Samba is the most popular music and dancing style of Brazil. It arose in Rio de Janeiro, taken there from Bahia, and grew up to become the quintessential music and dance of the nation. It is the foundation of the Rio Carnival and has become part of the DNA of all Brazilians.
With its rhythm and voluptuous dance it has travelled the world over, becoming one of the most catchy and popular rhythms of South America.
It was born when descendants of Africans migrated from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 19th century, taking with them the samba, which was brought down from their ancestral culture. In fact, historians of popular music consider the Bahia samba as the main source. The famous tias baianas played a substantial role in the pioneering days of samba, especially up until the mid-1920s.
This rhythm reached music markets and became popular thanks to radio, and was eventually accepted by the middle classes. In the 1930s it began to be considered part of Brazil’s official culture and was adopted by composers such as Ernesto Nazareth, Noel Rosa and Cartola. A musical style that was originally marginal and subdued rose up to become a national symbol. For Brazilians it represents racial and cultural mixture and defines the Brazilian identity. It is one of the great gifts from Brazil to the world
Samba from Bahia continues to be a benchmark for national samba and it is present in the music of Dorival Caymmi, João Gilberto and Caetano Veloso, and is the base of the samba schools in Bahia and for many composers throughout Brazil.
Samba adopted many different rhythms as it expanded throughout the Brazilian territory, spawning novel musical styles in the process. Samba-canção, bossa nova, pagode, samba-enredo, samba de morro, samba de partido-alto, samba-rock and samba-parcela (typical in Brazil’s carnivals) are some of the musical genres derived from the original samba.
The Samba de Bahia Reconcavo was registered as part of the Cultural Heritage of Brazil in 2004 and named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.
Brazil has its own samba day, celebrated across the nation on December 2, honoring Ary Barroso, who composed Na Baixa do Sapateiro.
Try practicing this joyful and sensual dance: start with slow steps and speed up little by little until your whole body vibrates. This is a great way to enjoy a country that moves along with the rhythm of samba.
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