The Snake

March 3, 2009 9:06 PM

Amnesty Month has inspired me to dust this one off: a grimy cover of a Brazilian tune.

There was a 'snake challenge' posted last June or July, and I really wanted to post for it. My life was in flux: my one-year old son wasn't sleeping or eating very well, and we were in the process of packing up boxes to move. I decided to do a quick and dirty recording using the laptop mic. During certain parts, my son was fussing in the background.

The song is called A Cobrinha by Tiné, who is now one of the lead singers in the terrific group Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda from Pernambuco, Brazil. It's contrapuntal--as close as you can get to a samba fugue, I think. I'm only playing a simplified excerpt of it.

The lyrics are about a card game gone wrong. The verse talks about how to be able to tell the difference between a poisonous snake and a harmless fake, and then the chorus (which I don't sing but just play on organ and synth) describes a knife fight at a bar, with blood on the ground.

posted by umbú (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

What a fantastic song. Your rendition is fantastic as well and the link to the Orquestra is highly appreciated, I had never heard about them and I really like what I've heard in their site.

What did you do the percussion with?
posted by micayetoca at 2:20 AM on March 4, 2009

Ya, this is really great. I love the interwoven melodies of the guitar and the organ/accordian.
And the crying baby makes it.
posted by chococat at 6:09 AM on March 4, 2009

Thanks! I really love this song. Everyone should check out the Orquestra Contemporânea de Olinda link. It's Northeastern Brazilian music by guys who have listened to a lot of Afro-Pop. You can hear Fela in the sound of their horn section.

Part of the reason I didn't finish the song last summer was that I wanted to bring out all my percussion instruments and record the groove (after I taught an ensemble in a temporary job, the music department sold me super cheap all of the instruments they had bought for the course, which is awesome). This is the quicker version, made with a Tom Zé sample (the song mã) + a Paulinho da Viola pandeiro part, sewn together with a timeline programmed with a vintage drum kit on Reason to reconcile the slightly different senses of swingue in the samples. The weirder drum moments later on are made by tweaking the Tom Zé sample with delay (39%, not 33.3% so that it falls behind the beat a bit) and a vocoder.

Thanks chococat! My son was listening to it this morning. He kept pointing and imitating his squawks. Then he would say "baby!" and wouldn't believe me when I told him that it was him.
posted by umbú at 7:03 AM on March 4, 2009

That's exactly why I asked, some of it sounded sampled and some of it sounded actually played. Now that you pointed out the sample from "mã" is so obvious I can't help to hear the "batiza esse neneeeeeeeeeeeeem". And the raw sound of the bass strings of the guitar with the melodica and the baby work great. I like it more and more every time I listen to it.
posted by micayetoca at 8:53 AM on March 4, 2009

Ah, this is excellent! Man, baby snuck up on me. My eyes shot wide open as I twisted my neck around looking for a little one.

Great song, man, I love it.
posted by snsranch at 4:21 PM on March 4, 2009

Love it, umbú, love it. Everything about it. I'd hold this up as a textbook example on creative beat sampling and looping. Starting with great source material (aren't Tom Zé's grooves always juicy and infectious as hell?) and then tweaking and moving them around a little, finding new ways for the samples to sit with each other, so you get something new... man, that's the way to do it! Kudos!

Hell, for this track alone (haven't checked out others yet) I'm happy to have chosen Appleseed's 'amnesty' idea for this month's Challenge.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:54 PM on March 5, 2009

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