Brazil Travel

Music of Brazil

Probably the most distinctly Brazilian music, the name itself comes from a word common to Western African Bantu languages: semba. It was carried to Brazil during the three centuries of slavery, and it meant to pray and to call upon the spirits of the Gods and ancestors of the people. It turned into a name used by African slaves to describe a religious ceremony who's defining characteristics were the rhythm and choreography of the batuque- which in a noun sense means to make any rhythm possible using any instrument or object.

Samba in the contemporary sense came to be in 1917, when Ernesto dos Santos, or "Donga" recorded the hit "Pelo Telefone" and categorized it as Samba. Since then, various musicians have tried to incorporate Samba into the white culture, through Samba Schools. Samba was accepted on the international scale before it was ever considered a decent artform within Brazil itself. Now, thousands upon thousands flock to Carnaval to watch the Samba Schools practice for the big day, though it is still viewed as an eccentric exception for a white person to dedicate themselves to the Samba. Thus the Samba in Brazil is still an underground culture.

Bossa Nova
Born in the 1950's, this music replaced samba as the national musical style, with its' smooth romantic and laid back melodies. Bossa nova, which means "new wave" was introduced to the world through the French film Black Orpheus and in the 1960's had a humongous influence on the American Jazz scene, with artists such as Stan Getz doing collaborations with Tom Jobim, one of the greatest Brazilian composers and Joao Gilberto, the brilliant guitarist who introduced and pioneered Bossa Nova.

This style developed side-by-side Samba in the beginning of the 20th century. Choro music includes a lot of improvisation and freedom and is usually instrumental, using such instruments as the piano, saxophone, flute and guitar. It is often times referred to as the "Brazilian style Jazz."

A late 60's and early 70's fusion of North American rock blues jazz with psychedelic and typically Latin American music styles. The music of the "underground counterculture" that never exactly reached massive popular audiences yet it helped to destabilize the military dictatorship of 1964. This was a reaction to the then-pop music of Bossa Nova, though both of these styles are currently categorized under MPB, Musica Popular Brasileira. Some major artists include Jorge Ben, Gal Costa, Maria Bethania and Tom Ze.

Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB)
This term is used to describe pretty much all the music that has arisen post Bossa Nova. The term became popular in the 1970's, when Tropicalia began to seek broader audiences. In the 1970's it was at its most "pop" like phase, with records being produced like hotcakes. It is currently a broad and nebulous term, encompassing such differing styles as hip-hop, samba and bossa nova along with various mutations of the three.

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