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SAMBA

 
 
 

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A brief history of Samba is one of the best known forms of Afro-Brazilian music. Afro-Brazilian culture developed through a blending of cultures as a result of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. The Portuguese wished to use Brasil’s temperate climate to grow crops such as coffee and sugar and subjugated the indigenous Indian population to work their plantations. The Indians found this way of life unacceptable and were subsequently wiped out through a mixture of military campaigns and unknown diseases‚ inadvertently carried by the European’s.To replace them‚ slave labor was transported from Africa and inevitably‚ the African’s brought elements of their culture with them. Out of this racial melting pot‚ Afro-Brazilian culture was born.

 

This vibrant and exciting culture is still evolving and is expressed in different ways in various parts of Brazil. It is important to note that what we in Europe call sambadance or Samba music‚ is often an umbrella-term encompassing several different forms of music (samba‚ samba-reggae‚ afro bloc‚ maracatu‚ baio‚ etc.). No one is sure where the term samba originated. Some say it comes from the word semba‚ a Congo/Angola expression used to describe a traditional African dance brought to Brasil by slaves. It may also come from the Umbanda term san-ba meaning to pray as many samba players and composers are followers of Umbanda and Candomblu.

 

In Brazil‚ ‘Samba de Pé’ refers to the carnival music associated closely with Rio and Sao Paulo. The samba danced in couples: Samba de Gafieira (Rio de Janeiro) and Samba de Pagode (São Paulo) Samba de Pé in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo Today’s samba schools are descendants of the neighbourhood blocos- groups of poor Rio residents who came together to sing and dance to the accompaniment of percussion music-. Blocos celebrated carnival in their own neighborhoods and visited neighboring favelas. Samba came to the attention of white Brazilians with the advent of radio and record players and the first recorded sambas appeared from 1917 onwards. The first samba school Deixa Falar (Let Them Speak) was formed in 1928. Quickly‚ many other samba schools were formed such as Mangueira (1930) and Portela (1935)‚ all of which exist to this day! The term samba school refers to the fact that many of these early groups rehearsed in school yards. A typical samba school can number 3000 to 5000 members‚ although not all members will perform for carnival. The most important event in the life of a samba school and her people is the carnival parade! Carnival is celebrated each year just before the Catholic feast of Lent and‚ as such occurs in February or early March.

 

A samba school carnival-entry will typically include: -singers (puxadores)‚ - musicians‚ including a drumming section called the bateria‚- dancers‚- giant puppets‚-several floats and flag bearers‚ -all ornately decorated or wearing colorful costumes. As well as the performers‚ there will be an army of people behind the scenes‚ building props and floats‚ making costumes‚ designing elements of the entry‚ doing the administration for the sambaschoolcarnival etc. Samba schools will begin their preparations for the carnival as early as mid July. Samba school members compose songs and submit designs for costumes‚ floats‚ etc. The samba enredo (winning song) will be selected and becomes the key song and determines the overall theme (Every samba school has to have a subject wich they show at the carnival with the whole group) This can be different subjects for that year's entry. Then‚ the intensive rehearsals follow‚ float construction and costume making commences which will continue right up to the beginning of carnival! The people work hard for this parade! The results are beautiful to see!: Amazing clothes, beautiful dressed ladies dancing samba, music that goes straight to your heart, and so on! It's really worth to see this at least one time in your life!

 

Salvador de Bahia

In Salvador de Bahia‚ carnival traditions developed differently and are closely linked with the black-consciousness movement of the 1970’s. Taking on board the same influences as Rio samba‚ and mixing them with music from other black artists of the period (soul‚ funk and reggae)‚ new Afro Blocs formed. Afro blocs celebrated the African heritage of their (mainly black) membership and set about educating people about African cultures while speaking out about past and present injustices and inequalities in Brazilian society. Their music contains a stronger African influence than Rio samba. The first Afro bloc was Ile Aiye‚ formed in 1974. Ile Aiye took the controversial step of excluding whites and mulattos from their ranks and specializes in provocative‚ pro-black lyrics. The best-known Afro bloc of all is Olodum‚ who are generally considered to have invented samba-reggae. Samba-reggae mixes Afro bloc music with reggae influences‚ to produce an extremely popular music form which has gained popularity world over. Amongst others‚ Olodum have recorded and performed with such luminaries as Jimmy Cliff‚ Herbie Hancock‚ Paul Simon and Michael Jackson.                                        

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