“Velhas Histórias, Memórias Futuras” (Old stories, Future Memories) (Eduardo Coutinho)

Eduardo Coutinho’s book, “Velhas Histórias, Memórias Futuras”, was the consequence of his doctor’s degree monography. In this passage of an interview given by the author to the publishers at the time the book was released, we can better understand the intention of this work.

EdUERJ. By the subtitle of the book, we see that you intend to define composer Paulinho da Viola’s cultural strategy, in other words, Paulinho da Viola attitude before tradition. What would be the meaning of the tradition in his work, for you, in a nutshell?

Eduardo - Before answering that question, I tried to think about what tradition is, a very ambiguous category present in human sciences, in religion, in political doctrines and also in the discourses about popular music. I make a distinction between tradition and traditionalism. The first is understood as something alive, as an organic articulation between subject and object - between the people and its cultural heritage. The tradition is an active process of reelaborating the past by a historical subject. Traditionalism, on the other hand, is defined as understanding the culture as a dead and fossilized thing. Paulinho da Viola is one of the composers that best represents the vision of the tradition as a dynamic thing, as a “live heritage”, for, while he is the great heir of the samba and of the choro – from Pixinguinha, Cartola, Nelson do Cavaquinho - he also dons these genders with a completely new style. To say that Paulinho rebuilds the tradition means to say that the past is present in his work; not as something lifeless or crystallized, but as something that changes constantly. The retrieved past is significant in that it conveys to the current listeners something about the present, and, this way, secures a projection into the future. So the tradition is conceived as a conscious project of reality transformation, that is to say, as creative praxis. This seems to be the idea conveyed by the words of one of his sambas: “My father used to tell me / my son be careful / When I think about the future / I don't forget my past” (Dança da Solidão).