Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Surprisingly I woke up alert and early, Sunday morning. No consumption of alcohol does have merit at times. Everyone else was sleeping, soundly. I showered and read for an hour. Over coffee later Florian had told me that they had gone to Muritiba. The TV crew had just about brought in Klieg lights, and he did not like the Caboclo scene as much as Candomble. Why do they need to smoke herbs to trance, Scott? –Do you know. I didn’t…..

We both worked quietly in the computer tech center that Francisca had set up. While editing Capoeira audio tapes, Florian lost his battery charge and asked me to disconnect my phone charger near the door. See where we are going? Ninety minutes later when I went to pee, I had forgotten about his cord. When the hard drive fell off the table with all of their accumulated footage we could not resuscitate it. At this point I learned that Florian was the tender spirit or the Beta. Gunnert woke up, heard what was going down and didn’t blame me, but the implication was clear. Mr. Alpha was never culpable. Shit stinks.

I sought out Francisca. None of us knew how much of her work was on this hard drive. She was quietly meditating in the corner window of her bedroom. I am sure Gunnert had already clued her in. I profusely apologized. Florian had also accepted responsibility. She wanted to make sure that we did not feel guilty. Feeling more like an a-hole would be apt. She said we could tackle it later. Her personal work wasn’t stored there but the lab, her students work,-in a de facto way her professional work was. Yikes.

Her buddy, the cameraman hired for the Germans could take it into Salvador. I offered the info for Angelo, the computer tech who had fixed my PC. For now she said let’s move on. Everyone ate their respective café de manha’s and she made a small speech to them about the true essence and nature of field work in ethnomusicology. How important it was to document and give back, not just take from the cultures you observe. Enrich them with what you have to offer.

She chose the example of the sound engineers working on the sound system in the barraco of Caquente, improving the sound quality that they and their audiences would hear in the future. Unfortunately, Gunnert had not finished the job. It was an issue of cables, or lack of them. He was steadfast in thinking that no one was taking an active role in sound engineering. He was not going to do. They needed to be taught; to be willing to learn. Oh, the complexities of culture and intent. The dialogue ended with Francisca’s presentation of Orixa beads that she had strung to each of the students. Oxala, Iemanja and Oxum. Gunnert got Iemanja and wondered why his was different.

This was the second moment where I saw that though their intent was heartfelt they had little idea of the nature of the culture that they were documenting. Previously they had had no idea about the essential nature of Capoeira song form and lyrics. Later back at university, I assumed that hopefully they would go into greater depth. I wondered now about an earlier statement made on the first day, “We are changing careers from engineering to ethnomusicology to be able to analyze rhythms with greater depth.” What does that really suggest?

The doorbell rang. It was the TV crew. We all left together. I went to get my recipes and they were splitting up. Some were heading to Santo Amaro to meet their leader and drive to Salvador and finalize a presentation at Goethe Institute. A few others were staying behind to observe the TV crew film the Samba of some of As Senhoras da Boa Morte, reputed to be some of the best Sambistas in the region. Later that day we had discussed going to another Caboclo, for a sort of a “tea dance,” and then watching the procession through town for São Cosme e São Damião, (which would also be filmed) and possibly eating more Caruru.

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