Roland Dyens on Brazilian music

Roland Dyens (1955-2016) was a “great and incomparable French guitarist, composer, and arranger,”

one of the most important guitarists around the world, due to his interpretations, his compositions, and especially his vision of the instrument and of music overall.

He was admired for his improvisations and arrangements:

Few have done as much for the instrument in the last 50 years as Dyens…

Here’s an extract from Dyens’s 2009 interview with Classical Guitar:

CG: Pixinguinha’s music is enjoying a renaissance in Brazil. Is that how you became interested in arranging his chôro music for solo guitar? You seem to have a strong instinct for Brazilian music, as evidenced by your early 3 Saudades. Is that a personal preference?

I only discovered Pixinguinha’s music a few months ago. If you haven’t yet, I suggest you do the same. By the way, the name of this genre is now spelled simply choro. The circumflex reminded foreign readers that the o in the middle is closed and helped distinguish the noun from the verb form choro, “I weep,” pronounced with an open o.

Over to Dyens:

I used to claim that I was Brazilian in one of my previous lives. I deeply feel as if I were a Brazilian artist and citizen. Popular Brazilian music is definitely one of the two most sophisticated popular musics in the world, together with Indian music. So it is not because of the current Pixinguinha revival that I decided to work on this music. The project was very probably sleeping in my heart for years and years.

I won’t claim I understand Indian pop. On Brazil, I’m 100% with Dyens.

I wonder which country has the worst pop music of all. Russian pop tends to be bad but not uniformly so. Some of it is atrocious but most seems based on American music (rather than on cheesy continental pop as in the recent past) so it has to retain a degree of sophistication.

The worst of all, from my experience, has got to be Austrian pop. It sounds to me like a happily dysfunctional marriage of the cheesiest country with the cheesiest Eurodisco.

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