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A Journey through Aesthetic Realms

Samba: A Symbol of Brazil, Part 1 of 2



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Brazilian music encompasses a wide range of genres from different cultures and has integrated them together. Among the country’s diverse styles of music, samba, or samba carioca, is the most iconic. Each year during the celebration of the Brazilian Carnival, splendid samba performances express the overflowing, delightful energy and enthusiasm of the Brazilian people.

Music is an integral part of human development and represents the social, historical, and geographical traits of a region. Samba is inseparable from Afro-Brazilian music development because it synthesizes the traditional music of native Brazilian Luso-Hispanic culture and Brazil’s African heritage. The early form of samba music and dance can be traced to the Jongo dance of African migrant workers on sugar and coffee plantations and in mines from around 1500 to 1815. Let’s now hear the samba piece “A Vida Tava Tão Boa” or “Life Was So Good” written and performed by the Coco Trupé Band.

One of the most influential figures in samba history is Tia Ciata, a Bahian-Angolan and African spiritual leader. Tia lived in an area known as “Pequena África,” or “Little Africa.” Inspired by local bloco carnavalesco, or informal street carnival groups, Ismael and his fellow composers set up the first samba school named “Deixa Falar” or “Let Them Talk.” The presence of these schools led to the very first unofficial parade competition among samba schools, held in 1932 in Praça Onze. A talented samba singer and dancer, Carmen Miranda, brought samba to the international stage when she moved to US and became a Hollywood actress.

Music featuring samba percussion instruments was revived during the 1950s, being played mostly in the favelas. Later, this strong percussive beat would become the core sound of Rio’s carnivals.

The soundtrack of the film “Black Orpheus” composed by Jobim and Luis Bonfa has been referred to as reflecting the sound of Brazilian music’s origin. In the 1970s, samba once again transformed into various other musical styles with the rise of MPB or música popular Brasileira, which blended rock, jazz, and other genres.

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