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Music Roots

Birthplace of three important Brazilian musical genres - choro, samba and bossa nova - the city of Rio de Janeiro became, with the flow of time, an irradiating focus of Brazilian music abroad.
Choro(1) - Choro is a typically Brazilian musical genre, deriving from a synthesis of polka, Scottish, tango and havanaise. It became popular in the decade of 1870, in night serenades whose repertoire also included polkas and modinhas(2). The flute, the guitar and the cavaquinho(3) are indispensable instruments for the interpretation of choros.
Samba - Deriving from African rhythms such as lundu and jongo, samba first appeared as a popular dance, before it became music in the full sense of the word. Its name comes from the expression 'samba', in African dialect quimbundo, which describes a type of ring-a-ring-o'roses dance. At the end of the XIXth century the word was used to define any sort of ball or popular feast. It appears as music in the first decades of the XXth century. Though it suffered the influence of rhythms such as march and batuque(4), its beat is different from both. Eventually ramifications of samba were developed, known as samba-de-breque(5), samba-cancao(6) and samba-exaltacao(7). The samba enredo (see 7) became the trademark of Rio de Janeiro's carnival as from the twenties, gaining importance along the road with the samba school parade. The lyrics of this type of samba generally focus on a historical, folklore or biographic theme, related to the other elements of the parade, which include allegoric cars and different wings of samba dancers and specialised samba dancers, the passistas(8). Pagode, another style of samba, differs from traditional samba for having a slow and malicious rhythm, more appropriate for dance-hall performances.
Bossa nova - The Brazilian musical genre with utmost influence on the world scene. It is a combination of samba and jazz, stressing rhythm breaks in a syncopated manner, using inharmonious transition chords. The rhythm and melodic characteristics of bossa nova were first introduced by composer Johnny Alf, in 1953, with his song 'Rapaz de Bem', which exerted a strong influence on personalities of today's Brazilian popular music, such as Joao Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Sergio Mendes and Tamba Trio. Beginning with the Bossa Nova Festival at New York's Carnegie Hall, in 1962, this type of music became an international hit, having been plaid by world-famous jazz musicians, even Frank Sinatra himself, a great admirer of the compositions of Tom Jobim's.

01 - In Portuguese choro = act of crying, weeping
02 - modinha = Brazilian ingenuous lovesong
03 - cavaquinho = small Brazilian guitar
04 - batuque = African rhythm
05 - samba de breque = samba with a refrain in the lyrics, corresponding to a syncope in rhythm
06 - song samba, a romantic, slower version of samba
07 - a kind of hymn samba, with allegories, used to praise something or someone, the sort of samba the 'samba schools' play during their carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro
08 - passistas, from passo, step, samba step dancers

Music Roots


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On the Beach:

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