Brazilian musician Hermeto Pascoal is famous for making music with unconventional objects. Miles Davis called him the most impressive musician in the world.  On a hot day, we can think of nothing more inspiring and refreshing than Pascoal’s astonishing Musica de Lagoa, made in a lagoon… Well, really, he made the lagoon into an instrument…


Years ago, when we first heard of him, we found this story of his beginnings…

Fascinated by the sounds of nature since he was a little boy, from a pumpkin mammon pipe he made a fife with which he used to play for the birds. He liked to spend hours in the lake playing sounds with the water, and also to pick every piece of scrap metal in his grandfather’s blacksmith shop to hang them in a rope to take sound of them. When he reached the age of 7-8 years old, he decided to try his father’s 8-bass accordion, and never stopped.


Gabriel Quintao

It got us thinking about making our own music, and then we opened at random the ever-illuminating Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch and found a sublime bit of bibliomancy:

Where do we go to listen to the music that has not yet been heard? There is a place in our body to which we can turn and listen. If we go in there and become quiet, we can start to bring the music up.


…AND we can take some bottles or a wooden flute or just the flat palms of our hands into whatever summery body of water we are able to splash around in —lake, ocean, river, pool, tub—  and make some music…



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2 replies on “How Hermeto Pascoal Turned a Lagoon into a Musical Instrument

  1. Hermeto is a genius. I was lucky enough to run into him at the airport in Curitiba, years ago, and asked for his autograph. He included a line of musical notes that yielded a beautiful figure of music.

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