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Alegre Corrêa / Romy Martínez

Veja também:

Pé de Cedro

Milonga tres nações

Tocando em frente

Batendo água

God, Our Father, listen to our cry,

calm down the pain of these lands

Estrangeiro, translated as 'Expat' or 'foreigner', is a composition by Alegre Corrêa, guitarist, composer and arranger from the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, which shares a border with Uruguay and Argentina. The music for Estrangeiro was written in the 80's, time during which he met and became friends with the gaucho* accordionist Luis Carlos Borges.


In addition to being a dear friend, Luís Carlos Borges has always been very close to Latin American popular music. One of the reasons is that the accordion is often used to play chamamê, a musical genre widely spread in Argentina, which in turn is culturally linked to Paraguay and its most traditional rhythm, the Paraguayan polka. Likewise, the geographical proximity of Rio Grande do Sul to neighboring countries also made it possible for the accordionist to approach the chamamê and other musical genres from the border regions with Argentina and Uruguay.


Therefore, it was only natural for Borges to introduce some of his Latin American popular music references to Alegre. "I was very touched every time I listened to Latin American music. It used to be a much more of an emotional and intuitive experience rather than a rational process", says Alegre.


The synesthetic influence of Latin American rhythms, melodies and lyrics also touched Alegre's creative essence. These experiences were fruitful and inspiring. They resulted, among many other composition, in the music for Estrangeiro. 


"I tried to make it a homage to the foreign rhythms to which I was introduced to and identified myself so much with. My intention was to write an Argentine chamamê", comments the composer.


From chance to partnership


Alegre is a musician who is well accustomed to work in partnership with poets and writers in his compositions. But, at the time he did not found anyone to write the lyrics for Estrangeiro. Then he left its music stored for years.


During a friends gathering at his home in Florianopolis, Alegre, unpretentiously, showed the melodies to singer and songwriter Romy Martinez. "We were talking and he told me about the music and he thought it had a lot to do with me", recalls the singer. By chance a rich artistic partnership was created.


Alegre played the chords on the guitar and sang the melody. "I was recording on my cell phone, humming along with Alegre. We played the music for a few moments", adds Romy.

Romy's identification with the sonority and as well as with the feeling of the song Estrangeiro was instantaneous. Not only because she admires compositions which value Latin American culture, but also for knowing in theory and in practice what it is like to live far from her hometown and country.


Romy was born in Ciudad de Leste, Paraguay, where he started her musical training. Between 2005 and 2009, he moved to Florianópolis to study music at UDESC, Florianópolis. In the following years he decided to knock on world's door again and moved to Argentina, where she lived from 2011 to 2014. In 2015, she returned to Florianópolis for a vacation and met her friend Alegre.


Borderlands for words

At the end of her stay in Florianópolis, Romy returned to Argentina with two ideas in mind: one was that she could no longer see herself living in Buenos Aires, and, two was the first excerpt of the lyrics for Estrangeiro.


This period of time have not could been more oppropiate to translate the feelings that the song Estrangeiro deserved to be poured into a song. In this way, the music which spent so many years locked in a drawer would finally cross the borderlands of words and pampas, in a figurative and literal sense.


Romy's return to Brazil was made on land, travelling for 24 hours from Argentina, into Uruguay until her arrival to Brazil. During the journey, different languages, accents, landscapes, their people and moments of the day were observed by Romy. "When I arrived, I realised that many of the elements I saw while returning here, would serve as an inspiration to write the song and portray the views of a foreigner", she comments.


The verses for Estrangeiro happened to be mixed between Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani, as a result of the diverse feelings and thoughts experienced during the trip. This was initially perceived as an issue by Romy, but was generously embraced by Alegre who mentioned it very much resembled his own experiences as an expat living in Viena for several years.


The combination of these three languages ​​ended up being an important element approached by Purahéi Trio as a project, but it also symbolises the language changing upon each arrival and departure.

Text by journalist Cinthya Dávila and singer/ethnomusicologist Romy Martinez

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