introduction to the project

This website intends to bring to the public various transcriptions of the scores of some of the soundtracks composed by Moacir Santos for the Brazilian cinema in the early 1960s. Some of the films that had their music transcribed include: Seara Vermelha, Ganga Zumba, Os Fuzis and O Beijo. Additionally, information in text and image form were especially produced to complement the website's content and provide a point of reference on the subject, available free of charge to all. The transcripts are a byproduct of an academic research on Santos' film work, carried out by the UNICAMP Arts Institute and funded by FAPESP, which now has received further support from RUMOS Itaú Cultural.

In recent years, the work of Moacir Santos has been increasingly brought to light, especially through the efforts of Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira in various projects. In one of their efforts, the two musicians released three book of scores [Coisas, Ouro Negro and Choros & Alegria] and, as a result, now the world has access to material that had remained for a long time restricted to the memory of a few. This allowed Moacir Santos' music to be very quickly disseminated and, consequently, musicians of different generations became interested in paying their own tribute to the maestro. Since then, many academic projects have emerged throughout Brazil and various music groups began including Santos' work in their repertoire, highlighting the book "Moacir Santos or the paths of a Brazilian musician", by Andrea Ernest Dias.

The substantial amount of projects, both academic and artistic, is due in great part to Adnet and Nogueira's published scores. In light of this, we can consider this website to be a natural continuation of this revival of Santos' work as it makes available unpublished musical material that can be used as a primary source for many future projects, in addition to contributing to the resurgence and consolidation of the Brazilian cultural memory.

Moacir Santos's Biography

Moacir Santos was born in the village of Flores do Pajeú, Pernambuco, in 1926. As a child, he was the leader of a small band of children who made music by hitting cans together around the dirt streets. Around the age of ten, he became involved with the martial band that played in the town's church and learned how to play various instruments, ranging from the trumpet to the guitar, and from drums to the banjo, before settling on the clarinet.

After losing his family at a very young age, he was adopted by the Lúcios, a white family, a few decades following the abolition of slavery. At age 14, tired of the domestic violence to which he was subjected, Santos traveled alone to dozens of towns throughout the states of Pernambuco, Paraíba, Ceará and Bahia, playing in every type of bands: bandstands, factory, military; he even joined a circus.

When he arrived in Salvador during World War II, in 1941, he came into contact with the typical American jazz, and a little later he learned how to play the saxophone. Before the age of 20, after having played at the João Pessoa Military Police Band, he went to work as a musician at the famous Rádio Tabajara in Paraíba. When conductor Severino Araújo left for Rio de Janeiro, where he founded the Orquestra Tabajara, Santos took over his position at the radio.

In 1948, already a married man, he moved to Rio de Janeiro and joined the cast of Rádio Nacional, where within a short time he became its conductor. In Rio, he began to seriously study music in a formal way, studying under respected musicians such as Guerra-Peixe, Radamés Gnattali, Claudio Santoro and Hans-Joachim Koellreutter, whose assistant he would become within a few years.

Starting out his career as an arranger of live radio shows and recordings, Santos became famous enough to be the music teacher for an entire generation, which at the time was beginning to plant the seeds of the Bossa Nova. Some of his more famous students included Nara Leão, Roberto Menescal, Paulo Moura, Eumir Deodato, Sérgio Mendes, Baden Powell, João Donato and many others.

On the recommendation of João Gilberto, Santos composed in 1962 the film music for Seara Vermelha [1963], an adaptation of Jorge Amado's novel. During the same period, he further pursued his new vocation as a film composer, writing music for movies such as Ganga Zumba, Os Fuzis, O Beijo and A Grande Cidade.

Blending his profound technical knowledge with African influences and jazz elements, he developed his own strong musical language, expressed in rich and diversified arrangements for films and records of musicians such as Sérgio Mendes, Edison Machado, Elizeth Cardoso and Vinicius de Moraes.

A scholar of classical music, he began to number his composition in the style of the "opus", but under the name of Coisas [Things], which were collected in 1965 in an album of the same name, one of the great records of Brazilian instrumental music. His composition "Nanã" soon became a samba-jazz hit, leading to numerous versions, both instrumental and sung.

In 1967, following the good reception of his film music for Love in the Pacific, he moved to the United States and settled in California the following year. At that time, he worked as a ghostwriter in the teams of Henry Mancini and Lalo Schifrin. In the 1970s, the famous Blue Note label released his albums The Maestro [1972], Saudade [1974] and Carnival of the Spirits [1975], while Discovery Records released his Opus 3 nº 1 [1979].

After working as a composer, arranger, teacher and musician for various projects in the United States and Brazil in the 1980s and 1990s, he achieved recognition in his native country in 2001 with the release of the tribute CD Ouro Negro. In 2005, he released his last album, Choros & Alegria, with new compositions. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 80.

audiovisual productions



audiovisual productions



film scores by movie

General notes, descriptions and abbreviations

The above movies were object of study and had their music transcribed into scores, the images link to its scores. In order to assist the comprehension, there are some general observations, descriptions and abbreviations that can be accessed from this page or from each individual score page.

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