The Mandolin in Brazil

Choro and Bandolim - The Mandolin in Brazil


Translation from German to English by Pippa Spence

On this page I have compiled a list of useful information on the topic of choro and bandolim I have been interested in choro music for many years now, but until recently the most I had heard of Jacob do Bandolim’s music came from just one CD. After a stimulating discussion of the book ‘Tocando com Jacob’, I decided to investigate choro more thoroughly. What I discovered came to form the basic outline of this page.

If you search the internet you can find a lot of information about choro music, its musicians and composers, instruments, and recordings. Many musicians have made individual tracks from their CDs available for streaming, and sometimes you can even find sheet music.

Choro music is a lot of fun and is above all a kind of music where the mandolin excels as a solo instrument. If you have a classical background and feel rhythmically secure, then a lot of choro pieces will be easy for you to perform. Other pieces, like Jacob’s recordings or those by the young Hamilton de Holanda, are greatly challenging, and even advanced players will require a lot of practice to perform them well.

I hope that you find the information on this site useful, and that it helps to open up the world of choro music for you and other mandolinists.

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Choro is a musical style from Brazil in which typically a mandolin, clarinet or another lead instrument is backed up by plucked instruments like the guitar and cavaquinho (a small four-stringed guitar), and by percussion instruments such as the pandeiro (similar to a tambourine).

The music is mostly virtuoso and rythmically complex. A master of the genre was the mandolinist Jacob Bittencourt, known as Jacob do Bandolim. His recordings are still listened to today and contemporary groups learn from them.

Some mandolinists who come from classical or bluegrass backgrounds play Brazilian choro as well, for example Marilyn Mair, Caterina Lichtenberg with the Trio Delicado, or Mike Marshall.

You can find more information about choro and its instruments here:

Wikipedia: Choro (eng.) 

. .


Link Collections

My choro and bandolim links at

Choro Links (
Brazilian music links (
Bandolim links (
In my blog I am frequently writing posts about choro and bandolim:

Blog posts in my blog about choro and bandolim


Songbook Choro - 97 selected choros have been published in the Songbook Choro. I have started to present all those 97 choros with some additional information and selected youtube videos on the following page: Songbook Choro


Listen to Choro - Some selected examples

SOASRADIO Podcast - A two-hour Podcast with a lot of  Choro music

Rádio UOL - Playlist Chorinho

A playlist with many great choros:


On  Soundcloud you can find a lot of Brazilian Choro music - just search for "choro". Special tip:

Youtube Playlists

A great selection of playlists with Choro and Brazilian music can be found in the profile of Senhor Da Voz:


Youtube Playlist Edu Miranda Trio

Brazilian Music Day Sept. 7, 2012

Brazilian Music Day is an online and live event offering thousands of links, videos, radio programs, historical essays, galleries, databases and discographies celebrating Brazilian music and culture.

Brazilian Music Day website will post/host 20,000 ALBUMS, 5000 LINKS, 3000 VIDEOS, essays, broadcasts AND SO MUCH MORE!  

There will also be a major seminar up at Columbia University and dozens of concerts!




Bandolim is the name given to the Brazilian mandolin. Bandolims have a shallow build, side frames, and the shape of the body is almost completely round. The tone is mostly open and bright. To see examples, you can find pictures of bandolims on the homepages of the instrument builders listed below


Jacob do Bandolim

Jacob do Bandolim was born in 1918 as Jacob Pick Bittencourt. Initially he began playing violin, but he soon switched to bandolim, the mandolin that became his instrument. After hearing choro music for the first time, he became an avid fan of the style and soon played it so well himself that at just 16, he could be heard on the radio.

He is known as one of the greatest Brazilian mandolinists, and his pieces have influenced numerous musicians right up until the present day.


Tocando com Jacob

This book contains transcriptions for the 24 pieces on two LPs recorded by Jacob in 1961 and 1962. There are two CDs that go along with this, containing each piece in two versions: the first the one from the LP; the second a version without the solo mandolin. Jacob recorded the accompaniment first and added the mandolin part later. Since these original recordings are included, it is possible to play along with the original accompaniment – as long as you master the piece.

The book Tocando com Jacob was published in 2006 by

Instituto Jacob do Bandolim.



Instrument Builders


A major Brazilian manufacturer of instruments, strings and accessories is the Giannini company. They have several types of bandolim in their range.

Joao Batista
Joao Batista (Carmel Music)

Joao Batista (Brasilian Homepage)


Vergilio Lima

Vergilio Lima has been building instruments for 25 years now, including a 10-stringed mandolin.



These manufacturers provide various instruments including two types of bandolim. 


Hamilton de Holanda

Hamilton de Holanda is a fantastic mandolinist – he plays choro pieces, but stylistically his music tends towards jazz.

Homepage of Hamilton de Holanda with events calendar.

Hamiton de Holanda TV bei youtube

His performances are great fun to watch – he moves his head and feet along with the music, often sings or dances as he plays – these videos have made a huge fan of me! (If the link doesn’t work, just search for “hamilton holanda” on

Rodrigo Lessa

Rodrigo Lessa plays guitar, bandolim (the Brazilian mandolin), and sings.

At  myspace you can listen to some tracks:

youtube channel:


Jacob do Bandolim

The following homepage is dedicated to Jacob do Bandolim. There you can find a lot of pictures of Jacob, some transcriptions and audio samples, and also a short film with Jacob in it.


Marco de Pinna

Marco de Pinna by myspace

On MusicExpress’s homepage you can find a selection of recordings by Marco de Pinna from three different CDs. The most interesting is probably the CD Retratos do Brasil. Three movements from the Suite Retratos with strings – a mixture of choro
and classical music that calls to mind Villa-Lobos or Rodrigo – essential  listening!

I also like Santa Morena, a piece by Jacob do Bandolim that I very much enjoy playing myself. Marco de Pinna plays it in a considerly more
Spanish style than Jacob, it almost sounds like Flamenco.

And finally there is a great version of the slow waltz "Gloria" by Pixinguinha, another of my favourite pieces from Jacob’s recordings.

Jorge Cardoso

Brazilian mandolinist and composer trained in classical mandolin in Italy at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi with Maestro Ugo Orlandi. A master's degree in musicology from the University of Brasília (2008). Search and dedicated to Brazilian music lectures and concerts in various countries.

You can download sheet music for two of Jorge Cardoso's compositions at

Jorge Cardoso's academic research - master thesis (in Portuguese language):

Jorge Cardoso's Blog:





Nordic Choro

I have met Jarmo Romppanen in Trossingen at the European Mandolin Academy. He plays the bandolim in his band Nordic Choro.

myspace with some tracks:


Blog post in the choro-music blog:

Website Jarmo Romppanen:

Danilo Brito

Danilo Brito is one of the bandolim players that are regularly teaching choro music at the mandolin symposium in California with Mike Marshall.




Choro Ensemble (New York)

Audio samples and a detailed text about choro music.

Ted Falcon

Ted Falcon 

plays many different instruments, but especially violin and mandolin. He composes original pieces and has just published a book about choro with many transcriptions. He has already played with David Grisman, Mike Marshall and the New Yorker Choro Ensemble.

On his homepage there is a lot of interesting information, pictues, further links, and above all, some interesting audio samples as well.



The group Caratinga consists of 6 musicians, including Anselmo Netto, who plays bandolim. So far they have produced one CD,  and you can listen to audio samples  from it on the homepage.


Johannes Deffner

Johannes Deffner plays Brazilian guitar, from choro through samba to bossa-nova and Brazilian waltzes; he also plays cavaquinho.

In Germany he also plays with the Ensembles „conjunto regional de Choro” Bolinhos de Bacalhau, with the Germano-Brazilian formation Brasileirinho and in the project Choro para Carmen.

On his homepage there is downloadable sheet music for some of his guitar pieces, and audio samples from his CD suite brasileira.


Frank de Violao

Another guitarist who is involved with Brazilian music and studied it in Brasil.

Luperce Miranda

Luperce Miranda (-> Wikipedia) was a Brazilian mandolinist and composer, who lived from 1904 to 1977. He can be heard on many recordings.  His compositions are very interesting, especially his composition  Quando me Lembro  is a great piece.

You can find more information in my Blog and in the choro blog.

There is a book with 25 pieces by Luperce Miranda published by the publisher Da Fonseca. 



Another bandolim player, who also plays unusual material, as you can see from the following video:

Video with Armandinho (Ovation Mandoline) und Yamandu (Viola)


Dudu Maia 

Dudu Maia has an English language Homepage

There are also some videos on youtube; I particularly like the video of Quando me Lembro, one of the best pieces by Luperce Miranda. In this piece there is a slow part in typical Duo-Style – the main voice as a tremolo on the E-string and fragmented chords as a second staccato-voice beneath that. 

youtube channel: Dudu Maia

Wilfried Berk

Wilfried Berk was born in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiero as son of German immigrants. He grew up in Brazil and studied the clarinet in Rio and Berlin. In the late 60s he moved to Hannover, Germany where he teaches the clarinet. He playes as a soloist and with different ensembles. 

Recently Wilfried Berk and the guitarist Daniel Wolff  have recorded the CD Coisas de Vida with Brazilian choro music . You can listen to some of the pieces from this CD on several myspace pages of Wilfried Berk:


Abdallah Harati

Abdallah Harati is a guitar player form Brazil who wants to make the choro music popular around the world. He has studies in Berklee, was in Granada in Spain, in Germany, in Dubai and currently lives in Vietnam.

He has produced several videos to demonstrate the picking techniques of the Brazilian guitar for different choros. Those can be found on his homepage  direct link:  Choro-Classes




If you are interested in Brazilian choro music, don’t miss this film -Basileirinho by Mika Kaurismäki. It should be in cinemas in Germany in 2006. You can find information about the film in the News section on Mika Kaurismäki’s homepage:

An interview worth reading where Mika Kaurismäki talks about his film, from the newspaper blue rhythm

The Trio Madeira Brasil contributed:


More interesting links related to choro und Brazil


Yo Asal

On Johannes Asal’s homepage there is a biography of the Brazilian composer Pixinguinha  in German and additional interesting information. Of particular interest are the the long lists of links relating to Brazil und Brazilian music. 

In Freiburg there is also a society for Germano-Brazilian culture: dona flor

SAMBA und Choro

The homepage  is, as the name suggests, concerned with samba and choro. Particularly interesting is the extensive archive of sheet music, which you can download (after a free registration).

Very little of the music is available in gif or midi format, most unfortunately only in the ENCORE (extension .enc) format. In order to view and print these files you will need ENCORE, or alternatively you can import them to FINALE (minimum Finale Printmusic, List price approx. 99,- Euro)


You can find transcriptions of a few choro pieces at the Tabedit files on

Daniella Thompson - Blog about Brazil

I have just discovered this blog from Daniella Thomson about Brazilian music. It includes a lot of CD reviews. It is best to enter the website via the following link:

Daniella Thompson

On this page you will probably find less recent entries. Via the link "A Brazilian folly by Daniella Thompson" on this page you can get to the current blog and other pages. A personal homepage is devoted to the Brazilian composer Ary Barroso. 

Le Bouef sur le Toit

The review of Darius Milhaud’s "Le Boeuf sur le Toit" is very nicely done. Milhaud spent some time in Brazil and developed many Brazilian tunes in this opus. Daniella Thompson identifies this and lets you hear examples from Milhaud’s work – and also, for comparison, many original recordings of the corresponding pieces. A lot of pictures illustrate this series of fascinating articles. 

On the homepage there is also a discography for "Choro", which is admittedly not completely up to date, but is certainly still interesting.

In any case, I will take a closer look at these pages – I think I will find a lot more to read there.



A homepage about the Pandeiro  - here you can order handmade Brazilian Pandeiros.  pandeiro_com_200.jpg


In Germany it is probably easier to order Brazilian percussion instruments, but also guitars and cavaquinhos, at Kalango. Perhaps you can even find Brazilian bandolims there.

Where to by Brazilian sheet music and books in Germany

Musicland Blasinstrumente has a big list of brazilian music: Choro Noten bei Musicland

TFM - Centro do Livro e do Disco de Língua Portuguesa - portugiesische Bücher und Musik - Teo Ferrer de Mesquita


Where to by Brazilian sheet music and books in USA

Atlantico Books

Bom dia & Good Morning, Michael!

I just came across MandoIsland, and I wanted to commend you on your very thorough and informative blog! I am a book-importer & seller here in New York City, specializing in Brazilian & Portuguese books, CDs, and DVDs. We work with a small but very enthusiastic group of choristas and sambistas, primarily in California and Washington States. They adore several of the books we work with:

Thanks again for the great work you are doing with MandoIsland!

Another book about the bandolim:

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