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Northeastern region of Brazil has a great variety of traditional and folkloric music genres. The most well-known genre is forró, followed also by baião and xaxado.

These music genres are usually characterized by its instrumentation (accordion, zabumba (a snare drum variation), triangle, rebecha and so on). These genres usually portrait as a topic the harshing rural life in the region, characterized by its dry bioma.

Finally, there's also a very unique characteristic in these music genres: they are played on mixolydian scale. This characteristic is very particular and remarkable from the music at Northeastern Brazil, and it's not present in the music from the rest of the country.

How was mixolydian introduced in that particular region and why it's not as present in the rest of the country's folk music?


Quinteto Armorial - Do Romance ao Galope Nordestino (1974) :

Luiz Gonzaga - Asa Branca ft. Fagner, Sivuca, Guadalupe :

Cego Com Cego · José Miguel Wisnik · Tom Zé :

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  • I can't begin to answer, but I can think out loud: * Why is a certain feature more prominent in the music culture of one region than in that of its neighbors? Well, for any of the many reasons that cultures and music-cultures retain their distinctive traits. Adherence to genre? cultural value placed on regional identity? I can only speculate. And... Jun 8, 2021 at 22:13
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    ... and: You use the term "introduced," which assumes outside influence. Might it not have developed internally? Mixolydian is certainly a feature in many music cultures (Appalachian, Scottish/Irish, Scandinavian); did they all cross-pollinate, or is there something about Mixolydian that causes it to spontaneously develop in many music-cultures? Jun 8, 2021 at 22:14
  • @AndyBonner "Might it not have developed internally?" Thanks for considering this! It's totally possible too. Jun 9, 2021 at 0:28
  • Do you know what scales and modes are common in surrounding areas where Mixolydian is not used? Was mixolydian used there prior to the introduction of the accordion? (We know a good deal about its history and the music it was originally designed to play.)
    – Theodore
    Oct 28, 2021 at 21:17
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    well, what's characterstic for mixolydian? the interval between 3rd and 7th is a tritone. maybe that to expand, I always percieve music from Brazil as having a "implicit" bitonality... and probably the mixolydian mode lends itself well with the "implicit" tritone Jul 31, 2023 at 22:19

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