As a package, these two recent books of the past decade are of considerable value for teachers and students of Brazilian cultural history. Through them, readers can grasp some understanding of the history of music and music making in Brazil from 1500 to 1985. This edition of Appleby’s The Music of Brazil is an exact reprint in paper of the original hardcover edition published by the same press in 1983. Unfortunately, it has not been updated or otherwise rewritten in any form, which is surprising, since several reviews of the original edition were not very favorable (e.g., by Jamary Oliveira in Latin American Music Review and Anthony Seeger in Ethnomusicology). Oliveira’s review, especially, pointed out many errors, omissions, and misunderstandings that the author could easily have corrected, making this paperback edition a useful, affordable book, suitable for classroom use. As it stands, it should be read along with Oliveira’s review. Additionally, as Seeger argued, for a deeper understanding of the history of Brazilian music, and one within the context of the rest of Latin America, Appleby’s book should be read concurrently with Béhague’s Music in Latin America: An Introduction (1979). In other words, The Music of Brazil must not be understood as definitive, even though the advertising flier claims that it “is the most comprehensive history of Brazilian music available in English.”

Appleby has written six chapters: “Music in the Colony,” “The Braganças in Brazil,” “The Awakening of Nationalism,” “Folk, Popular, and Art Music,” “The Nationalist Composers,” and “After Modernismo.” Portions of his chapters (especially 1, 3, and 4) provide introductory materials for Charles Perrone’s book on contemporary song in Brazil, although Perrone’s introduction, “Popular Music, MPB, and Song Literature,” nicely parallels them.

Perrone’s Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Song includes detailed musical, literary (song text), and sociological analyses of the repertories of six popular Brazilian composers-singers. The chapters are entitled “Chico Buarque: A Unanimous Construction,” “Other Words and Other Worlds of Caetano Veloso,” “Gilberto Gil: Guidance and Afro-Brazilliance,” “Milton Nascimento: Sallies and Banners,” and “João Bosco and Aldir Blanc: The Drunkard and the Tightrope Walker.” The book concludes with “MPB: Muse, Protest, and Beat.” Perrone analyzed hundreds of contemporary song texts to provide English readers with a window into the very important musical-poetic world of contemporary and artistic Brazil. The book is informative, easy to read, and of great value in understanding many sociological aspects of Brazil’s recent history. The information is pertinent today, as many of these Brazilian songwriters continue to use song as a vehicle for social commentary.

Both books provide a valuable picture of some aspects of Brazilian cultural history. However, to study and teach music only with words, a few photographs, and musical notations, is not studying and teaching music. Music is not music until it becomes a sonic event, and it is very doubtful that more than a handful of recordings of the vast amount of materials covered in these books is commercially available in the United States. At least Perrone has included a large discography of sound materials to accompany his book; Appleby has no discography at all.