Brazil Mystery #2 – The strange sound-car – SOLVED!

Image source

One of the irritating parts about life in Brazil is the existence of carros-som (“sound-cars”), which drive around with speakers strapped to their roofs, blasting advertisements for local stores, bands, or politicians up for re-election.

There’s one in particular that seems to park right outside the building where I give my lunch hour English class, radiating sound waves of extremely annoying “romantic” music and hawking the singer’s CD. Seemingly always on the days when we’re doing listening practice, too.

But there was one sound-car that passed frequently through my neighborhood, whose message I couldn’t identify. It played this weird, pseudo-soothing elevator music, punctuated by some sort of horn or alarm. No words, no ads, just the bizarre music arising out of nowhere and always fading into the distance before I could make it to the balcony in time to see what the heck it was.

One day, while walking home from work, this very sound-car passed me! It’s the Ultragaz truck, driving through the neighborhood and announcing its presence in case anybody needs a new gas tank for their stove. Brasilgas and other companies simply have the driver yell “GAS!!!! GAS!!!” as he goes through the neighborhood, but I guess this company decided to innovate and add a little musiquinha.ย Mystery solved!

I am so glad some Brazilian already filmed this and put it on YouTube so that I don’t have to embarrass myself by running after the truck with a camera:

  • I heard this truck when we were in Brazil! Whoever took this video could use some lessons on how to hold a camcorder.

  • Mmmm, it is quite soothing isn’t it? You should hear the awful noise that the SuperGasBras truck makes outside my window *every* weekday morning… Either way, it’s always nice to clear up a mystery like this isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Shayna

      Indeed! I’m hoping that some of the more experienced Brazil bloggers can help me clear up the unsolved ones ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hahaha! I love it! In my neighborhood in Istanbul, the gas people came through and had a little musical number like the one you describe then said “Aygaz” (the name of the comapny) in a beautifully musical way. It wasn’t annoying at all.

    Somehow, I got it in my head that this was the sound for the ice cream truck. I was not making the right connections, obviously. They didn’t even HAVE ice cream in Istanbul.

    So, I walked around talking to the kids in the ‘hood, humming and singing that little jingle- asking the kids to help me get ice cream. It was so confusing, and really one of my happiest memories! These adorable little kids, the girls still quite free because they were 7 (and pre-hijab still) fascinated by “The American” in the neighborhood, asking for ice cream from the gas truck!

    • Shayna

      Yes!! It is kind of reminiscent of an ice cream truck, LOL. That’s too funny!

    • HA. I hadn’t read your comment before I wrote mine, but we had the same problem with the gas truck sounding like an ice cream truck in Angra.

  • Haha! I remember those gas trucks from a summer I spent in Ubatuba. They would always piss me off because they came by whenever my baby was sleeping. There are some benefits to being in a town of 5000 people–NO sound trucks!!

    • Shayna

      I think I need to move to a small town! For the entire day, I’ve been trying to find 5 MINUTES of silence so that I can make a recording for an English lesson – and it’s been impossible! Cars passing, dogs barking, people shouting, gas trucks passing, motorcycle revving, low-flying planes, car alarms, ARGH!

  • Haha, I used to wonder about that one, too! It is kind of strange sounding. I can hear it playing right this very second, as I type – the truck must be near. Here, no one yells – you call for delivery or the truck passes playing music. (Or you have a huge tank and don’t need deliveries.) But there must be competing companies – the other one happens to use Fur Elise as its jingle. I guarantee it – if you play the tune for any Sรฃo Paulo kid, you will get exclamations of “a musiquinha do gรกs!” Beethoven must be rolling over in his grave….;)

  • It sounds like the truck dropped acid.

  • rgcalsaverini

    Hehehe It’s just hilarious to read about something so natural to you in such an investigative way… Yeah, ultragas trucks play this song all over Brazil for as long as I can remember (which might not be that much… But anyway…).
    And it does have lyrics, hehehe listen closely the next time =)

    • Shayna

      Lyrics – what??? Please do enlighten me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Those used to drive me crazy!! It doesn’t happen here in Sao Paulo, at least not where I live. But in Rio I used to hear it all the time!! Finally, I found out it was either some guy collecting pans or the gas truck.
    In Angra, the gas truck sounds like an ice cream truck, so my poor daughter ran out of the house where we were staying thinking she was going to get an ice cream cone, but all they had were tanks of gas. ๐Ÿ™

    • Shayna

      A tank of gas is just not nearly as enjoyable as an ice cream cone! Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ice cream truck here. I see individual vendors pushing carts, but no truck…