Ballroom dance of Brazilian origin, popularized in the U.S. and Europe in the 1940s. Danced to music in
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The name samba likely comes from the Angolan semba (or mesemba), a type of ritual music, but this has been disputed. Portuguese ethnographer and folklorist Edmundo Correia Lopes talks about a dance from the Portuguese Guinea to which Brazilian people gave the name of samba, which would be, according to him, a very close relative to Brazilian samba.
According to sambista and samba studies academic Nei Lopes,
The origin of the term samba has always been connected to semba, a Congo-Angolan style of dance characterized by the bellybutton-bump with which the gentleman distinguishes the lady, gesture which was reenacted in old Afro-Brazilian dances. However, much more than bellybutton, the multilingual African term semba also means "pleasing, enchanting" (in Kimbundo), besides "honoring, revering" (in Kikongo). From semba originate disemba and masemba which then yes, mean bellybutton-bump, respectively in Angolan Kimbundo and in Kikongo.
Nei Lopes also points out it should be observed that the bellybutton-bumpy trump, much more than the "gross representation of the sexual act" as was pointed out by Portuguese missionaries of the colonial times, represented an affability, an act of seduction and a reverence from the man towards the woman.
Samba first appeared as a distinctive kind of music at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio de Janeiro (then the capital of Brazil) under the strong influence of immigrant black people from the Brazilian state of Bahia. 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 to samba and its performance; local campuses were often the practice/performance grounds for these musicians and these escolas gave early performers a sense of legitimacy and organization to offset samba's somewhat controversial social atmosphere.
Despite some similarities, jazz and samba have distinctively different origins and line of development - one of the factors which adds to this is that Brazilian slave owners allowed their slaves to continue their heritage of playing drums (unlike U.S. slave owners who feared use of the drum for communications).
"Pelo Telefone" (1917), by Donga and Mauro Almeida, is generally considered the first samba recording. Its great success carried the new genre outside the black favelas. Who created the music is uncertain, but it was likely the work of the group around Tia Ciata, among them Pixinguinha and João da Bahiana.
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and is the birth place of the Samba. Much of the music in the heavily populated coastal areas shows a remarkable combination of African, Native Indian, and Iberian influences.
Modern Samba was developed from an earlier Brazilian musical style called Choro. Both Samba the dance and music can take many forms, from the vivacious call response of samba de enredo, the music of Carnaval to samba-canção or song samba, a more relaxed guitar and rhythm variant. Bossa Nova, which translates to New Wave, hit America big time in the Sixties with "The Girl From Ipanema". This song by the legendary composer Antonio Carlos Jobim became a classic in jazz and elevator music.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese discovered on the east coast of South America, a place they called the January River (Rio de Janeiro). Colonists soon settled and as the colony prospered, slaves were brought from south-west Africa to work in the plantations of Bahia, in the north-east of what became Brazil.
To adherents of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomble, Samba means to pray, to invoke your personal orixa (god/saint). The African rhythms enveloped in Latino music came from the Yoruba, Congo and other West African people, who were transported to the New World as slaves. In their homeland the rhythms were used to call forth various gods. Candomble preserves these rhythms to this day! It is these rhythms that has heavily influenced Brazilian music making Samba a unique genre of music.
In the early 1980s, after having been eclipsed by the popularity of 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 tan-tan – and a new language that reflected the way that many people actually spoke with the inclusion of heavy gíria (slang). The most popular artists were Zeca Pagodinho, Almir Guineto, Grupo Fundo de Quintal, Jorge Aragão, and Jovelina Pérola Negra..
Samba, as a result, morphed during this period, embracing types of music that were growing popular in the Caribbean such as rap, reggae, and rock. Examples of Samba fusions with popular Caribbean music is samba-rap, samba-rock and samba-reggae, all of which were efforts to not only entertain, but to unify all Blacks throughout the Americas culturally and politically, through song. In other words, samba-rap and the like, often carried lyrics that encouraged Black pride, and spoke out against social injustices. Samba, however, is not accepted by all as the national music of Brazil, or as a valuable art form. What appears to be new is the local response flow, in that instead of simply assimilating outside influences into a local genre or movement, the presence of foreign genres is acknowledged as part of the local scene: samba-rock, samba-rap. But this acknowledgment does not imply mere imitation of the foreign models or, for that matter, passive consumption by national audiences. Light-skinned, "upper-class," Brazilians often associated Samba with dark-skinned blacks because of its arrival from West Africa. As a result, there are some light-skinned Brazilians who claim that samba is the music of low-class, dark-skinned, Brazilians and, therefore, is a "...thing of bums and bandits."
Samba continued to act as a unifying agent during the 1990s, when Rio stood as a national Brazilian symbol. Even though it was not the capital city, Rio acted as a Brazilian unifier, and the fact that samba originated in Rio helped the unification process. In 1994, the World Cup had its own samba composed for the occasion, "Copa 94." The 1994 FIFA World Cup, in which samba played a major cultural role, holds the record for highest attendance in World Cup history. Samba is thought to be able to unify because individuals participate in it regardless of social or ethnic group. Today, samba is viewed as perhaps the only uniting factor in a country fragmented by political division
The Afro-Brazilians played a significant role in the development of the samba over time. This change in the samba was an integral part of Brazilian nationalism, which was called "Brazilianism".
"What appears to be new is the local response to that flow, in that instead of simply assimilating outside influences into a local genre or movement, the presence of foreign genres is acknowledged as part of the local scene: samba-rock, samba-reggae, samba-rap. But this acknowledgment does not imply mere imitation of the foreign models or, for that matter, passive consumption by national audiences." — Gerard Béhague Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology ) Pg. 84
The pandeiro (tamborine drum) is the most present percussive instrument, the one whose beat is the most "complete". A violão (acoustic guitar) is usually present, and its presence in samba popularized the seven-string variation because of the highly sophisticated counterpoint lines used in the genre in the lower pitched strings. Samba lyrics range from love songs, through futebol (soccer), to politics and many other subjects. This subgenre supersets all others.
Famous artists: Moreira da Silva
Sambas-enredo are recorded and played on the radio during the period leading up to Carnival. They are generally performed by male vocalists accompanied by cavaquinho and a large bateria (percussion group) producing a dense, complex texture known as batucada. They heavily emphasize the second count of the measure driven by the bass notes of the surdo drums.
Rio de Janeiro's baterias have provided inspiration for the formation of percussion groups around the world, especially in Western countries. These groups generally do not use vocals or cavaquinho, focusing instead on percussion grooves and numerous breaks. These groups operate year round, unlike in Brazil where activity is now confined to the months preceding Carnaval.
Samba-enredo in Brazil used to be played year-round, though often as an exercise on virtuosity.
Samba de Gafieira is a lively, big band-influenced jazz dance of the pre-bossa nova nightclubs, and is one of Brazil's least well-known styles because it was eclipsed by the suave glamour of the bossa nova crowd and the various waves of rock and samba crossovers that followed. Gafieiras were dancehalls, homes to dancers and dance bands, and, in the best Brazilian tradition, many of the best bandleaders, such as Severino Araujo, Radamés Gnattali and Zacharias, drew on many sources to craft their music. They played the kinetic frevo and choro styles, incorporated the muscularity and elegance of North American swing, and eventually gave in to the wave of mellower pop instrumentals and vocal music of the so-called radio singers era.