What is choro?

Choro, which means ‘to weep’, originates in 19th century Rio de Janeiro and is the traditional music of Brazil. Its name belies the frequently cheerful sound of its melodies.

It came about initially as a way of playing European dances such as waltzes and polkas and fused them with the syncopation and flair of Afro-Brazilian music.

Amateur musicians originally performed choro in a trio consisting of a flute, guitar and cavaquinho (Brazilian ukelele). Since there were no written arrangements, the instruments alternated between accompanying and lead parts according to the whims of the musicians.

Flutist Joaquim Antonio da Silva Calado Júnior (1848–1880) founded the original choro group, introduced the flute as a solo instrument and also created the first choro composition, Querida por Todos (Loved by All), published in 1869.

After the turn of the 20th century, new instruments such as the bandolim (Brazilian mandolin), piccolo, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, baritone horn, and trombone were introduced to the groups as solo instruments. During the 1930s percussion instruments were also added.

Click here to learn more about those players who shaped the genre we enjoy so much today – players such as the legendary Pixinguinha and Ernesto Lazareth.