My name is Emma and I have spent the past four years completing a BA in German and Portuguese & Brazilian studies in London. As well as the language, I studied the history, literature and music of Brazil and in 2011 I was lucky enough to spend one semester studying at the Universidade Federal da Bahia.
During my time abroad, I fell in love with Brazilian music and alhough I knew of artists such as Jorge Ben Jor and Chico Buarque before, it was only after living there and learning the language, that the songs really began to mean something to me. I began listening to Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa. I felt that I knew a lot about Brazilian music and enjoyed the lyrics of the famous artists from the Tropicália movement.
Returning home, I took a module at university entitled, ‘Brazilian Poetry & Song: 1958 to the present’. I slowly realised how little I actually knew and how much more there was to learn – it is an ongoing process and I love discovering a new genre and realising there are thousands more new artists to listen to. I fell in love with songs from genres which I never thought interested me previously; we studied Bossa Nova, concrete poetry and right up to the Brazilian rap of the 90s.
Now there is little I love more than to listen to Brazilian music with the realisation that I am understanding most of the lyrics. I want to use this blog to share some of the translations that I have come up with. I am translating the song meanings literally. I am no lyricist myself, so will not attempt to make them poetic. The idea is just for English speakers who don’t speak Portuguese to be able to share in the beauty of these songs.
I am also trying to source slightly different versions of the songs to play alongside the translation, rather that the normal album version. My favourite artists include Caetano, Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Mart’nália, Jõao Gilberto, Chico Buarque and I am still discovering more.
Please feel free to comment. I am still learning the language myself and the translations are a work in progress, so I appreciate any suggestions.
Thanks for reading!