Michael B. Silvers | Listening for Rain: Birds, Local Ecological Knowledge, and Mass Mediation in Brazilian Forró
Music Mondays from the Carriage Barn | Spring 2021
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | In this Music Mondays lecture, Michael Silvers will explore how Brazilian popular songs from the mid-twentieth century became vehicles for the transmission of ecological knowledge about rain, drought, and the meaning of birdsong.
Into the twenty-first century, rain prophets, who announce their observation-based forecasts at a public event in the city of Quixadá, Ceará, each January, take inspiration from these mass-mediated songs about birds and local practices of listening and knowing. In doing so, they assert their trust in local ecological knowledge over other kinds of institutionally sanctioned knowledge about the local environment.
Michael B. Silvers is an associate professor of musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches courses on music and animals, Lusophone musics, and ethnomusicological theory and methods, among other topics. He is the author of Voices of Drought: The Politics of Music and Environment in Northeastern Brazil (UI Press, 2018). His research has been supported by fellowships from Fulbright, Carnegie, ACLS, and the NEH.