Brazilian samba music culture

Brazilian samba music culture

Samba music is very heterogeneous and it's intricate to define. It is the outcome of a long simmering mix of separate tradition from the Portuguese songs, African rhythms, and the fast paced Indian ceremony approaching worldwide influences. In the start it was played only with drums and other bass beat instruments, but later the acoustic guitar and the small Brazilian guitar cavaquinho was added.

It is important to understand that what we in North America and Europe call samba is a very broad term that covers several diversified forms of music like samba-reggae, afro, bloc, maracatu and baio. The expression samba music is in Brazil often associated with the carnival music in Rio and to a small extent also Sao Paulo.

There exist many variegated types of samba music rhythms and samba dances. Samba is on the whole a musical composition made with binary and syncopated rhythms. In addition to the basic samba rhythm, all categories of samba rhythms are usually mixed together.

The samba music can be enthusiastic and harmonious at the same time. The oldest form of samba is partido alto. Other styles are bossa nova, balance, neo pagode, samba de breque, samba-cancao, samba-enredo, samba de gafieira and samba de roda. Samba de roda is a combination of samba and capoeira.


Samba Dance

Samba music has been danced in Brazil from the late 19th century. There is in fact a set of separate samba dances, instead of a single dance. The oldest samba dance is samba no pe, which mean foot samba. Samba no pe is a solo dance. A recent solo dance is samba axe that was created during the Brazilian carnival in 1992. Furthermore, there exist partner dances like samba de gafieira and samba pagode. The ballroom samba is a partner dance as well but it has little in common with the original Brazilian samba dance.

The popular samba music of today is influenced by the rhythms of jazz and Latin music. It is produced in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The music is lively and rapid with a sound linked to Rio's Carnival. The basic count is "1 and 2". There are many samba schools which all teach samba rhythms.

Samba music is a vibrant and colorful culture that is still altering. It is expressed in different ways in various parts of Brazil. There are many qualified musicians in Brazil like Martinho da Vila, Villa Lobos, Cartola, Edison Machado, Carmen Miranda, Pixinguinha and Walter Wanderley. Other famous players are Milton Banana, Ary Barroso, Bola Sete, Raul de Souza, Hermeto Pascoal and Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim. The famous song note one samba was made by Tom Jobim and Newton Mendonca. All these samba songwriters have music that could be downloaded at

by Robert Bloom

See also: The Instruments of Samba