Critical Brass: Street Carnival and Musical Activism in Olympic Rio de Janeiro
Wesleyan University Press 2022
(Companion website materials below description)
Critical Brass tells the story of neofanfarrismo, an explosive carnival brass band community turned activist musical movement in Rio de Janeiro. The book is set against the backdrop of Brazil’s shift from a country on the rise in the 2000s to one beset by an array of crises in the 2010s: corruption scandals, economic recession, controversial mega-sporting events, the fall of the left, and the rise of the authoritarian right. Neofanfarristas have creatively adapted the egalitarian and revolutionary theories of carnival to militate for a more democratic and inclusive city, mobilizing crowds into the tens of thousands. Understanding carnival theories as performative inspirations to action rather than mere interpretative frameworks, Andrew Snyder follows the movement’s manifestations as the bands play diverse repertoires in a wide range of scenarios, from carnival to protests, participatory music classes, club stages, and international tours.
Unlike Rio’s iconic samba schools, neofanfarrismo is a predominantly middle-class phenomena. Snyder shows how neofanfarrismo’s transformative aspirations are constrained by the particular class, racial, and gendered socialities of the movement. He considers newer brass projects in neofanfarrismo led by female and Black musicians to examine the movement’s process of diversification, a priority that has been at the heart of its leftist politics. Illuminating the tangible obstacles to musical movement building, he argues that such festive activism with privileged origins can promote real alternatives to the neoliberal city, but meets many limits and contradictions in a society marked by diverse inequalities.
Companion website materials
Introduction: An Alternative Movement in an Olympic City
Chapter 1. Revival: The Death and Life of Street Carnival
Chapter 2. Experimentation: “To Play Anything”
Chapter 3. Inclusion: “Whose Rio?”
Chapter 4. Resistance: “Nothing Should Seem Impossible to Change”
Chapter 5. Diversification: Neofanfarrismo of the Excluded
Chapter 6. Consolidation: The HONK RiO! Festival of Activist Brass Bands
Conclusion. "Carnival Strike”
A history of neofanfarrismo as told by Juliano Pires
Other media and materials