Sinal Vermelho (red traffic light)


In this, post I want to talk about a video named Sinal Vermelho that I did putting music and photography together. Sinal Vermelho is a video about people who need to sell things on roads intersections during the time the traffic light is red to get some earning. The video shows how the task is difficult and sometimes demeaning while compels the watcher to reflect about that situation. The existence of this “job” is another consequence of the inequality of opportunities my country still has.

Sinal Vermelho got a prize from the Brazilian cultural association Associação Traços and is part of the BSB2060 project (

Before getting into the video, let me explain why Sinal Vermelho is so important to me.

Here is a thing… I have been a professional musician since 1990 and music has been my lifetime passion. Although I have always stated that music has been my only art form, looking back, I noticed that I always had a photography camera with me. Well, always a crappy photography camera.

In 2007 I bought a decent camera. I realized how I loved the new toy when I noticed that three hours after buying it, I had read the owner’s manual three times. In addition, in the following four weeks I took about 1000 pics a week. Since then, the camera has been my companion on basically every trip I have done. I have taken pictures of anything I find interesting. Things like buildings, landscapes, flowers, bugs, people, shadows, concerts, skies, trees, lakes, bottles, etc.

Four years ago, I got a professional level camera that triggered me to turn photography into something more than a hobby. I can say that the photography bug bit me.

A pause to explain about the camera.

Long time ago I realized that photography is about light and composition. That is it! It is not about the size or the quality of the camera. Light and composition! I know I mentioned on this text about the quality of the cameras I have owned, but the thing is not the camera itself. The thing is: I like to be part of the entire process of creating an image. I like to decide which configurations I would use to get a specific result and I like to spend time editing the final image to get what I visualized before pressing the camera’s button. A better camera allows me to control all these steps. I know it would be easier and faster to get the same image with my mobile, but I love spending time on the process. Remember: light and composition!

Back to the story!

I confess I got scared when I realized my passion to photography has raised to the same level as my passion to music. I was confused of how I would deal with both passions, how I would allow enough time to photography without jeopardizing music and how photography would affect my profession as musician. Fortunately, they do not compete for space in my heart. They help one each other. Actually, being a photographer helped me to be a better musician.

Now the video enters this story!

On a Sunday night, I read about a call for cultural projects in Brasília named BSB2060. The call invited artists from all art forms to send products that discuss how they would see Brasília in the year of 2060. Reading the project’s supporting arguments, I noticed that there was a strong social aspect to be explored on it. Although I could have proposed a musical project, I felt lack of objectivity because of the subjective nature of instrumental music, which is my main field.

Photography enters here!

Thinking about all possibilities I could explore, I understood that if I put photography and music together, I would be able to balance the objective aspect of the former and the subjective aspect of later to convey a strong and clear social message. I just needed to define a theme.

Changing subject again…

In the late 1990s, I would go very often to Brasília’s central bus station because I didn’t have a car. As it happens to almost any bus station in the world, there were poor people wandering and asking for change. During that period, while waiting for the busses, I noticed that some people standing in the lines just ignored the other ones when they asked for some change. What a degrading situation! I felt very touched and restless at that situation because I saw it almost every time I was waiting for a bus.

How could someone just ignore the existence of another human being just because of their social condition?

Later when I bought a car, I noticed that the same situation happens on roads intersections. When someone asks for change or tries to sell stuff during the red light, some drivers just close the cars’ windows and ignore whoever is outside.

My project’s theme was defined. I would talk about people who need to sell things on roads intersections during the time the traffic light is red to get some earning. The final product: a video with photos of people selling stuff during the red light backed by a composition that aims to reflect the mood of their situation.

On that very Sunday night, I composed the piece that would be the video’s soundtrack. On Monday, I recorded the tune and sent to piano player Misael Silvestre and harmonica player Pablo Fagundes to record their instruments.

On Wednesday morning I left home to get the pictures. I was pretty nervous because I am too shy to approach people and ask if I can take pictures of them. Soon I realized that there would have stronger feelings involved.

Firstly, I felt uncomfortable when I introduced myself as a photographer. I had never thought about it and have always introduced myself as a musician despite having a camera in my hands. I felt I wasn’t good enough or didn’t have enough production to be called a photographer.” On that moment I decided I would be musician AND photographer.

Secondly, spending some time chatting with the people I approached was overwhelming. As a guy who has never had problems to find jobs in music and has skills to find jobs on other fields if needed, it was heartbreaking* to chat with people who found on the traffic light trade their only option to earn something.

Can you imagine yourself waiting for a red light, rain or shine, to be able to earn some money? You will have 30 or 45 seconds to succeed. If nobody buys anything from you, you’ll have to wait for the next red light.

Can you imagine yourself trying to show what you have in your hands to someone inside a car and finding that the person is utterly motionless, like made of stone, pretending you are not there? Those people face these situations every single day.

Just give yourself some time to think about it.

When I got home, I just selected the pictures and edited the video as you can see below.

This was my first public work as a photographer and it showed me that I can use my arts – photography and music, to help people. I’ll do it more.

* Because of my limited vocabulary, I don’t know if the word “heartbreaking” is strong enough to conveys what I felt. It was one of the strongest feelings I have ever felt. You can replace “heartbreaking” to the strongest same-meaning word you know.

When are we going to change?

Okay, I agree this might be a grumpy man’s post. Maybe not.

I confess that I’m just tired of the same s*** on internet. Posts and more posts making fun of bass players’ wives/girlfriends. I’m tired of scrolling my Instagram feed and finding memes of a women complaining that their partners bought a new bass. I’m tired of getting memes on my Whatsapp of women crying because their partners are not thinking on them. I’m tired of scrolling my Facebook page and finding the same s*** all the time. When are we going to change?

Okay, I might be grumpy. I know. All those memes are funny.

I truth that you, people who post and share those memes, are good guys. I agree that those memes are just jokes and they do not reflect your own believes. I truth that you are just sharing this type of content because social media sites are places to have fun.

Okay, I might be grumpy. Maybe not.

Have you ever realized that you can be contributing to destroy women’s strengths when posting/sharing those kind of memes? Have you ever realized that, although you are just kidding and you actually don’t believe on what is written on the memes, you are hurting someone?

“He does not answer me. He might be with another woman.” “I need to nail this solo.” To me, this meme just says women are always afraid of adulterous relationships.


“If I buy a new bass, she will divorce me. I will say it is the church’s bass, lol” If you imagine a woman saying the same words, it would sound totally nonsense.


“Did you say perfection?” I have never seen this kind of comment on a male bass player’s picture. It seem her beauty surpasses her musicality.


“Is he thinking on me?” “Should I buy a new set of strings or a new bass?” Again, stating that women only think of love.

I confess that 15 or 20 years ago I would be the guy who shares those memes. I changed my mind when I watched the video below in a course during my undergraduate at Universidade de Brasília. Watching this video made me realize that every single word used to depreciate someone regarding their gender, race, origin, social condition, religion or any other segregating classification hurts their self esteem even without any intend. On the day I watched the video below, I erased all those kind of jokes from my vocabulary and started to realize how violent they are.


Okay, someone can argue that the video above is related to a racial issue that happened in the United States during a specific period and that it does not relates to husband/wife relationship. Really? Please, watch the video below.

Yes, my friend. I might not be that grumpy man.

Like it or not, the truth is that all those “funny” memes hurt someone’s self esteem. They can annihilate women’s strengths in a level that they can never recover again. Let’s change?





Quatro is my fourth album. Recorded in 2016, it is the most dense album I have so far and it shows how my influences have evolved over time.

All the previous albums are rooted in Brazilian music and Quatro shows a change on my influences. It still has the Brazilian music roots, but I also travelled to another places.

The compositions have long forms and I spent more time developing the ideas before bringing new ones. The jazz, the samba, the xote, the straight eight-note groove, odd meters, etc., all these things you will find in Quatro.


Featured tracks


The opening track Hope is based on a melodic motif that I develop in several ways. There is also a second part, which is moody and slow and contrasts with the first melody. Because Hope has a long form, I split the solo between the bass and the piano. The different moods between the parts allowed me to have specific atmospheres for each soloist. I love this!


Moça bonita is a Brazilian rhythm called xote. Originated from the Northeastern part of the country, the region that I was born, it has the same swing subdivision as the jazz. Thus, I  decided to compose a bebop jazz melody and play it as a xote. The result was very interesting!



Why sometimes you should say nothing

Once I read a quote that meant a lot to me. In English, it goes “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, say nothing.” I can’t remember exactly when I read this quote, but I know it was during my teenage years. We know that teenage years is that time in our lives when we set our own rules, although later we realize that most of these rules falls apart because life is too diverse to fit into them. Fortunately, the rule “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, say nothing” has endured.

This rule has helped me a lot. It has helped me to keep both gossip and gossipers out of my life, to be more friendly, to be more empathetic, to get gigs (yes, once a friend told me I got a gig because of my silence about people’s life), and last but not least, to live in peace. I’m glad to have this rule in my life.

I know that it is a rule with limitations, especially when one has to criticize other’s work. Now comes the point I would like to make in this article. When you are talking about someone’s musical performance, are you honestly criticizing their work or just using your comments to massage your ego?

I started to think about this situation when listening to people commenting about other’s performance. In several situations I have noticed people adding the coordinating conjunction but in a particular manner. I have heard many comments like:

He/she sings well, but…

He/she has a good technique, but…

His/her concert was nice, but…

Although I have felt truth on many people’s words, I also have felt people using the coordinating conjunction but to counterbalance their own weaknesses. Better explaining, if I don’t have enough skills to develop a good melody on a solo, for example, and I watch a good improviser in a concert, I can try to find a weakness on their performance and put it into the same comment to nullify their skills. In other words, if I say “his solos are good, but his bass tone is terrible,” I might be saying that I have something better than him, therefore he is not that good musician or not better than me. I am using my comment to massage my ego.

If you are this kind of people, it might be a good idea to reconsider your behavior. To me, we become better musicians when we accept that we have weaknesses. They don’t make us worse because music is not competition. Not being able to do one thing is not a shame because we have plenty of other things that we can brightly do. Shame is to hide our weaknesses and not to work to overcome them. Shame is looking at someone’s performance and trying to find flaws to “justify” why we are not as good as we would like.

Think about it and, when appropriate, just say nothing.



Music for Events in Brasília and Region

Foto: Marcello Casal Jr

With 30 years experience providing music for a variety of events, the Hamilton Pinheiro Trio is one of the best options in Brasília and region. The group’s repertoire ranges from jazz to bossa nova and pop lounge music and sets just the right mood to your party. The group can play either instrumental music, or, if you desire, can add a vocalist.

Performing at weddings, corporate and embassy events, the Hamilton Pinheiro Trio has the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Palácio do Itamaraty, the Empresa Brasileira de Comunicação and the Associação Atlética Banco do Brasil as part of the its ever growing list of satisfied clients.



E-mail us for more information:





The basics to play Brazilian music


During the 20th century, Brazilian music gained worldwide recognition because of its syncopated rhythmic approach, singable melodies, well balanced harmonies and dances attached to its performances. Among countless musical genres that are part of Brazilian culture, Samba and Bossa Nova are ubiquitously the most known in the world, being played in almost all countries.

My experience in United States during my master’s in Jazz Performance has shown me some issues that non-Brazilian musicians face when playing Brazilian music. The main ones I could notice are lack of understanding of the rhythmic approach and lack of use of common Brazilian rhythmic figures. The first issue relates to how Brazilian musicians understand Samba’s and Bossa Nova’s main accents and the second one relates to the most common patterns played by an instrumentalist in a specific genre or style. In short, although syncopation is a strong characteristic of Brazilian music, there are some particular specificity in Brazilian culture that differs from other syncopated genres tagged as Latin music. This text will discuss the Brazilian music main accents.

At this point I will include the Choro, which is a less known Brazilian genre that precedes Samba and Bossa Nova, because they share several characteristics.

One of the similarities among Choro, Samba and Bossa Nova is the 2-feel with a slight accent on beat two. This accent can be related to the bass drums played at samba schools. As a general rule, the drum that plays on beat two is tuned at a lower pitch when compared to the drum that plays the beat one. The result is a natural accent on beat two. This accent also occurs on the pandeiro, which is the most common percussion instrument in a Choro ensemble, and less noticed on the drumset in a Bossa Nova ensemble.

Here I will point out the first main characteristic of Brazilian music which is the downbeat with accent on beat two. When playing a Choro, a Samba or a Bossa Nova, the musician must feel the downbeat and the accent on beat two. The amount of accent will vary according to the genre, being more prominent in Choros and Sambas and less noticed in Bossa Novas. Even if a particular rhythm does not have someone playing the beat one like the Partido Alto, the musician must feel the downbeat.

Try to hear the 2-feel and the accent on beat two in the following examples.

Samba –

Choro –

Bossa Nova –

Partido Alto groove –

The second main Brazilian music characteristic is what I call forward motion. The forward motion is the syncopation of the sixteenth notes* that brings a forward movement to Brazilian music. The general Brazilian music feel that one can hear in a Choros, Sambas or Bossa Novas will be the result of the downbeat and the forward motion.



The very last sixteenth note of a measure is what I call the sweet spot. It is the place where melody and harmony will hit most anticipations.

Bringing these ideas to an actual performance, here are the instruments roles:

  • Bass, bass drums and other low-pitch instruments will play mostly the downbeats
  • Comping instruments, melody and high-pitch percussion instruments (e.g., hi-hats, snare, etc.) will play the forward motion.

Check the following recording and listen to each instrument trying to find their roles in terms of downbeat and forward motion. In addition, try to hear anticipations in the sweet spot.


I know there is a ton of things to learn to play Brazilian music as we play in Brazil, but I hope this explanation gives you a good start.


Hamilton Pinheiro



* Brazilian music charts in Real Books and Fake Books are written in 4/4 time signature, but most Brazilian musicians prefer to write in 2/4. This means that the measure will be filled mostly with sixteenth notes.

Practicing with drone notes

Drone Note Image

Practicing with drone notes

Drone Note Image

Once, I brought to my bass teacher at University of Louisville, Chris Fitzgerald, a sketch of my ideas about setting a good practicing schedule. I am trying to find some basic principles about effective practice and my goal is to set a model of procedures that I can apply to any bass practicing situation, at any level. This specific subject will be covered in another text. While showing my findings to Chris, he took notes and pointed out some good stuff to consider. One of them was about practicing with drone notes.

The term drone became very popular lately because of the little airships that can carry video cameras and get nice aerial images. But the word drone means a steady and continuous sound. For practicing purposes, bass players with no frets on their instruments fingerboard (fretless and double bass) can use drone notes to work on intonation.

Before including practicing with drone notes on my research, I tried it for a little. At the very beginning, I noticed a huge difference. My intonation (I play the fretless bass) got way better and I could easily play without looking at the fingerboard (that is a thing that I must work on). I got more sensible to micro intonation variations and I got more confident on the results of my playing. That was amazing!

I know you can argue that playing or rehearsing with a live band or practicing with any other backing track would give me the same results, but, in these cases, there are several variables that can turn the practicing (or the performance) harder. Room’s acoustic, instruments balance, ambience noise, other instruments volume and intonation, etc. A drone note gives a steady and comfortable “pad” to work on intonation without any distraction.

Besides that, another thing that I figured out is that I could relate the sound of scales I was practicing to chords or keys. I know it is a little obvious, but, according to my practice schedule, I have a specific time to work on scales (technique practice) and another one to apply the scales of a chord progression (musical practice). The drone notes practicing made me relate scales and chords during my technique practice slot. Check the example below.

I was practicing the F melodic minor fingering on all fingerboard extension, aiming to apply it to the E7 altered chord. The obvious choice for the drone note would be the note F – the tonic of the scale. However, as my intention was the altered scale, I set E as the drone note. Thus, besides working on the fingering, I could relate the sound of the notes I was playing to the E7 altered chord.

You can apply the same idea to any other chord or scale. For example, if I worked on a Lydian dominant chord (4th mode of a melodic minor scale), when practicing F melodic minor, I would set Bb as the drone note. That is a very good way to work on intonation and having this new approach, fretted bass players can also benefit of the drone notes practicing.

If you want to practice with drone notes, I prepared a YouTube playlist with a chromatic scale drone notes. Just find the note you want work on and hit the play button.

See you on next text!!!!


Galinha Caipira Completa

One day, the cavaquinho player Márcio Marinho called me saying he wanted me to be the bassist of a quartet he was planning to set. I promptly accepted the invitation and we formed the Galinha Caipira Completa (Márcio Marinho – cavaquinho, Rafael dos Anjos, acoustic guitar, Hamilton Pinheiro – bass, Rafael dos Santos – drums).

The idea of the group was to play arrangements and original compositions with no limits to our creativity. We explored our musical strengths and influences and defined a new sound to the group’s instrumentation, which is normally attached to a choro group.

The Galinha Caipira Completa’s core was the Brazilian music, but we embodied several influences. The group could be easily tagged as a world music group instead of a Brazilian music one.

When working on the repertoire, the group’s dynamic was very fruitful because everybody contributed with ideas to finish the arrangements. We used to spend weeks on just one piece and the result was astonishing. A set of intricated arrangements and compositions.

One year after we formed the group we got a grant from the Brazilian Culture Ministry to record our first album named Galinha Caipira Completa.

The name of the group is kinda weird. It is a name of a traditional Brazilian dish. For around two months, we were unsuccessfully struggling to find a name for the group. We got in a situation that we had a concert booked in a jazz festival, but without a name to the group. One day, we decided to have a lunch to find a name. At the restaurant, the drummer Rafael dos Santos said “I will open the restaurant menu and I will find the perfect name for the group.” The first lunch dish was Galinha Caipira Completa.


Featured tracks


Mensageiro dos Ventos is a Rafael dos Anjos’ composition based on an ostinato guitar pattern. It has several parts, with different time signatures and textures. It is almost like a musical trip and I love this tune.

The bass solo was one of my biggest shots. It came out on the very first take we recorded. Although we tried another takes, no one got better than the first on.


Samba do Grande Amor is a Rafael dos Anjos’ arrangement of a Chico Buarque’s composition. The original composition is already complex, but Rafael went further. It is a very intricate arrangement, with complex chord changes and couterpoint melodies. The track’s climax is the solo section where each musician goes to different places having just the bass line to connect them.


Duo 13

In 2002, I played some gigs with a singer in a small touristic city nearby Brasília named Pirenópolis. The guitar player was Felix Junior, which I had known him a couple months before. We played some instrumental tunes at the beginning of the concert and we got amazed because we interacted pretty well since the very first tune.

I got really impressed because it seamed we could read one each other’s mind. I remember that, when playing a tune, I would think “it would be nice if we make a dynamic here” and Felix would play it without any notice.

On that weekend I invite him to form a duo. Because he plays 7-string guitar and I used to play a 6-string bass, the perfect name would be Duo 13.

We played together for 2 years before recording our album on 2007. Because we usually played with no rehearsals, we decided to keep the same idea for the album. Obviously, we rehearsed for the recording, especially because some tunes were challenging, but we left several spots unarranged to allow us to follow our instincts when playing.


Featured tracks



Salseira is a Felix Junior’s composition. Based on a salsa groove, it has an intricated and energetic melody that turns into a samba on the B part. I confess that I had to practice a lot to be able to play the melody with him. Especially the phrase right before the solo section. I have never played a phrase as complicated as that one.

For the solo section, we decided to dilute the groove and rebuilt it to reach the melody again. This brings a nice tension curve to the performance.


I composed Num Quarto Só at the same city Felix and I formed the Duo 13. I like to travel to Pirenópolis to rest for a little and once I decided to spend a whole week alone. Just me, my bass and my acoustic guitar. The melody came easily and I knew I would record it with Felix Junior.