Research Project 2

The women (in)visibility in Brazilian Classical Music

2018 –

In classical western music is naturalized the nonexistence of female musicians. The exclusion of female composers in music points to the women’s silence, influencing the knowledge hierarchy and the non-communication of the different artistic experiences.

This project discusses women’s representation in Brazilian classical music, from the concepts of feminism and politics. For this purpose, we check and count the number of women in different musical media, such as: 1) how the media disseminate and describe the work done by women; 2) women acting in prominent positions (composers, conductors, soloists, etc.) in music; and 3) in scientific research in music.

“Great Composers of Classical Music” Collection, Editora Abril, 2009. The collection consists of 40 volumes, comprising 37 composers, 37 of whom are male.

The results are significant and point to the gender difference concerning the prestigious functions, thus expressing the structure of experience and women’s insertion in the institutions’ political field. We believe that quantitative studies about gender in specific areas can contribute to the discussion about female representation.

It is important to note that this project is an exploratory study, still in its initial phase. The research aims to understand the social dynamics around the issue of gender, with a focus on the disparity of opportunities in the musical environment. The study also seeks to comprehend the female invisibility in prominent positions and, consequently, the forms of power and domination of the male figure.

Number of composers performed by the São Paulo State Orchestra (OSESP) between 2000 and 2019, by gender, with blue bars representing male and yellow bars representing female composers.

This research project originated with a group of studies, with students from the Department of Theory of Art and Music at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES), investigating the musical labor market for women as composers, instrumentalists, researchers, sound engineers, etc. The group also gave rise to artistic works such as Elas por Elas, a musical ensemble of female performing female arts (see more information about the group in ELAS POR ELAS).

In 2020 the research project instigated another artistic contribution, the documentary TACET.
The film is about three female musicians who discuss women’s lives in Brazilian Classical music, primarily the female composer.