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  • Writer's pictureKatia Losito VocalCoach

Pelé’s Ginga: “Good playing” (Bel Gioco) vs “Good singing” (Bel Canto)

Who among you knows Pelé? Calling it a rhetorical question is an understatement, isn’t it? But how many of you know the Ginga?

The Ginga is a fighting method. It is the triad made up of defense, attack and acrobatics to the sound of music. It was born among African slaves deported to Brazil by Portuguese colonizers. Legend has it that they disguised combat training with dance, and later when the Ginga was officially banned, it was perpetrated within football.

Pelé played by practicing the Ginga. And when he approached professional football, the coach contested his style, calling it "primitive". Pelé felt inadequate because he could not play like the others. Can you imagine? And the “trouble” was in the fact that the coach was actually right!!!! Yes! Pelé was primitive and different.

La mitica rovesciata acrobatica di Pelè
Pelé's acrobatic overhead kick in the movie "Victory"

Well, the story tells us about this Pelé, who with his primitive and unpopular Ginga, won three world cups, and since then that style was called the "Good playing” (Bel gioco).

I don’t know much about football. But I would like to ask the experts in the field... “How many of you know about the Ginga?“ I tried asking some football fans, those who remember footballers, dates and scores …but the Ginga, no... they don’t know about it.

Has the "Bel Gioco" been forgotten like the “Bel Canto"? Of course!

Why? Well, because it is primitive and unpopular! It’s obvious!

It suffered the same fate as Bel Canto, buried by the more modern (not better understood) scientific details on vocal technique.

The word Bel Canto was coined by Giulio Caccini way back in the 17th century. It was the triad: voice, music and words.

Beniamino Gigli, cantante Italiano famoso in tutto il mondo
Beniamino Gigli, Italian singer famous all around the world

Many today confuse Bel canto with the style assumed by some of the current opera singers, which does not reflect the dictates of tradition at all. Bel Canto was the school of vocal mechanics. It concerned the noble and natural use of the voice instrument, to best express the most intimate and hidden feelings of the operatic tragedy. And it was not a question of creating small voices, nor fake big ones. It was acting while singing or singing while talking. It was declamation put to music. First there were people of Pele's ream... they were farmers, merchants and dockers. Then followed by the "refiners" who had the opportunity to practice the technique within the clerical choirs of the Schola Cantorum, made available to those who could not afford a teacher. Among these we remember Beniamino Gigli, who was the son of a shoemaker.

Now we don't know why, but we are witnessing the collapse. We came up with the idea that music and words are important, to fill the void of missing voices. But Bel Canto is an inseparable triad like the Ginga, and if there is no voice, music and words can’t make up for it.

Modernity has replaced what was already working, in the name of renewal. Modern science, acclaimed by today's singing masters as the forerunner of progress, has ended up being the bulwark of homogenization.

Singing is not a mathematical equation. It is not measured with a spectrogram. Traditions, not only in music, had in them vital truths often poorly explained, but which did not detract from the practical efficiency of their statements.

Pelé's “Bel Gioco" won three world championships. After him, Brazil won again only 24 years later. Perhaps they have forgotten the “Bel Gioco" of the Ginga like we have forgotten the "Bel Canto".

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