Samba is one of the most popular forms of music and dance in Brazil. Moreover, It is widely viewed as Brazil’s national musical style. The name semba (please note the difference in spelling) most probably comes from the Afro Brazilian “lundu”( XVIII century), also known as umbigada or batuque: a mixture of African rhythym brought from the slaves of Angola who lived in Bahia state.
When the slaves were transferred to Vale do Paraíba (XIX century) to work on coffee plantations, they brought the semba with them. They later moved to the National Capital; Rio de Janeiro, and after the abolition of slavery semba gained its own identity and gained rapid mainstream growth.
Whilst living in the carioca (carioca is a person from Rio) districts of Gamboa and Saúde the freed slaves introduced the African rhythym semba to Royalty. It used to be danced in the houses of Bahia’s black ladies like Amélia, Ciata and Prisciliana.This rhythym soon developed into what we know today as Samba, mixing with polca, maxixe and xote.
The title “samba school” (“escola de samba”) originates from samba’s formative years. The term was adopted by larger groups of samba performers in an attempt to lend acceptance of samba and its performance; local campuses were often the practice/performance grounds for these musicians and “escola” gave early performers a sense of legitimacy and organization to offset samba’s somewhat controversial social atmosphere.
“Pelo Telefone” (1917), by Donga (Ernesto dos Santos) and Mauro Almeida, is generally considered the first samba recording. Its great success carried the new genre outside the black ghettos. Who created the music is uncertain, but it was most probably the work of the group around Tia Ciata, among them Pixinguinha, João da Baiana, Mauro de Almeida e Sinhô (José Barbosa da Silva- known as the King of Samba). This song was really created in a “roda de partido alto” by a group of high quality samba composers.
After the recording, Samba conquered the phonographic market and with the inauguration of the radio in 1922 the music would reach the middle classes in Rio.and the new style brought the talents of middle class composers like the medical student Noel Rosa and the law student Ari Barroso Ari Barroso is famous for composing ”Tarzan, the son of the taylor ” and ”Aquarela do Brasil”.
With the radio other talented people like Francisco Alves, Orlando Silva and Carmen Miranda became great samba idols in Brazil.
In 1929, a group of musicians led by Ismael Silva founded the first Samba School, Deixa Falar, in the neighborhood of Estácio de Sá. They transformed the musical genre to make it better fit the carnival parade. In this decade, the radio spread the genre’s popularity all around the country, and with the support of the nationalist dictatorip; Getúlio Vargas, samba became Brazil’s “official music”.
In the following years, samba has developed in several directions, from the gentle samba-canção to the drum orchestras which make the soundtrack of carnival parade. One of these new styles was the bossa nova, made by middle class white people. It got increasingly popular over time, with the works of João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim. In the sixties, Brazil was politically divided, and the leftist musicians of bossa nova started to gather attention to the music made in the favelas. Many popular artists were discovered at this time. Names like Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, Zé Keti and Clementina de Jesus recorded their first albums.
In the seventies, the samba got back on the radio waves. Composers and singers like Martinho da Vila, Clara Nunes and Beth Carvalho dominated the hit parade.
In the beginning of the eighties, after having been sent underground due to styles like disco and Brazilian rock, Samba reappeared in the media with a musical movement created in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. It was the pagode, a renewed samba, with new instruments, like the banjo and the tantan, and a new language, more popular, filled with slang. The most popular names were Zeca Pagodinho, Almir Guineto, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Jorge Aragão, and Jovelina Pérola Negra.
Their typical instruments are: repinique, caixa, surdo, chocalho, agogô, pandeiro.
Nowadays, samba is still one of the most popular musical genres in Brazil.
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