The pifanos, pifaros or pife are quena transverse flutes well known in Brazil by the pife bands of the northeast. Brazilian natives also have their transverse flutes in the fife style in other scales. Some researchers believe that fifes arrived in Brazil at the time of colonization. Others believe it to be of indigenous origin. The fact is that in various parts of the world, native cultures developed their transverse flutes.
The greatest tradition and profusion of fife bands is concentrated in the Northeast, but the sound has spread across the country. This form of expression can be found in all regions, in the Southeast (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais), in the South (Santa Catarina), in the Midwest (Federal District) and in the North, in tribes from the Upper Xingu. . Also known as zabumba, cabaçal, warm woman, fife suit, among other names, they are formed by intuitive musicians.
It is hard to believe how an instrument apparently so simple and handcrafted is capable of producing such rich and beautiful music, enlivening parties, processions and still being the livelihood of many musicians in various regions of Brazil.
“The famous Feira de Caruaru, in Pernambuco, sung by Luiz Gonzaga, and Brazilian Intangible Cultural Heritage, continues to be a showcase for bands from the region. There is the Banda de Pífanos São Cristóvão, from Panelas, in the rural area of the state. The accordion player Dominguinhos said: “From seeing the pife bands so much, Seu Luiz Gonzaga was inspired to create this formation of forró pé de serra, that is, accordion, zabumba and triangle”. The sound of these instruments also influenced Brazilian composers and arrangers such as Quinteto Violado, Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, Geraldo Azevedo, Naná Vasconcelos, Quinteto Armorial, Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno.”
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