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Pé de Cedro

Zacarías Mourão e Goiá

See also:

Three nations milonga

Walking ahead

The expat

Heavy rain

In 1959, the young artistic producer and composer Zacarias Mourão, who lived in São Paulo, returned to his hometown, the pleasant Coxim, which is located at the north of the currently called Mato Grosso do Sul state. He went to visit his family.

Upon his arrival, he was surprised by a leafy cedar that he himself had planted at a time when, as a boy, he used to play on the streets and in the streams of the large river to which the city owes its name.

This was when the lyrics of the famous rasqueado 'Pé de Cedro' translated into as 'Cedar's tree seedling', were written by him, which soon afterwards was turned into music by composer Goiá (Gerson Coutinho da Silva) who is originally from the Minas Gerais state. This familiar narrative, despite being opposed by some memorialists, turned the song into a symbol of a time when the 'caipira', which in Brazil names the countryside people and their music, was transformed into 'sertaneja', another kind of country music. The song incorporated urban references and won its place in the national phonographic industry.

In 1963, the duo 'Ninico & Senim' made the first recording of the song, accompanied by guitar and accordion. A few months later, the duo 'Tibagi & Miltinho' through a different record label, released the second recording incorporating a set of brass instruments and electric bass. This album boosted up Tibagi & Miltinho's career and became the reference recording of 'Pé de Cedro'.


On both recordings, the interpreters do not give up on singing together performing in third intervals, which is characteristic of the 'caipira' music duos. However, curious thing is that, whilst the duo 'Ninico & Senim' use the feature of falsetto in high notes with certain caution, the 'Tibagi & Miltinho' duo incorporates a falsetto which, embodied by the brass instruments, refer to patterns of Mexican popular music. This in turn, aims to connect with the generation that few years later would identify itself with the 'Jovem Guarda'.

How I miss the time when I planted the seedling of my cedar tree

'Pé de cedro' is currently known as a rasqueado, which as a music genre emerged in the early 40s as a sort of “Brazilianisation” of the Paraguayan polka and guarania. However, in 1963 both of recordings of the song  were labeled as Paraguayan polka, not as rasqueado, confirming the connection of the borderlands of Mato Grosso do Sul with Paraguay.

The Mexican references are evident in the recording of ´Tibagi & Miltinho', which is characteristic of the duo's style. Nonetheless, 'Pé de Cedro' can be considered as an important example of the intense processes of appropriation of Paraguayan music and its hybridisation with Brazilian country music which occurred along the decades of 1940s and 1950s. It is phenomenon which happened under the shadows of the construction of a national musical identity built from the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was back then the country's capital city.

Pé de Cedro became rapidly and extremely popular in the countryside of the southeast and midwest regions of Brazil. However, overall it is among the inhabitants of 'Coxim' and 'Mato Grosso do Sul' where it has become a symbol of regional, historical and socially connected identity with Paraguay, in which borderlands intense exchanges and common identities that challenge the geopolitical divisions are found.

Text by Prof. Dr. Evandro Rodrigues Higa, ethnomusicologist

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