Brazil Travel

Music Tradition of Carnival

Musicians dressed in Carnival costumes in Rio de Janeiro As part of Carnival you do not only see the colorful images but hear the beauty of the festival through the music. The passionate sounds represent the many traditions Brazil represents including Amerindians, Africans, and Portuguese.

Originally, there was not specific music for Carnival. In the late 1800s, Carnival revelers grooved to music of European ancestry. Composer Chiquinha Gonzaga wrote the first song for Carnival called a marchinha or marching song. This piece of music called Make Way (O Abre Alas) was written for the group Rosa de Ouro to accompany their dancing. The samba, a double percussive beat, did not appear until 1917 which combined the ancestry and history of all the people of Carnival. The recording of Pelo Telefone (On the Telephone) marked the beginning of the recorded sambas and influencing the sambas of today.

The music evolved through time, becoming more political, influenced by the activism the era. At this point, the marchinha was rooted in social causes and the lyrics were shared with everyone through pamphlets, encouraging many to learn the words and sing along during Carnival. Along with all the revelry of dancing, singing, and eating, people shared of their irritations, disappointments, and injustices while stipulating amends.

There are many events that music accompanies throughout Carnival. The blocos include bands and floats, with people coming together to move to music throughout the streets. The people of Brazil spend months preparing for the Samba School Parades, practicing music dedicated to a specific theme. The costumes and floats reflect the sounds of the Samba Parade theme music or Sambas de Enredos. Great compilations of percussion instruments collaborate together, marching and moving, pulsating and pounding, creating an experience one never forgets.

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