SAVE THE MUSIC TREE
Brazil is the only nation in the world which was named after a tree. “Pau Brasil” (Caesalpinia Echinata) is Brazil’s national tree and today, it is on the verge of extinction.
This timber tree is a very important part of Brazilian history. The bright reddish wood produces a deep red dye and was a great commercial interest which caused intense competition and even fighting among explorers.
In the 15th and 16th century, “Pau Brasil” was highly valued in Europe and quite difficult to get. It was used as a red dye in the manufacture of luxury textiles, such as velvet, in high demand during the Renaissance. When Portuguese navigators discovered Brazil, they realized this tree was quite abundant in the Brazilian coast and soon established a crown granted Portuguese monopoly for felling and shipping to Europe all wood logs they could possibly get.
Until synthetic dyes became available in 1875, the hectic and profitable pursuit of dye wood resulted in almost complete destruction of natural stands. Today, only about 5% of the tree original habitat, the Brazilian Atlantic forest, remains.
The bark and dye extracts from the Brazilian national tree have been vastly used by local communities for a large number of traditional medicinal purposes. Modern day research confirms the traditional knowledge of its anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity, among other major healing properties.
The Brazilian national tree extraordinary healing powers have been further investigated in Brazil for cancer treatments, with auspicious preliminary results.
THE MUSIC TREE
The exploitation of this unique Brazilian timber has continued, for bow for stringed instruments manufacture. The bow making industry reliance on “Pau Brasil” is relatively small compared to the volume of trees harvested to produce red dyes. However, it is still big enough to confer responsibility on bow makers, traders and buyers towards the sustainable use of this imperiled timber.
A good bow is considered as important as the instrument itself for music performance. It is often said that the bow is the soul of the instrument it touches.
The modern concave instrument bow was invented in the late 1.800’s, by French artisan Francois-Xavier Tourte, thanks to large supplies of “Pau Brasil” logs available in France, which were imported to Europe during the economic rage of red dye. Tourte recognized its heartwood exceptional qualities for bow making: the high density of the grain and its tendency to be free of knots, the amazing flexibility of the timber and its fantastic ability to hold a fixed curve. Those qualities were long known by the traditional knowledge of Brazilian aboriginal indians, who used the wood to manufacture their bows, arrows and other hunting tools.
Tourte’s instrument bows made of “Pau Brasil” were strong and flexible enough to allow for more virtuoso level of playability, enabling new forms of music expression. Much of the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Paganini and their followers would simply not be performable in the way we are used to enjoying it, without the modern Tourte bow made from the Music Tree.
In fact, Brazil’s national tree wood is so highly prized among world class professional musicians and the bow-making business, it is often called “The Music Tree”.
In its natural habitat, the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest, “The Music Tree” can live for over 500 years. However, it is very slow growing and takes at least 30-35 years for producing the dense reddish heartwood suitable for bow-making. Only a small portion of the best trees are actually suitable for fine bows and uneducated woodcutters are not properly trained to identify usable wood for craftspeople needs. Moreover, there is a high level of wood wasting in the bow-making process: around 75% is lost as logs are converted into bows blanks and further 75% are wasted in processing these into bows.
“Pau Brasil”, also known by violin bow crafters as “pernambuco wood”, still is the premier material used for making bows for violins, violas, cellos and other stringed instruments. Despite the search for alternative woods and synthetic materials such as carbon fiber, no substitute bow material has been found that equals the acoustic quality of this unique timber.
“The Music Tree” has become so scarce, it has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (http://cms.iucn.org) and in the Convention on International Trade (www.cites.org) since 2007. Standing trees harvest is banned in the immediate future, which means that violin bows can only be legally manufactured from existing logs inventories. Enforcement, however, is poor and the best way to protect this imperiled tree is empowering stakeholders through public awareness campaigns highighting its relevance for History, Medicine and Music.
SAVING THE MUSIC TREE
So… let’s use Music to be part of something bigger than we have ever imagined: protect the extraordinary Music Tree and replant it!
19-year-old Brazilian singer and songwriter Laura Rizzotto, who was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and currently lives in Los Angeles, started getting involved with the Brazilian national tree conservation project since her childhood and participated in initiatives which contributed directly for disseminating more than 100,000 Music Trees seedlings in Brazil.
Now, Laura launches a project to encourage a greater public awareness regarding the urgent need of conservation and restoration of this endangered species.
The plan is to take immediate action to ensure the survival and sustainable use of this timber which is so uniquely relevant for Music, Medicine and History.
IN A NUTSHELL
The project aims to encourage:
1) PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE RELEVANCE OF THE MUSIC TREE FOR HISTORY, MEDICINE AND MUSIC;
2) REPLANTING OF THE MUSIC TREE IN THE BRAZILIAN COAST THROUGH COMMUNITY-BASED INITIATIVES;
3) DEVELOPING RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF THE MUSIC TREE;
4) EDUCATING LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS STUDENTS ON THE MUSIC TREE CONSERVATION.
SPREADING MUSIC / ONE FOR ONE
Among other initiatives, Laura will use her latest music album “REASON TO STAY” release as a driving force to contribute to a legitimate reforestation program of “The Music Tree”, in Brazil.
When you buy 1 (one) “Reason To Stay” album or download 10 (ten) “Reason To Stay” songs and email us your purchase receipt, Laura will have 1 (one) certified Music Tree seedling planted in the Brazilian coast, with no extra cost.
1 REASON TO STAY music album = 1 certified MUSIC TREE planted in Brazil.
RAISING AWARENESS IN A VIRTUOUS CIRCLE
To accomplish this project, Laura joined forces with a Brazilian NGO devoted to Pau Brasil conservation and public schools from Rio de Janeiro.
Unfortunately, “the Music Tree” devastation and decline has been so extreme that most students from Brazilian public schools have never had the chance to see a single specimen of the tree that named their nation.
Once students are aware of the Music Tree relevance and their environmental responsibility, they will be empowered to educate their families, generating a virtuous circle towards the conservation and sustainable management of our beloved “Music Tree”.
On the other hand, Los Angeles, as the most important city in the music industry, will be a perfect start for promoting this public awareness campaign towards demanding immediate reforestation and sustainability in the use of “The Music Tree” among bow makers/traders, music lovers and professional musicians who are end consumers of the bow for stringed instruments industry.
GET INVOLVED NOW!
I WANT TO HAVE A CERTIFIED MUSIC TREE PLANTED IN BRAZIL: