The Music of Brazil: Samba and Cultural Expression

The musics of Brazil are as socially diverse and culturally mixed as its people. Yet, out of this assembly, sambain particular has emerged as a national cultural expression. Its combination of heterogeneous musical and cultural influences has enabled it to symbolise the buoyant diversity of the country itself. Samba is enacted most spectacularly in the Brazilian Carnival celebrations, which have captured the global imagination in its pulsating rhythms, its decadent revelry, its extroverted performativity and its extravagant exhibitionism. In the context of ‘World Music’, samba offers a powerful fusion of rhythm, dance and spectacle and, beyond its popularity on record and in performance, samba has become a staple popular music for parades, processions and even protest marches around the globe.

Country Profile

Brazil, or República Federativa do Brasil (in Portuguese), is located in eastern and central South America. Encompassing around half of the continent’s landmass with a population of over 200 million, it is the fifth largest country by area and by population in the world. It is divided into five major regions but its tropical and subtropical climate means that most of the population are concentrated along the eastern coastline, where there are many iconic coastal cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The official and universal language is Portuguese, except amongst indigenous communities along the Amazon Basin who speak around 150 discrete languages. Due to Portuguese policies of tolerance and assimilation, around 45% of the population are mixed race, identifying as mulattoes (people of mixed African and European ancestry) or mestizos (people of mixed European and indigenous ancestry). Although the remainder of the population are purely black or indigenous (7%) or Lusitanian or other European (48%), Brazil’s sizeable mixed race populations sets it apart from other postcolonial nations in Latin America. The dominant religion in Brazil is Roman Catholicism, although it has had no official religion since the founding of the republic (1889), but it also has a large Protestant population, a significant following for syncretic candomblé(African-derived spiritual sects) and small Eastern Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim and Jewish minorities. A major world economy, Brazil is highly industrialised, with an urban population of more than 85% that is continuing to grow at a rate of around 1%.

Cultural History

Pre-colonial Brazil comprised diverse tribes (chiefly, the Tupi, Arawak, Carib and Gê), with a plethora of languages and cultures, who occupied the region for thousands of years. However, they were primarily nomadic groups with oral cultures and so, unlike the Maya or Inca civilisations, made little permanent impact on the physical landscape of Brazil. Most of their indigenous culture was lost through acculturation by missionaries and enslavement by colonial invaders, though traces of their traditional practices have been maintained through syncretic cultural forms and amongst living indigenous communities themselves. The settlement of Brazil by Portugal was driven by Papal direction through the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494): aiming to avoid conflict between Portuguese and Spanish expansionists, the Pope drew a line between them in the mid-Atlantic. Portuguese explorers headed for India via the trade winds around Africa but, en route, Pedro Álvares de Cabral ‘discovered’ the coast of Brazil to the east of the treaty line and so was able to claim it for the Portuguese crown, naming itVera Cruz(‘True Cross’)(1500). Jesuit missionaries flocked to this new ‘discovery’ to set up ‘reductions’ (mission camps), where indigenous populations were forcibly converted and domesticated into Jesuit culture and religion. The Jesuits disregarded the Tordesillas demarcation line, expanding their influence, and Brazil itself, far westwards up the Amazon River. Unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese settlers did not have the population to support full colonisation, and Portugal was prioritising its resources for expanding into India and the Spice Islands, so they only set up barrios (small scattered communities) which focused on trade, agriculture and sugar plantations. Enamoured by the Brazil wood tree, a valuable source of red dye, they renamed the territory after it. As their settlements expanded and their trade activities grew, with a mini gold rush in the 1690s, Portuguese colonists arrived to fully establish the territory (17thC-18th): they imported slaves from Africa into the colony and, to appease their Papal patrons, expelled the Jesuits and enlarged the presence of the Roman Catholic Church, for example by setting up irmandades (lay brotherhoods) in urban centres that essentially merged religion into all aspects of social and cultural life.

Following the invasion of Portugal in the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), the Prince Regent Dom João and the court administration of the Portuguese Empire itself were temporarily moved to Rio de Janeiro. When the threat subsided and the capital was moved back to Lisbon (1821), the Regent’s son, Dom Pedro, was left in charge of the colony and subsequently declared independence (1822), instituted the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889) and developed a lucrative coffee industry. When slavery was abolished (1888), the coffee magnates backed a mass coup (1889) and, though they founded an independent Federal Republic of Brazil, they ruled it as a tycoonocracy until a military coup, led by Eduardo Vargas, took over and imposed a martial regime. Amid rising unrest, power was ceded to the people, paving the way for a truly sovereign civil democracy (1985). Brazil then experienced rapid growth, mainly driven by its rich natural resources. However, by accelerating mining and the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, this growth has had high environmental costs, and Brazil now sits in a troubled economic and political climate, with a sudden economic slowdown, rising inflation, unemployment and inequality (20% live in favelas (slums)), growing ethnic strife from clear correlations between racial, social and economic hardships and a return to wider political disenfranchisement and civil unrest.

Music Culture

Blurred Lines

The history of traditional music in Brazil is one of persistent blurred lines: between sacred and profane; between rural and urban; between Indigenous, Luso-Hispanic and African; and between traditional, art and popular musics. Yet, it is the interactions between these diverse cultures and the synthesis of their distinct musical practices that produced the syncretic musics, most of all samba, that ascended to embody modern Brazil.

Pre-Mix: Indigenous, Luso-Hispanic and African Traditions

Historically, the traditional (pre-mixed) musics of Brazil reflect its three major ethnic groupings: musics of the indigenous population; musics of the Luso-Hispanic settlers and colonists; and musics of the African slaves.

The Jesuit missions and Portuguese colonisation resulted in the devastation of much indigenous culture. In the Jesuit ‘reductions’ and the barrios established by the Portuguese settlers, indigenous culture was deemed ‘savage’ and so indigenous populations faced indoctrination and cultural suppression. In fact, Christian music was employed by the Jesuits as a tool of conversion: priests performed Catholicautos (morality plays) for the indigenous populace and taught native musicians to sing Christian songs in Latin and Portuguese and how to make and play European string, woodwind and keyboard instruments. Impressed by their talents in music and craft, the priests even enlisted musicians to sing and play for their autos, which, poignantly, intensified the process of indoctrination further and thus deepened the depth of indigenous culture loss.

Despite this, neither the Jesuit missionaries nor the Portuguese settlers acted in a way that resulted in the total annihilation of the indigenous people or their culture (unlike in some Spanish colonies of South America and the Caribbean) and thus there is some knowledge of historical indigenous musical practices. Sizeable indigenous communities still maintain their own living musical traditions today, though the music of most of these groups is yet to be systematically studied. General trends include the dominance of song, the use of curative, festive and war dances, the use of a huge diversity of flutes and rattles and the cultural significance of music in social, ritual and spiritual life. For example, in the culture of the Suyáof the High Xingu, song and speech are deeply intertwined, and singing features not only in ngére (song) but also in sangére (spiritual invocation), sarén (educative instruction) and kepérni (speech). Ngére has the greatest emphasis on melodic creativity, but sung melody has an important place in all of these cultural activities. As such, vocality is more than central in all major aspects of the cultural, social and spiritual life of the Suyá; it is considered the very essence of existence.

Other indigenous groups even developed syncretic fusions of indigenous and Christian cultural practices. The indigenous Tupinambáworkforce of central Brazil, who faced less cultural suppression because of the weaker presence of the Church in their barrios, fused their brão (riddles), sung as work songs for enjoyment, education and communication, and their responsorial chanting, fixed percussive rhythms on rattles and flutes and hopping and stamping dance choreography into Christian song forms. This produced a syncretic tradition that is particularly significant not only in that it survived inculcation but also because it went on to influence the Luso-Hispanic traditions of the Portuguese settlers and subsequent mestizotraditions in the area, thus maintaining the presence of indigenous influences on later Brazilian musical forms.

Luso-Hispanic tradition made its home in Brazil in thebarrios of the early Portuguese settlers. The barrioswere socially stratified, headed by the wealthy Portuguese landowners, followed by poor Portuguese labourers and then by the enslaved indigenous workers at the bottom (before the arrival of African slaves). The poor Portuguese labourers brought their traditional song and dances and adapted them to their new life in Vera Cruz. Songs featured typical Lusitanian musical traits, including plainsong-like recitation sung in unison (in Gregorian-derived modality) or arched melodies sung in duplas (parallel third/sixths where two voices are perceived as one in unity); rising disjunct leaps followed by conjunct descending motion with diatonic tonality; symmetrical song structures, strophic quatrains or décimaswith stanza-refrain alternation; triple (3/4) or compound (6/8 or 9/8) metres; elaborate vocal ornamentation; and the use of string instruments, especially the viola (a small Iberian lute variant with five double coursed metal strings in various sizes and tunings, not to be confused with the staple Western classical string instrument of the same name) for rasqueado(strummed) or punteando (plucked) accompaniment). Some songs bore direct cultural and religious significance, such as cyclical ritual songs (e.g. harvest songs sung to celebrate and give thanks for an abundant crop and velório (laments) to mourn the dead and help them enter heaven) and religious ritual songs (e.g. nativity songs sung at Christmas to recount the nativity story and celebrate the birth of Christ). Others were linked to work (e.g. aboios (cattle herding songs, sung de roça (as a responsorial duet to guide the herd in the fields) orde gado (as a soloistic lullaby to soothe the cattle in their pen)) or recreation (e.g. narrative romances which voice traditional poetic verse and desfiados (‘challenges’) which involve two singers competing in the art of textual and melodic improvisation). The religiosity of song intensified further as the full colonist forces arrived and founded the irmandades(lay brotherhoods), which reinforced the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and initiated new Catholic musical traditions, such as the folias de reis (polyphonic singing ensembles who travelled door-to-door to sing embryonic toadas (tunes) recounting the story of the Magi and collect donations to raise money for the Dia de los Reyes(Day of the Three Kings) festival). Yet, there was also a distinctively indigenised musical-spiritual aesthetic to these practices, most likely due to the involvement of indigenous musicians (as with the Jesuit autos), which led to the reimagining of saints and other legendary religious figures as outgoing lovers of music and dance. For instance, in the folias de reis, the Magi themselves were depicted as musicians who receive sacred instruments (a viola, an adufe (frame drum) and a caixa(Brazilian snare drum)) from the Virgin Mary and who, paralleling the group itself, spread the news of Jesus’s birth through song; and the cateretêdance (see below) and its music were used in a ritual to honour Saint Gonçalo of Amarante, a viola player famed for performing for prostitutes with such inspiring music and dance that he turned them from their life of sin.

Luso-Hispanic dance, on the other hand, was primarily recreational. Wealthy landowners took turns as festeiro (host) to put on a mutirão (communal dance party) for workers in the local area, at which they would participate in traditional group dances. The most prominent dance was the cateretê, a double line dance that fused Luso-Hispanic and indigenous elements in its narrative song, rasqueadostring accompaniment, indigenous idiophonic percussive accompaniment (e.g. guaiá (shaker), afoxé (rattle) and rêco rêco(scraper))) and hybrid escova (‘brush’) choreography (Luso-Hispanic circle dancing with indigenous idiosyncrasies e.g. hopping and stamping). Landowners supported Carnival celebrations for their peasant and mestizo/mulatto workers, with musical masquerades where normal class distinctions dissolved as the wealthy would dress up as commoners and the poor would perform processional song and instrumental performance dressed as nobility. In fact, Carnivalcelebrations became a competitive matter for landowners, a symbol of their benevolence towards their workforce entitling them to pride and prestige over their peers and, in the context of labour shortages, a means of attracting workers to their plantations. As a result, these Carnivalprocessions escalated into more and more elaborate spectacles and, even in this time, started to become renowned across the expanding Western world.

However, Luso-Hispanic ‘dramatic dances’ with specific devotional purposes were also common, such as the baile pastoril (Christmas folk dance-drama that re-enacted the nativity story) and the cheganças (a dance-drama symbolising the struggle between Christians and Moors featuring sung embaixadas (proclamations) between capitão (captain), ajudante (aide) and resposta (responder) to lead mock sword fighting by soldados (soldiers) to loud percussive music).

As black slaves were transported into the Portuguese colony to work on coffee plantations, they brought with them their African-derived (mainly Bantu, Yoruba and Congo) traditions. Through forced conversion and cultural adaptation, their traditions quickly syncretised into distinct Afro-Brazilian song and dance practices. The candomblé (African-derived spiritual sects) are vast and diverse, but most worship variations of the orixás(‘powers’; spirit deities) and common devotional practices include monophonic responsorial pentatonic singing, polyrhythmic and interlocking drumming rhythms (often atabaques (tall hand-struck barrel drums), agogo (metal cowbell) and rattles) and the use of specific rhythms and chants to ‘call’ on orixás to ‘possess’ mediums for spirit possession ceremonies. With certain functional exceptions (e.g. agricultural work songs and martial arts-based stick-fighting dances like the capoeira and maculelê), social and recreational musics featured song, dance and drumming in inseparable unity. The most common dances (which had a huge variety of different names and variations) included the batuqueand the côco. Dominant in the centre and south, the batuque, which with varying Angolese and Congolese influences, is danced in umbigada position (from the Portuguese, ‘navel’; couples dance with touching navels), and most couplets dance set patterns alongside one another in a line while a few solo couples improvise more virtuoso movements. The singing comprises improvised verses and responsorial refrains which either focus on community gossip or voice ridicule, comment and challenges while the drumming features percussive interlocking rhythms from the tambu (large cylindrical single-headed drum), quinjengue (a smaller cylindrical single-headed drum) and rattles (e.g. matraca). In the north, the côcofeatures perpetual rhythm (constant semiquavers in 2/4 metre), maintained by cupped hand clapping (imitating the sound of coconut shells) and sometimes punctuated by drums or rattles. This forms the basis for circle ‘dance games’, where soloists enter a circle of moving participants to improvise virtuoso dance moves and sing improvised calls that elicit sung responses from the circle, with refrain links sung by the whole circle as the soloist steps out until a new soloist steps in.

Re-mix: Syncretism & Samba

Over time, these three stands of indigenous, Luso-Hispanic and African song, music and dance traditions started to mix together into syncretic traditional/art/popular musics that, eventually, gave birth to samba(not to be confused with the US ballroom dance which draws only modest influences from the Brazilian genre).

Syncretic forms emerged in the mineiros (mining communities) and in themutirãos (rural barrio work parties). Once frontiersmen struck gold away from the coast, mineiroswere established in the interior of Brazil and, for a time, ascended as thriving urban cultural centres. Liturgical art music flourished in these locales, pioneered by free mestizos who combined Western sacred and art musics with indigenous influences leading, quite literally, to a ‘golden’ age for Brazilian classical music, with pieces produced by composers including José Joaquim Emérico Lobo de Mesquita, Marcos Coelho Netto, Francisco Gomes da Rocha and Ignácio Parreiras Neves. When the mining boom ended and the coffee industry took off, these communities moved back to Rio de Janeiro, transforming it into the new urban cultural hub of the country. Composers developed new popular/art music forms like the controversialmodinhas, a romantic serenade style that created scandal for its sensual performance practices (e.g. singing to women in the audience in a direct and seductive manner) and, perhaps more so, for its integration of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian influences into European structures. The first known composer was Domingos Caldas Barbosa but José Maurício Nunes Garcia and AntônioCarlos Gomes really established the genre.


The status of these popular/art genres was consolidated by the arrival of Prince Regent Dom João who, evacuated to Rio from Portugal due to the threat of Napoleonic invasion, offered substantial patronage for these and other composers under the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889). His entourage also brought the latest European ballroom dances to Brazil and included composers like Francisco Manuel da Silva, who composed the piece that is now Brazil’s national anthem and Chiquinha Gonzaga, who overcame the prejudice against female composers to write compositions based around indigenous dances. She composed the march O abre alas! for the black Carnival society, Rosa de Ouro, for the Rio Carnival in 1899, the first Carnival dance to achieve national recognition and one which continued to symbolise the event for the following decades. These composers contributed a great deal of prolific music in art/popular genres by indigenising these dances, for instance transforming dances like the fandangoand polka into the maxixeand the tango brasileiro, fusion genres that exhibited clear African rhythmic impulses as well as Luso-Hispanic and other Latin American influences.

While all this new music was, at first, confined to the parlours of the elite upper classes, Rio’s middle-class bohemians, who had both the opportunity to hear this music and yet the ideological impulses to reject its elitism, made it popular by playing it in chorões(street ensembles who performed art/popular songs and dances accompanied by flutes (melody) and by guitar variants (mostly cavaquinhos (small four-stringed guitars) and violas)(harmony and bass)). They not only brought this music to the public but also transformed the music itself, adding fast tempos, vocal and instrumental virtuosity and greater performativity, and offered musical instruction to those who could not afford private tuition so that it could eventually be played by a wider, and more ethnically diverse, spread of the urban populace.

In the rural fazendas (coffee plantations) surrounding the urban centres, new cultural interactions between white peasants, mestizos,mulattos and black slaves started to initiate prototypal forms of Brazil’s most famous fusion form: samba. Syncretic Luso-Hispanic procedures (e.g. singing with strophic verses featuring arched melodies sung induplas) started to enter into the syncretic African-derived song-drumming-dance traditions. In this rural context, samba prototypesinvolved a range of different but related syncretic forms, chiefly the samba-lenço (in the central and southern regions), the samba campineiro (in the central areas around São Paulo) and the samba de roda (in the northern regions). Notable differences include the use of batuque-style umbigada dancing in the samba-lenço, the use of collective processional dancing and a standard idiomatic ostinato rhythm (which would become the characteristic Brazilian ‘samba’ rhythm) in the samba campineiro and the use of round dancing and virtuoso solo dancing in the samba de roda. Though black slaves were at first segregated at the mutirãos, confined to the senzalas(slave quarters) where they would perform their own traditional dances (e.g. the batuqueand the côco), landowners were soon compelled to treat their subjects more kindly due to dire labour shortages and so, towards the end of Portuguese colonial rule, started to relax these restrictions instigating these new exchanges.

With the abolition of slavery (1888) and the overthrowing of the Portuguese colonial administration (1889), freed black, mestizo and mulatto populations flocked into the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, falling into slums on the outskirts (which, in Rio, became known as the favelas, shanty town communities on the hills around the city). These early days of emancipation were oppressively stratified along racial and class lines: (white and some mestizo and mulatto) social elites were hauled up in their private salons with Brazilian art music; (black and some mulatto and mestizo) poor lower-class workers maintained their rural traditional musics; and the middle-class (white and somemestizo) identified with the chorões that performed art/popular musics featuring diverse traditional influences (especially the music of the new nationalist art/popular music composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, who himself had played in chorões). Yet, the favelasserved as a melting pot that furthered the mixing of Luso-Hispanic melody, vocality and performativity, African-derived rhythm, responsorial singing, dance and elements of indigenous choreography and instrumentation that constitute the modern urban samba. Indeed, samba encompasses a huge complex of genres, all with their own styles and functions, including samba rural (rural samba (see above)), samba de morro (hill samba(located in the favelas and highly percussive and polyrhythmic)), samba da cidade (citysamba(lush orchestral backing with reduced complexity of rhythms, imported to the USA as ballroom samba) and samba-canção (slow song-centric sambafocused on vocal melody and improvisation and texts on sadness, love, disillusion and betrayal). The most famous style emerged as the processional samba carnivalesca (Carnival-style samba), which developed in symbiosis with urban Carnival celebrations and, today, is the genre commonly referenced when simply using the term samba. ‘Pelo telephone’  (1917) by Ernesto ‘Donga’ dos Santos is regarded as the first ‘true’ samba record, though its sound, especially in its use of the cavaquinhofor the characteristic ‘samba’ rhythm, only faintly resembles the modern samba (carnivalesca). In its early days, exponents of samba faced censorship and harassment from the government, who were suspicious of it as a predominantly African-derived expressive practice that fostered black collective consciousness, and so police would often shut down local rodas de samba (‘samba sessions’) in the favelas.

However, the increasing use of samba at urban Carnival celebrations, notably for the massive celebrations in Rio, brought legitimacy to the practice. The festive black song and dance traditions of thecandomblé and the patronal Carnival masquerades of the countryside had exploded into extravagant mass spectacles in the cities after emancipation. They encompassed grand marches, parades, masquerades and processions featuring a dazzling array of presentational and participatory musical and artistic performances. During the early 20thC, samba, like the Carnival celebrations themselves, was repositioned as national culture, and thus was no longer engaged with exclusively by the lower classes; eventually all sections of society participated, especially during Carnival. The musical style of samba, in this stabilised modern urban carnivalesca form, features: alternation between short sections (‘calls’) of repeated, accented and syncopated isometric strikes and long sections (‘response’) of steady, processional fundamental rhythms in four/eight bar phrases in duple metre, often with strong anacrusis and a ‘lilt’ from slight (syncopated) delays in some parts, and elaborated on with polyrhythmic and interlocking rhythms in the foreground; singing with strophic verses (often arched melodies sung in duplas featuring rising disjunct leaps followed by conjunct descending motion) followed by responsorial refrains of quick and sharp ostinato call and response accompanied by functional harmony.

The style is performed by the mighty bateria (a drum orchestra often encompassing more than 300 percussionists), which is made up of booming bass drums like the bombo orsurdo which mark the pulse and the fundamental rhythmic patterns; powerful double-headed drums like the repinique which, along with blasts of the apito (a small whistle that can play three different notes) and hand gestures, smash out calls that ‘conduct’ thebateria; resonant frame drums like the tamborim, which plays its own ‘lilting’ syncopations often using the viradotechnique (where it is flipped in the middle of each pattern); piercing snare drums like the cuíca and caixa, which play their own fast syncopated rhythmic patterns to create interlocking rhythms that act as polyrhythms against the fundamentals; and additional percussion like the pandeiro (a tambourine played at rapid pace and involving flair with thumb, fingers and heel and palm of hand), chocalho (a jingling shaker), reco-reco (a scraper), agogo (a cowbell) and rattles (e.g. matraca), which add their own rhythms and timbres to the busy mix.

The dance choreography includes all sorts of indigenous, Luso-Hispanic and African-derived dances, and often depends on the particular backgrounds and tastes of the performers, though clearly it favours dance traditions which suit the collective marching context and the idiomatic ‘sambarhythm’, so processional dances drawn from the rural samba campineiroare particularly prominent.

The pedagogy of modern urban samba revolves escola de samba (‘samba school’). The first escola de samba was founded in 1928 (named Deixa Falar (‘Let them talk’)) to promote and cultivate the tradition and to act as a social, cultural and educative centre for the community as a whole. By 1930, there were already five schools parading in the Rio Carnival, instituting the competitive element of the festival where a panel of judges crowns the best escola de samba based on their spectacle, their artistic theme, their dance choreography and flow, their musical virtuosity, and their ‘harmony’ between music, song, dance and spectacle in the overall impression. Historically, theEstação Primeria de Mangueira (founded 1929) and Portela (founded 1935) have been the most successful, the former famed for its excellence in traditional style and the latter for its innovations. At Carnival, the paradingescola de samba group formation is as follows: comissão de frente (the vanguard who establish the ‘theme’ through extrovert exhibition); mestre-sala and porta-bandeira (the ‘master of the room’ and the ‘flag-bearer’, where the former dances around latter according to established routines); baianas (older women who march in bright traditional dresses to pay tribute to the predominant African roots of samba); bateria(the mighty drum orchestra); singers (a well-known lead singer with a backing vocal group who sing the school’s specially composed samba song, accompanied by a band (formerly chordophones like guitar and violaplayingrasgueados (strumming) but, more recently, often large brass ensembles that supplement the melody as well as providing harmony); and finally carro alegorico (themed floats).

Today, samba features at Carnival celebrations across the country and its music-song-dance spectacles have truly become the centre of national culture. Moreover, samba has had a huge impact on the development of subsequent (Afro-)Brazilian popular musics, like bossa nova (Rio slang for ‘shrewdness’; a fusion form that grew out of with samba-cançãofeaturing heavy jazz influences that revolves around melodic and harmonic complexity and sophisticated song texts about life, love, loss, etc); samba pagode (working-class revival of traditional participatory samba forms and functioned as oppositional vehicle of protest against the oppressive military regime); and tropicália (experimental genre that infused samba and other Brazilian musics with a whole host of international influences, especially Western popular music). Moreover, the four-day extravaganza that is the Rio Carnival remains one of the most famous festivals in the world calendar, and samba is at the heart of the sights, sounds and festivities that enabled it to capture the global imagination, together with innumerable street bands performing at parties and parades across the cities and the top escolas de samba whipping up a thunderous samba frenzy at the Sambadrome, where they compete for the title of best samba group and, by popular assumption, the world.

James Nissen (The University of Manchester), April 2017.

Sources & Further Reading Suggestions

Beyond Ipanema [Documentary Film] (Beyond IpanemaFilms, 2009).

Brasil, Brasil! [Documentary Film] (BBC, 2007).

Brazil Music Exchange [Podcast] (The Guardian, 2016).

Favela Rising [Documentary Film] (Sidetrack Films, 2005).

Tropicália [Documentary Film] (Bossa Nova Films, 2013).

World Routes in Brazil: Carnival [Radio Broadcast] (BBC, 2008).

Avelar, Idelber and Christopher Dunn, Brazilian Popular Music and Citizenship (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).

Béhague, Gerard, ‘Afro-Brazilian Traditions’, in Bruno Nettl et al., The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (London: Garland, 1998).

Béhague, Gerard, ‘Brazil’, Grove Music Online, 2009, <>.

Beta, Andy, ‘How the Tropicália Movement Provided Hope during Brazil’s Darkest Years’, Pitchfork, 17 November 2016, <>.

Blackwood, Jessica, ‘Dança! Movement and Music of Brazil’, Smithsonian Folkways Online, <>

Burns, Bradford et al., ‘Brazil’, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2017, <>.

Cleary, David, ‘Brazil’, in Simon Broughton, Mark Ellington and John Lusk (eds.), The Rough Guide to World Music (London: Rough Guides, 2000).

Crook, Larry, ‘Black Consciousness, Samba Reggae and the Re-Africanization of Bahian Carnival Music in Brazil’, The World of Music, 35 (1993).

Crook, Larry, ‘Brazil: Northeast Area’, in Bruno Nettl et al., The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (London: Garland, 1998).

Crook, Larry, Focus: Music of northeast Brazil(New York: Routledge, 2009).

Dent, Alexander, River of Tears: Country Music, Memory and Modernity in Brazil (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009).

Fryer, Peter, Rhythms of Resistance: African Musical Heritage in Brazil (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

Hertzman, Marc, Making Samba: A New History of Race and Music in Brazil (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013).

Hudson, Rex (ed.), Brazil: A Country Study (Washington: Library of Congress, 1998).

Livingston, Tamara and Thomas Caracas Garcia, Choro: a Social History of Brazilian Popular Music (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

McCann, Bryan, Hello, Hello Brazil. Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil, 2ndedn (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

McGowan, Chris,The Brazilian sound: samba, bossa nova, and the popular music of Brazil(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009).

Murphy, John, Music in Brazil (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Pareles, Jon et al., ‘The Essentials of Brazilian Music for Olympic Listening’, The New York TimesOnline, 2 August 2016, <>.

Parry, Keith and Amy Eastwood, ‘From the favelas: rising up through arts and sport in Brazil’, The Conversation, 20 February 2014, <>.

Pedro, Rachael, ‘Behind the beat: the Brazilian samba’, The Conversation, 2 July 2014, <>.

Perrone, Charles and Christopher Dunn (eds.), Brazilian Popular Music and Globalization (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2001).

Reily, Suzel ‘Brazil: Central and Southern Areas’, in Bruno Nettl et al., The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (London: Garland, 1998).

Reily, Suzel, ‘Brazilian musics, Brazilian identities, Ethnomusicology, 9 (2000).

Rio, Florencia de, Samba: a bibliography(Albuquerque: FOG Publications, 1992).

Robinson, Lewis, ‘The songs that make Brazil’s musicians think of Carnival’, The Guardian Online, 28 Feb 2014, <>.

Schreiner, Claus, Música brasileira: A history of popular music and the people of Brazil(New York: Marion Boyars, 2002).

Seeger, Anthony, Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People, 2ndedn (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004 [1987]).

Stroud, Sean, The Defence of Tradition in Brazilian Popular Music: Politics, Culture and the Creation of Música Popular Brasileira (London: Routledge, 2016).

Vassberg, David, ‘African Influences on the Music of Brazil’, Luso-Brazilian Review, 13 (1976).

Vianna, Hermano, The Mystery of Samba: Popular Music and National Identity in Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Sources of Images

Header image: Flickr

Map of Brazil: Britannica

Brazilwood on the Portuguese shoreline: Brown University Library

Tupinamba ritual dance: Benedito Prezia, Eduardo Hoomaert

Viola maestro Mazinho Quevedo: Orchestra of Samples

São Gonçalo do Amarante: Arnaldo Chieus, 2016

Cateretê dance: Mundo da Dança

19th century painting of Afro Brazilian music and dancing: Great Brazilian Music

Umbigada – batuque: Eyes on Brazil

Modinhas: Musica Brasileira

Chiquinha Gonzaga:

Samba Lenço de Mauá: Projeto Nosso Samba

Samba de Roda: Great Brazilian Music

Donga – Pelo Telefone Samba: Divisão de Música da Biblioteca Nacional

Afoxé Oyá Alaxé: RAIZ Cultura do Brasil

Padre Miguel Bateria: Martin Hester, Good Listening

Chocalho at Carnival: Brazil Carnival

Samba tamborins musicians: Brazil Carnival

Samba school in Carnival: Great Brazilian Music