable article on Nivaldo Duarte in portuguese. As usual with google translate it doesn't make much sense, but it's a fascinating albeit frustrating read.

Museu da Pessoa
I understand the language, can give you a condensed version in English, if you so desire.
Old 10th January 2016
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
We have a moderator from Brazil, the name escapes me at the moment.



I understand the language, can give you a condensed version in English, if you so desire.
That will be greatly appreciated, especially on the technical parts. At one point he talks about being the first one in Brazil to discover reverb chambers by putting an amp & microphone in the bathroom(?), or so I understood.
Old 10th January 2016
  #9
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Herr Weiss's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
That will be greatly appreciated, especially on the technical parts. At one point he talks about being the first one in Brazil to discover reverb chambers by putting an amp & microphone in the bathroom(?), or so I understood.
I read that part!!

Tell you what, let me do a careful reading, so no mistakes are made.
Tomorrow at this time, you'll have it.
(with all the important infos)


~HW
Old 10th January 2016
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Thank you!
Old 11th January 2016
  #11
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Herr Weiss's Avatar
 

O.K, I read the small novel.

Nivaldo Duarte de Lima should've been a fisherman like his dad, but his fascination with the sounds coming from his mom's radio, nurtured him to find a job in the biz. By the early fifties, without any experience, he found himself pressing play, at the best acoustic sounding, alas poorly equipped studio, at Continental Records.

Everything was recorded dry, no reverbs.

His boss, Norival Reis, was the one who recorded some hand-claps in a cavernous bathroom; the first usage of echo in a Brazilian record. Mr.Reis was idolized for achieving a great sound with meager electronics. It seems that magnetic wire recorder was still in use at the time?!?

They were all impressed by American recordings with all the bells and whistles.



He recalls that they would record the orchestra and singer separately. Mix them up and if necessary, re-record the whole thing again.

With no specific dates he mentions one-channel Ampex, and splicing tape to fix mistakes.

He advises to a minimal use of Equalizers.
For him, it's a fixing tool and not to be played around with; changing frequencies aimlessly.

Lastly, microphone placement, is of the utmost importance.


Sorry, not much else.


~HW

Last edited by Herr Weiss; 11th January 2016 at 02:39 AM..
Old 13th January 2016
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Haha, thanks a bunch!
It reads a bit like a brazilian Geoff Emerick biography.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
He advises to a minimal use of Equalizers.
For him, it's a fixing tool and not to be played around with; changing frequencies aimlessly.

Lastly, microphone placement, is of the utmost importance.


Et Voilà!
I knew instinctively that that was part of the secret.
The lesson would be to EQ only with moving the microphones around.
Old 13th January 2016
  #13
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Deltones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
The lesson would be to EQ only with moving the microphones around.
Yeah, good advice when the whole band is playing together but in this age of everything being tracked individually, how do you assume that the EQ you got moving the microphone is right when there is no real context behind it?

Nice thread. The clips showcased are great.
Old 14th January 2016
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltones View Post
Yeah, good advice when the whole band is playing together but in this age of everything being tracked individually, how do you assume that the EQ you got moving the microphone is right when there is no real context behind it?

Nice thread. The clips showcased are great.
Sorry, I meant in the context of everyone playing in the same room at the same time. I mean, there is no way you can get that vibe with individual tracking, although it could requires skills I don't possess.
Also, studios were not all dead sounding back then, you could instantly balance a mix on the sole acoustic properties of the room.
Old 15th January 2016
  #15
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Deltones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
Also, studios were not all dead sounding back then, you could instantly balance a mix on the sole acoustic properties of the room.
Which is why I love to hear stuff like what was posted: You can hear the room. I never understood the motivation to isolate everything from anything guilty of having a real physical space (Ex: Stuffing a singer in a an upright coffin instead of using the room). I mean, I know why it's done, but a room is added character to a performance, not a detriment. At least, that's how I see it.
Old 15th January 2016
  #16
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Deltones's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasanything View Post
All I really know is that mid-century Brazil was a highly modern country, in particular in the south (Rio, Sao Paulo) where the major studios were.
I believe Turkey was this way as well. There is some stuff I discovered from the mid 60's that just blew my mind. Some of their psychedelic stuff was amazing.
Old 16th January 2016
  #17
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Herr Weiss's Avatar
 

@ Phil Inspector :

If anybody can help you, I believe @ diogo_c is the one.
He's a Historian.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/members41028-diogo_c/


~HW
Old 16th January 2016
  #18
Thanks for the heads up @ Herr Weiss .

Phil is on the right trail. All those artists mentioned were big money back in the day, some still living and active, some unfortunately derailed and/or gone.

Adding some background to what Lucas said: Brazil was mostly a rural country, the transition to the urban centers was ramping up in the 50s. Then the country went through 20 years under the rule of a US-backed military junta between 1964-1984 and they greatly favored some local media outlets in detriment of others and they also did their best efforts to align the country with american culture to counter the "communist thread", something which was done since the WW2 period but that got pushed to a new and higher level under the junta. This process inevitably lead to power concentration in the hands of a few local outlets and the circumstances were made favorable for the american labels to run their businesses here, so in that regard some lucky (and mostly very wealthy) people got to work on top-shelf gear and as Phil said some pieces were pretty much standards on serious money-making/label-funded studios, like the EMI consoles and Neumann microphones and so on. Studios used to be big and as Phil said they were not dead, I've seen a lot of pictures and footage with distant mics being used - you can definitely hear lots of big room sound on some of the records. Not sure if people recorded chambers or used plates, trying to find some info on that myself but from some of the sounds it seems that EMTs were likely available.

Thing about the music from that era is that it was very powerful in terms of the messages and stories and the lyrics can lose a lot of sense if you're not fully aware of its context. I'm not a huge fan of Brazilian music myself (blame metal for this) but the wife loves it so I got that from her and I'm helping out a couple of artists who are greatly influenced by that period, so I'm doing my own share of research on that.

Funny gearslut bit that I'd add is about João Gilberto's relationship with the AKG 414. Not any 414, a very specific one which I don't recall but likely one of the first models. There's even a funny story that took place in LA in 2003, where he got quite upset on a gig that didn't had his particular 414 model of choice. Brazilian press reported some years ago that AKG would make a 414 "JG" that would be tailored to his needs but I couldn't find anything else on the subject.

BTW, I live in the town where Clube da Esquina was born! Esquina translates to street corner, I'll try to take a pic there someday. It's located on Santa Tereza, same neighborhood where the Cavalera brothers formed Sepultura in the early 80s. Paulo Jr. (Sepultura's bass player) still hangs around there and the Clube da Esquina guys can also be spotted from time to time, most are still alive and kicking.

Awesome threads guys, I'll post more stories anytime.
Old 16th January 2016
  #19
"Prato Cheio", from Toninho Horta's homonymous album - featuring Pat Metheny. Published by EMI-Odeon Records.

Legend says that Metheny was totally blown away by Toninho's playing and felt in love with Brazilian music because of how Toninho picked chords. Metheny was dating Brazilian actress Sonia Braga back in the day.



Line-up:

Toninho Horta – Acoustic Guitar/Vocals
Jose Roberto Bertrami - Keyboards
Jamil Joanes - Bass
Robertinho Silva – Drums and Percussion
Pat Metheny - Guitar

Toninho still lives in Belo Horizonte and fortunately I got to see him playing very often on many different setups, mostly with a trio playing fusion-esque Jazz. Amazing player. Unfortunately his career was a bit derailed by excessive drinking...in the 80s everybody thought he would be as famous as Metheny is, but he didn't showed a lot of interest in making it to the international stage and stayed in Belo Horizonte for the most part.
Old 16th January 2016
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Inspector View Post
I've been browsing the web out of curiosity, and had been sort of disappointed by the lack of information in english on what and who was behind the magic sound of those timeless brazilian records that we all love.

I'm not talking about the big names that later recorded their albums in the US (Getz/Gilberto in NY, Jobim or Sergio Mendes in Los Angeles and so on). But think of Jorge Ben, Marcos Valle, Gal Costa, Nara Leao, Edu Lobo, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes etc, during those golden years.

Those artists were all signed on a very limited pool of record labels that used to record in three major studios : Rio Som in Rio de Janeiro (Philips, Elenco) Scatena in São Paulo (RGE, Philips) and maybe the most renowned, Odeon Estudios in Rio (Odeon-Emi) which I assume had the same kind of equipment as Abbey Road and other EMI studios all over the world - recording gear was pretty much harmonized regardless of the country (Paul Mccartney even recorded on familiar, although a bit dated, equipment in Lagos for the first Wings record).

It is a thread to discuss musicians and engineers, sound and techniques and whatever information or observation you may have.

Now some sonic exemples of that magic:


(That UNREAL reverb on the voice)



Great thread!!!
One of my favorites:
Old 3 weeks ago
  #21
I've got to bump this old thread and say thanks for turning me onto some stuff I hadn't heard. I stumbled on this thread after looking for info on Marcos Valle's "Samba Demais" album. Such an amazing vocal sound.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
I've got to bump this old thread and say thanks for turning me onto some stuff I hadn't heard...
You might enjoy these. Done fairly recently.



Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
You might enjoy these. Done fairly recently.



These are fantastic! They sound amazing. I would love to do something like this.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SydBeretta View Post
These are fantastic! They sound amazing. I would love to do something like this.
Done at the now Berklee-owned Power Station in NYC. If you look real close you'll notice that Airto is actually elsewhere. I have to confess that I only got the gig because my room looked a lot like Power Station.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Done at the now Berklee-owned Power Station in NYC. If you look real close you'll notice that Airto is actually elsewhere. I have to confess that I only got the gig because my room looked a lot like Power Station.
Nothing wrong with a good serendipitous gig. Great job all around.
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