Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Sociedade Percussiva

Creativity through sustainability with the Lapa-based community percussion workshop.

The drums in François Archanjo’s percussion workshops are built entirely from materials that cannot be conventionally recycled or reused, mixing the energy of Afro-Brazilian rhythms with socially and environmentally sound ideas. The drummer experiments with emptied, well-cleaned chemical canisters of various sizes to produce different tones, along with oil-can snares and abandoned canvasses stretched over water tanks, fashioned into eco-friendly Japanese-style drums.

The project developed naturally from Archanjo's childhood desire to make music out of whatever he found around him, searching for alternatives to the traditional – and costly – musical instruments and methods of learning. Venturing to the mountains of waste some three hours from the centre of Rio, he found the musical potential in silicone canisters, water tanks, old canvases, oil tins and glass bottles, each with their own tones and peculiarities. With a gas canister perched under his arm previously used to produce fizzy drinks, Archanjo is proud of how he has developed an eye and an ear for picking out the potential in old materials.

It is not dissimilar to how he works to find the hidden musical potential in the people he teaches. Having directed the project for two years in Estonia, where he received a national award for his social work, Archanjo explains that the idea is not to arrive and 'transform' the lives of the people he works with, particularly on the peripheries of Rio, but to channel what they already have into something fresh and positive, new mentalities and activity.

“These communities are already rich in culture, they have that positive energy naturally. It is just a matter of directing it." Environmentally speaking, by transforming what is considered waste and teaching in places largely ignored by society, Archanjo hopes to share ideas and learning and to develop a combination of environmental and musical education. Open workshops also take place every Wednesday from 7-9pm in Lapa (Secretaria de Gênero, Raça e Etnia, 98 Rua Joaquim Silva, Lapa 21 9997 8411), providing the perfect opportunity to engage with both Brazilian culture and an environmental initiative in a dynamic and experimental process.

Words by Antonia Eklund

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