Os Tincoãs: Traditional songs and tight harmonies from Bahia in the 1970s

The following was taken from Luiz Américo Lisboa Junior’s article, “Os Tincoãs” (translated from the Portuguese).


In the state of Bahia, Brazil, one of the strongholds of African culture is the region known as the Recôncavo, which generally refers to the rich and fertile region surrounding the Bay of all Saints. Along with agriculture, this region has also produced incomparable cultural riches, which range from longstanding cult traditions such as the Irmandade de Boa Morte (Order of Our Lady of the Good Death) and traditional samba de roda. The region has also produced many influential artists, including: Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethânia (brother and sister), Raimundo Sodré, and Roberto Mendes. Another lesser-known musical group that emerged from this region was the vocal trio, Os Tincoãs, who conquered Brazil’s musical scene of the 1960s-70s with their tight harmonies, beautiful voices and repertoire of traditional songs.

Formed in Cachoeira, Os Tincoãs — whose name refers to a bird that lives in the interior of Brazil — began their professional career in 1960 on a television show called Escada para o Sucesso (The Ladder to Success). Initially, they merely covered popular songs (primarily boleros), but in 1963 they redesigned their repertoire and began focusing on songs from the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, traditional sambas and sacred Catholic chants. Although it was clearly a mixture of styles, it was the music of the Candomblé that provided the primary aesthetic base for the group.


In 1973, they recorded a self-titled album (listen to the whole album here), which served as an important marker in the history of Brazilian music. Beyond the quality of the music and compositions, this album had characteristic vocal arrangements that came directly from the Candomblé houses of Bahia and incorporated only four instruments: the guitar, congas, agogô and xequerê. One of the highlights of the album is the song “Deixa a gira girar,” a folkloric song that the group adapted for themselves. Some other features include "Iansã Mãe Virgem," "Sabiá roxa," "Na beira do mar," and "Saudação aos orixás," which combine to form an excellent sample of traditional Afro-Brazilian music from the Bahian Recôncavo. In particular, the song “Capela da Ajuda” is particularly important as it makes explicit reference to the last of a handful of religious buildings in Bahia that were designed to look like Catholic chapels, but were actually home to African traditional rituals and worship.

After a few additional albums and the death of one of its founding members, Os Tincoãs traveled to Angola in 1983, staying and working for a week in the capital, Luanda. They quickly established themselves and participated in projects for the Angolan State Secretariat for Culture, which had recently made it a priority to identify Angolan values in the culture and music of Brazil, and to form connections and relationships between Angolan and Candomblé traditions. It was during this trip that the group recorded the album Afro Canto Coral Barroco (loosely translated as the Baroque African Chant Choir), which remained unedited and was only finally released for the first time in 2003, 20 years after it was recorded.

After the death of the last remaining original member in 2000, the group was disbanded, but it left a legacy of some of the most wonderful pieces of Brazilian popular music and essential examples of the African roots of Brazilian music.

Here's one treasure from their 1973 self-titled album.

Sweet Barbarians and Tropicalismo

If you're interested in Brazil and its music -- and Bahia in particular -- one of our favorite films is Outros (Doces) Bárbaros (2002) directed by Andrucha Waddington. The film documents a reunion between the four incredible artists who performed on the formative album, Doces Bárbaros (released in 1976), including: Gilberto GilMaria BethâniaGal Costa and Caetano Veloso


These artists were at the center of Brazil's counter-culture movement of the 1960s and remain highly influential to this day in Brazil. The entire film is available on YouTube (linked below), however it unfortunately doesn't have English subtitles.

A related film, called Os Doces Bárbaros, was released in 1976. This full film is also available on YouTube, but again without English subtitles.