Infobox Music genre
stylistic_origins=African and Portuguese music
cultural_origins=Early 20th century Rio de Janeiro
instruments=surdo, tan-tan, pandeiro, cavaco, violão, tamborim, cuíca, repinique, caixa, chocalho, agogô, apito, timbal, banjo
popularity=Much in Brazil, Japan and elsewhere, especially Africa, derivative bossa nova is internationally known
subgenrelist=List of samba genres
subgenres=Samba de breque - Samba-canção - Samba-enredo - Samba-pagode - Samba de roda
fusiongenres=Bossa nova - Fricote - Samba-reggae - Sambass (samba + drum'n'bass)

Samba (Audio|Br-Samba.ogg|pronunciation) is one of the most popular forms of music in Brazil. It is widely viewed as Brazil's national musical style.


The name "samba" likely comes from the Angolan semba (or "mesemba"), a type of ritual music, but this has been disputed. Portuguese ethnographer and folklorist Edmundo Correia Lopes talks about a dance from the Portuguese Guinea to which Brazilian people gave the name of samba, which would be, according to him, a very close relative to Brazilian samba.

According to "sambista" and samba studies academic Nei Lopes,

The origin of the term "samba" has always been connected to "semba", a Congo-Angolan style of dance characterized by the bellybutton-bump with which the gentleman distinguishes the lady, gesture which was reenacted in old Afro-Brazilian dances. However, much more than bellybutton, the multilingual African term "semba" also means "pleasing, enchanting" (in Kimbundo), besides "honoring, revering" (in Kikongo). From semba originate "disemba" and "masemba" which then yes, mean bellybutton-bump, respectively in Angolan Kimbundo and in Kikongo.

Nei Lopes also points out it should be observed that the bellybutton-bumpy trump, much more than the "gross representation of the sexual act" as was pointed out by Portuguese missionaries of the colonial times, represented an affability, an act of seduction and a reverence from the man towards the woman.

"Samba" is also a surname among the people of the Wolof nation who primarily live in the Senegambia Fact|date=April 2007


amba origins

The origin of samba is from an Afro-American couple dance, including capoeira, which was imported from certain circle dances that originated from Angola and the Congo. Characteristic of the umbigada or folk samba is the way the couples dance navel to navel. In its origins, singing always accompanied the dancing. citation
author= Gerard Béhague
url =
source = Grove Music Onlineed. L. Macy
accessdate =
] Just as important is influence from Portugal and Europe, from where come samba's relatively intricate harmonies and harmonic instrumentation.

Samba first appeared as a distinctive kind of music at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio de Janeiro (then the capital of Brazil) under the strong influence of immigrant black people from the Brazilian state of Bahia.cite web
title = Samba, A música brasileira em sua essência
url= |accessdate=2008-08-23
(Google translation|en|pt| ] The title "samba school" ("escola de samba") originates from samba's formative years. The term was adopted by larger groups of samba performers in an attempt to lend acceptance to samba and its performance; local campuses were often the practice/performance grounds for these musicians and these "escolas" gave early performers a sense of legitimacy and organization to offset samba's somewhat controversial social atmosphere.

Despite some similarities, jazz and samba have distinctively different origins and line of development - one of the factors which adds to this is that Brazilian slave owners allowed their slaves to continue their heritage of playing drums (unlike U.S. slave owners who feared use of the drum for communications).

"Pelo Telefone" (1917), by Donga and Mauro Almeida, is generally considered the first samba recording. Its great success carried the new genre outside the black "favelas". Who created the music is uncertain, but it was likely the work of the group around Tia Ciata, among them Pixinguinha and João da Bahiana.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and is the birth place of the Samba. Much of the music in the heavily populated coastal areas shows a remarkable combination of African, Native Indian, and Iberian influences.

Modern Samba was developed from an earlier Brazilian musical style called "Choro". Both Samba the dance and music can take many forms, from the vivacious call response of samba de enredo, the music of Carnaval to "samba-canção" or song samba, a more relaxed guitar and rhythm variant. Bossa Nova, which translates to New Wave, hit America big time in the Sixties with "The Girl From Ipanema". This song by the legendary composer Antonio Carlos Jobim became a classic in jazz and elevator music.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese discovered on the east coast of South America, a place they called the January River (Rio de Janeiro). Colonists soon settled and as the colony prospered, slaves were brought from south-west Africa to work in the plantations of Bahia, in the north-east of what became Brazil.

To adherents of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomble, Samba means to pray, to invoke your personal "orixa" (god/saint). The African rhythms enveloped in Latino music came from the Yoruba, Congo and other West African people, who were transported to the New World as slaves. In their homeland the rhythms were used to call forth various gods. Candomble preserves these rhythms to this day! It is these rhythms that has heavily influenced Brazilian music making Samba a unique genre of music. [ [ Paul F. Clifford, "Background to Samba"] .]

its music

amba in the 1960's

In the 1960s, Brazil became politically divided with the arrival of a military dictatorship, and the leftist musicians of bossa nova started to gather attention to the music made in the" favelas". Many popular artists were discovered at this time. Names like Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho & Guilherme de Brito, Velha Guarda da Portela, Zé Keti, and Clementina de Jesus recorded their first albums.

amba in the 1970's

In the 1970s, samba returned strongly to the air waves with composers and singers like Paulinho da Viola, Martinho da Vila, Clara Nunes, and Beth Carvalho dominating the hit parade. Great samba lyricists like Paulo César Pinheiro (especially in the praised partnership with João Nogueira) and Aldir Blanc started to appear around that time.

amba from 1980 to present

In the early 1980s, after having been eclipsed by the popularity of disco and Brazilian rock, Samba reappeared in the media with a musical movement created in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. It was the "pagode", a renewed samba, with new instruments – like the banjo and the tan-tan – and a new language that reflected the way that many people actually spoke with the inclusion of heavy "gíria" (slang). The most popular artists were Zeca Pagodinho, Almir Guineto, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Jorge Aragão, and Jovelina Pérola Negra.cite web
title = Pagode, O samba que vem do fundo do quintal
url= |accessdate=2008-08-23
(Google translation|en|pt|] .

Samba, as a result, morphed during this period, embracing types of music that were growing popular in the Caribbean such as rap, reggae, and rock. Examples of Samba fusions with popular Caribbean music is samba-rap, samba-rock and samba-reggae, all of which were efforts to not only entertain, but to unify all Blacks throughout the Americas culturally and politically, through song. In other words, samba-rap and the like, often carried lyrics that encouraged Black pride, and spoke out against social injustices. ["The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music" "Latin American Music Review" 27, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2006).] Samba, however, is not accepted by all as the national music of Brazil, or as a valuable art form. What appears to be new is the local response flow, in that instead of simply assimilating outside influences into a local genre or movement, the presence of foreign genres is acknowledged as part of the local scene: samba-rock, samba-rap. But this acknowledgment does not imply mere imitation of the foreign models or, for that matter, passive consumption by national audiences. Light-skinned, "upper-class," Brazilians often associated Samba with dark-skinned blacks because of its arrival from West Africa. As a result, there are some light-skinned Brazilians who claim that samba is the music of low-class, dark-skinned, Brazilians and, therefore, is a "...thing of bums and bandits." [R.J.'s Gringo Guides, [ "The Roots of Racism in Samba in Brazil"] , retrieved 14 Feb 2008.]

Samba continued to act as a unifying agent during the 1990s, when Rio stood as a national Brazilian symbol. Even though it was not the capital city, Rio acted as a Brazilian unifier, and the fact that samba originated in Rio helped the unification process. In 1994, the World Cup had its own samba composed for the occasion, "Copa 94." The 1994 FIFA World Cup, in which samba played a major cultural role, holds the record for highest attendance in World Cup history. Samba is thought to be able to unify because individuals participate in it regardless of social or ethnic group. Today, samba is viewed as perhaps the only uniting factor in a country fragmented by political division [Behague, Gerard. "Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music )." Latin American Music Review 27, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2006).]

The Afro-Brazilians played a significant role in the development of the samba over time. This change in the samba was an integral part of Brazilian nationalism, which was called "Brazilianism".

"What appears to be new is the local responseto that flow, in that instead of simply assimilating outside influencesinto a local genre or movement, the presence of foreign genres is acknowledgedas part of the local scene: samba-rock, samba-reggae, samba-rap.But this acknowledgment does not imply mere imitation of the foreignmodels or, for that matter, passive consumption by national audiences." — Gerard BéhagueSelected Reports in Ethnomusicology ) Pg. 84

amba in Japan

Samba is extremely popular in Japan, especially in its more traditional forms; so much that some "sambistas" like Nelson Sargento, Monarco, and Wilson Moreira have recorded specifically for the Japanese market and frequently tour the country.


Common samba

Samba is characterized by a syncopated 2/4 rhythm with a muted beat and a main beat, usually played by a surdo (bass drum) or tan-tan (tall hand drum). Another important element is the cavaquinho, also known as "cavaco" (a small, four-stringed instrument of the guitar family, brought by the Portuguese; Hawaiian ukulele is a derivative). The cavaquinho is the connection between the harmony section and the rhythm section; its presence usually differentiates samba from softer variations such as bossa nova (although some samba recordings do not use the cavaquinho, including many by Chico Buarque).

The pandeiro (tamborine drum) is the most present percussive instrument, the one whose beat is the most "complete". A "violão" (acoustic guitar) is usually present, and its presence in samba popularized the seven-string variation because of the highly sophisticated counterpoint lines used in the genre in the lower pitched strings. Samba lyrics range from love songs, through "futebol" (soccer), to politics and many other subjects. This subgenre supersets all others.

Famous artists who play "common samba" include Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola, Zeca Pagodinho, Wilson Moreira, Teresa Cristina & Grupo Semente.

Partido alto

"Partido alto" is used to name a type of samba which is characterized by a highly percussive pandeiro beat, with use of the palm of the hand in the center of the instrument for snaps. [cite book| last =Almeida da Anunciação| first =Luiz| authorlink =| coauthors =|title =A Percussão dos Ritmos Brasileiros - Sua Técnica e Sua Escrita - Caderno 2 - O Pandeiro Estilo Brasileiro| publisher =EBM/Europa| date = | location =Rio de Janeiro| pages =106| url =| doi =| id =|language=pt] Partido alto harmony is always in a major key. Usually played by a set of percussion instruments (surdo, pandeiro, tamborim) and accompanied by cavaquinho and/or "violão". It is commonly divided in two parts, a chorus and the verses. "Partideiros" (partido alto musicians) often improvise on the verses, with disputes being common, and highly skilled improvisers have made their fame and career on samba, such as Zeca Pagodinho.

Famous partido alto artists include Candeia, Jovelina Pérola Negra, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Zeca Pagodinho, and Bezerra da Silva.


"Pagode" is the most widespread form of samba in Brazil. It started as a movement in the 1980s when three new instruments were introduced with the group Grupo Fundo de Quintal and others at Cacique de Ramos: the tan-tan, a more dynamic and cooler dudesurdo, the banjo, with the same dimensions and tuning as the cavaquinho, and the "repique de mão" ("ringing of the hands"), an instrument derived from the "repique de anel", based on the samba enredo repiniques and commonly used for percussive turnarounds. Usually sung by one singer and accompanied by cavaco, violão and at least one pandeiro, pagode is sung at most parties and informal meetings, being universally found at open-air bars and cafés. Lyrics are playful, usually around love engagement or some funny stunt.

Famous pagode artists include Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Leci Brandão, Jorge Aragão, Almir Guineto and Zeca Pagodinho.

Pagode romântico

Pagode romântico is a newer manifestation of pagode that keeps the same rhythm of the traditional Pagode but includes a more romantic melody often frowned upon by the most serious "sambistas", and considered to have started gaining momentum in the capitol city São Paulo. It has strong use of what many consider love lyrics, and the way of singing changed to a more delicate, sensually appealing tone, although artists who perform these songs sometimes sing some more traditional sambas in between, too. It became very popular among lower classes and somewhat popular among the urban middle classes in Brazil. In the new millennium, neo-pagode has diminished in popularity, though it still receives some airplay. Today, both styles of Pagode are popular together.

Famous artists associated with pagode romântico include Exaltasamba, Raça Negra, Katinguelê, Turma do Pagode, Karametade and Kiloucura.


The now "umbrella" term pagode is also used to label a derivative developed in the northeastern state of Bahia in the 90s. This newer music uses either stronger sexually appealing lyrics or childish lyrics. Some groups were considered a sign of decadence for Brazilian music by many.Fact|date=November 2007 This third style presents some other influences such as "Samba duro", "Samba-de-roda".

Famous neo-pagode artists include: É o Tchan, Gera Samba, Harmonia do Samba, Swing e Simpatia, and Terra Samba.

amba de breque

A now defunct type of samba that had as a distinctive feature being interpolated with spoken parts, often dialogues is called "samba de breque". Singers had to have an excellent vocal gift, as well as ability to make different voices. Lyrics usually told stories and were funny. "Breque" does not mean "to break", it was the old Brazilian slang for "brake" because the songs featured many "stops".

Famous artists: Moreira da Silva


Radio-friendly romantic and slower variation of the rhythm, samba-canção was mostly the Brazilian counterpart to popular Latin American rhythms like Tango or Bolero, both very popular in Brazil until the 1960s. This style of samba also received a lot the influences of the American ballad from 1950 to 1990. Themes ranged from lyrical to tragical.

Famous artists: Ângela Maria, Maysa, Nélson Gonçalves, Cauby Peixoto, Lindomar Castilho, Jamelão and Agnaldo Rayol.


A "samba-enredo" is a song performed by a samba school in Rio de Janeiro during its yearly Carnival parade. The term also refers to particular style of samba music typical of such songs. Samba-enredo is well known internationally due to Rio de Janeiro's longstanding status as a major tourist destination during Carnival and to the fact that many percussion groups have formed around the world inspired by this type of samba.

Sambas-enredo are recorded and played on the radio during the period leading up to Carnival. They are generally performed by male vocalists accompanied by cavaquinho and a large "bateria" (percussion group) producing a dense, complex texture known as "batucada". They heavily emphasize the second count of the measure driven by the bass notes of the surdo drums.

Rio de Janeiro's baterias have provided inspiration for the formation of percussion groups around the world, especially in Western countries. These groups generally do not use vocals or cavaquinho, focusing instead on percussion grooves and numerous breaks. These groups operate year round, unlike in Brazil where activity is now confined to the months preceding Carnaval.

Samba-enredo in Brazil used to be played year-round, though often as an exercise on virtuosity.

Famous artists: Neguinho da Beija Flor, Jamelão, Martinho da Vila.

amba de Gafieira

"Samba de Gafieira" is a lively, big band-influenced jazz dance of the pre-bossa nova nightclubs, and is one of Brazil's least well-known styles because it was eclipsed by the suave glamour of the bossa nova crowd and the various waves of rock and samba crossovers that followed. "Gafieiras" were dancehalls, homes to dancers and dance bands, and, in the best Brazilian tradition, many of the best bandleaders, such as Severino Araujo, Radamés Gnattali and Zacharias, drew on many sources to craft their music. They played the kinetic frevo and choro styles, incorporated the muscularity and elegance of North American swing, and eventually gave in to the wave of mellower pop instrumentals and vocal music of the so-called "radio singers" era.

Other variants

*Bossa nova ("new beat") is essentially a type of samba, played with jazz instruments and sung with softer voices.
*Samba-Reggae, a new type of samba from Bahia (from 2001 onwards). The rhythm is influenced by Reggaeton, Calypso and Latin melodies.
*Samba de Roda is a ritual dance preserved in some Bahian towns. It usually refers to Samba being performed in a capoeira roda (roda refers to the formation of the "capoeiristas", or capoeira players, in a circle)
*Samba-exaltação ("exaltation Samba") is a subgenre inaugurated by Ary Barroso's popular song "Aquarela do Brasil".

Other forms

Many Brazilian singers eventually recorded samba, though they were not faithful to the original character of the genre. Jorge Ben Jor for instance mixed samba with rock, funk and jazz and composed songs dealing with unusual themes, like esoterism ("Os Alquimistas Estão Chegando", "The Alchemists are Coming") or history of India ("Taj Mahal").

See also

*Noel Rosa
*Partido Alto
*Carmen Miranda
*Adoniran Barbosa
*List of English words of African origin

References and notes

*"The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil." by McGowan, Chris and Pessanha, Ricardo. 2nd edition. Temple University Press. 1998.
* " [ Samba on Your Feet] " documentary by Eduardo Montes-Bradley on the history of samba in Brazil with particular emphasis in Rio de Janeiro. The film is in Portuguese with English subtitles and approaches the subject from an interesting perspective.

External links

* [ ] All Brazilian percussion instruments to play Samba
* [ Brazilian Beats] Fansite for Brazilian Beats Series of classic and modern Samba Fusions
* [ All Brazilian Music samba page]
* [ One of the first formal samba definition (1997)]
* [ Loronix] is the largest virtual community around the Brazilian music on the Internet.
* [ Dance Samba Spain (Madrid) - ]
* [ Samba from the Favelas] , some podcasts from 'RadioFavela - The Sound of Rio'
* [ Legran Orchestra "Aquarela do Brazil" Samba Mp3· ]
* [ Die Samba Show] ISWC T-0425394804 "Latin Complete Collection" Album. "Published with the permission of the owner of rights"

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