Trilogia do Alumbramento

Lyrics from Trilogia do Alumbramento: “Súplica” (1979), “O poder da criação” (1980), and “Minha missão” (1981) by João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro

Good Audio Versions: Súplica, O poder da criação, Minha missão


The body, death takes away
The voice vanishes in the wind
Pain rises into the darkness
The name, the works immortalize
Death blesses the spirit, the breeze brings music
Which in life, is always the strongest light
Which illuminates life beyond death
Come to me, oh music, come in the air
Hear my plea from where you are
I know well it may not be the only one
Come to me, oh music, come dry the people’s tears
Everyone already suffers too much, help the world to live in peace

“O poder da criação”

No, no one makes samba just because they choose to
No force in the world interferes with the power of creation
No, it’s not necessary to be happy, nor afflicted
Nor to take refuge in the most beautiful place in search of inspiration
No, it’s a light that comes all of a sudden, with the speed of a falling star
That ignites the mind and the heart
Yes, it makes one think there’s a greater force that guides us
That’s in the air
It comes in the middle of the night, or in the light of day
It comes to torment us

And the poet lets himself be carried away by that magic
And a verse starts to come, and a melody starts to come
And the people begin to sing… Lalalaiá….

“Minha missão”

When I sing, it’s to alleviate my tears
And the tears of those who’ve already suffered so much
When I sing, I feel the radiance of a saint
I’m kneeling at the feet of God
I sing to announce the day, I sing to brighten up the night
I sing to denounce the scourge, I also sing against tyranny
I sing because in a melody I kindle in the heart of the people
The hope for a new world, and the struggle to live in peace

Of the Poder da Criação (power of creation), I’m a continuation
And I want to express gratitude that my Súplica (plea) was heard
I’m a messenger of music
My song is a mission, it has the force of prayer
And I fulfill my duty to those who live in tears
I live to sing, and I sing to live

When I sing, death runs through me
And I belt out a song from my throat
Cause the cicada, when it sings, dies
And wood when it dies, sings

— Interpretation —

João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.
João Nogueira and Paulo César Pinheiro (seated) composed over 50 sambas together. They celebrated their partnership with the release of the album Parcerias in 1994, which features 17 of their top hits.

This trilogy was inspired  by an argument that Paulo César Pinheiro witnessed one day at Odeon Records in Rio de Janeiro. Pinheiro looked on as a grumpy director at the studio scolded a maestro who had let his cigarette ashes fall on the floor. The studio was swank and sparkling; Prince Charles had been flown in to inaugurate it. But as Paulo César Pinheiro watched the tiff between director and maestro, he reflected on how silly it was: The posh studio that the director was so concerned with protecting would be gone one day, and the names on a plaque on the wall, including Prince Charles’s, would fade away. The music that was being recorded there was what really mattered –  it would last forever, and immortalize the artists’ names.

The three songs in the trilogy are dedicated to three essential moments in the process of composing a song: a reverence for music, which inspires the desire to compose; the moment of creation; and the act of singing the song. The last line of “Minha missão” is a common saying in Brazil, referring to the process of making a wooden instrument that begins with the death of a tree and ends with the music made by the instrument.

João Nogueira explained Paulo César Pinheiro's many successful musical partnerships by calling Pinheiro "a partner of Brazilian music."
Paulo César Pinheiro produced some of Brazil’s best-loved songs with 5 generations of composers. João Nogueira, Pinheiro’s closest partner alongside Mauro Duarte, summed up  Pinheiro’s ability to work with such a variety of partners with a remark in 1980: “Paulinho, in truth, is a partner of Brazilian music.”

Paulo César Pinheiro (b. Rio de Janeiro, 28 April 1949) is a renowned composer and lyricist who became highly sought after as a partner after the success of “Lapinha” (1968), which he composed with Baden Powell. He has worked with five generations of musicians, from Pixinguinha, who would be around 116 today, to Joaquim Carrilho, 17, the son of Mauricio Carrilho.  But he emphasizes that he barely noticed the changes in generations because throughout his career, his sole focus as a lyricist has been to remain faithful to whatever music he’s working with.

Following this simple principle, he has released over 1200 songs, sung by Brazil’s most celebrated singers, and has around 800 yet unreleased.  His participation in the composition process has varied from song to song:  In some cases he only composed lyrics; in others, he built on top of lyrics that were already written (this was the case with “Lapinha”, which already had a refrain that Baden Powell had adapted from a folk chant); sometimes he composed pieces of melody, as well; and he has released a number of songs that are fully his own. His partnership with João Nogueira is representative: It began with “Espelho,” an ode to Nogueira’s father, which Nogueira gave to his friend Pinheiro with lyrics partially written. In the 1970s, Nogueira delivered complete melodies to Pinheiro for him to write the lyrics (including “Eu, hein, Rosa!” and “Batendo a porta“) and by the 1980s, Pinheiro began some of the songs himself, including the sambas in this trilogy. He showed them to Nogueira with the melody and lyrics partially written, and asked Nogueira to add to the melody, at which point he then contributed more lyrics.

João Nogueira (12 November 1941 – 5 June 2000) grew up in the Méier neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, where he began composing sambas at the age of 15 for the neighborhood’s Carnival bloco.  He identified himself as a “sidewalk sambista” – like Noel Rosa – rather than a “hillside sambista” like Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho. He released his first album with Odeon Records (EMI) in 1972, but major critical and popular success came in 1974 with the release of his second LP, E Lá Vou Eu, which included  “Eu, hein, Rosa!” and “Batendo a porta.” His samba gripped the public because it was different from the hillside and Carnaval samba school styles, and also different from the “beachside apartment” style of composers like Tom Jobim and Carlos Lyra.  Rather, his sambas evoked traditional suburban Rio de Janeiro and its “homes with verandas” where choro and seresta had reigned in the earlier part of the century.

João and Paulo Pinheiro met through João’s older sister Gisa, who was a friend of Baden Powell’s sister and Paulo’s friend, Vera. Gisa introduced Paulo to her brother João, and the two quickly became “partners of the bohemian life.” Paulo liked João’s music from the start, but the two did not work together until a couple of years later, when João asked Paulo to help him with the lyrics for a song he was composing in honor of his father, who had passed away when he was a boy. The song, “Espelho,” was released in 1977.  João Nogueira died of a heart attack in 2000, at age 58, and his son, the sambista Diogo Nogueira, now performs the song “Espelho” frequently. Many fans think it was Diogo who wrote it for his father.

Lyrics in Portuguese


O corpo a morte leva
A voz some na brisa
A dor sobre pras trevas
O nome a obra imortaliza

A morte benze o espírito
A brisa traz a música
Que na vida é sempre a luz mais forte
E ilumina a gente além da morte

Vem a mim, ó música!
Vem no ar
Ouve de onde estás a minha súplica
Que eu bem sei talvez não seja a única
Vem a mim, ó música!
Vem secar do povo as lágrimas
Que todos já
Sofrem demais
E ajuda o mundo a viver em paz

“O poder da criação”

Não, ninguém faz samba só porque prefere
Força nenhuma no mundo interfere
Sobre o poder da criação
Não, não precisa se estar nem feliz nem aflito
Nem se refugiar em lugar mais bonito
Em busca da inspiração

Não, ela é uma luz que chega de repente
Com a rapidez de uma estrela cadente
E acende a mente e o coração
É, faz pensar
Que existe uma força maior que nos guia
Que está no ar
Vem no meio da noite ou no claro do dia
Chega a nos angustiar
E o poeta se deixa levar por essa magia
E um verso vem vindo e vem vindo uma melodia
E o povo começa a cantar!

“Minha missão”

Quando eu canto
É para aliviar meu pranto
E o pranto de quem já
Tanto sofreu
Quando eu canto
Estou sentindo a luz de um santo
Estou ajoelhando
Aos pés de Deus
Canto para anunciar o dia
Canto para amenizar a noite
Canto pra denunciar o açoite
Canto também contra a tirania
Canto porque numa melodia
Acendo no coração do povo
A esperança de um mundo novo
E a luta para se viver em paz!

Do poder da criação
Sou continuação
E quero agradecer
Foi ouvida minha súplica
Mensageiro sou da música
O meu canto é uma missão
Tem força de oração
E eu cumpro o meu dever
Aos que vivem a chorar
Eu vivo pra cantar
E canto pra viver

Quando eu canto, a morte me percorre
E eu solto um canto da garganta
Que a cigarra quando canta morre
E a madeira quando morre, canta!

Main sources for this post: A Letra Brasileira de Paulo César Pinheiro, by Conceição Campos; Histórias das Minhas Canções by Paulo César Pinheiro; and this interview with Paulo César Pinheiro.

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