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History of Samba Music

A carnival in Brazil can never be complete without the Samba. Though it wasn't as spread and admired worldwide as it is today, it was Carmen Miranda during the period between 1930s and '50s, who can be attributed for taking Samba to the world with Broadway and musicals, and laying the foundation, of what today has become an identity for Brazil.
Melodyful Staff
Extreme, energetic, yet with a touch of sensuality, Samba music and dance has a touch of every mood. As a musical culture, it spread rapidly since its emergence. From Africa to Americas, Samba was introduced in the later half of the 20th century. This was the time when the superb, energetic beats caught the attention of everybody.
People from all over the world sway to the music, especially at the colorful carnivals of Brazil. Those who have actually shaken a leg the Samba style, would be aware about the beauty of the dance and the pulsating music.
Samba finds its origin in Africa. It is believed that it emerged from a couple dance that was performed mainly amongst African-Americans. There has been a considerable amount of speculation about the origins of this style. Experts also claim this musical style was developed from another style known as the Choro. In a typical Samba performance, the music is accompanied by singing and dancing.
The term Samba is derived from a Portuguese word, Semba. To the African-American natives, the word was interpreted in many ways. For some, the word meant 'to pray', whereas in Brazil, Samba was also referred to a woman. The first documented reference of this word can be traced to a newspaper in 1838. Here, the meaning of the word was given as rhythm and dance.
Spread and Reach
Samba is like the local style prominent in Rio de Janeiro. The spread of this art form to multiple other cities like Sao Paulo, Salvador, and Belo Horizonte took the art form to a wider audience.
It was during the 19th century, the dance form started to spread when slavery was practiced by the colonial rule and slaves were bought and transported to their respective owners. The slaves from Africa were sent to various destinations and they tried to keep their traditions alive by using Samba as music for all their occasions, from births to funerals, and from prayers to entertainment.
During the years, multiple modifications of this style continued. From a group dance, it moved on to become a partner dance. In the 1960s, many musicians came to the fore and popularized the typical Samba music. By the 1970s, it gained a strong foothold over the minds of people through the radio. In the early 1980s, it somehow faded away with the popularity of other types of Brazilian music, particularly rock and disco. But with the addition of musical instruments such as the banjo and tan-tan, Samba as a musical style was soon revived. It was then fused with other musical styles such as rap and reggae, and is that form of Samba, which is rich and influenced and is immensely popular today.
Forms and Styles
There are multiple forms and variants of this dance style. These are the variants due to the change of style and acceptable styles during the history of this art form. A few places A few are listed here.
Samba no Pe
This is an easier form of the Samba that is a natural extension of the Brazilians form. The music is played on a low score and natural leg movements are done in a one-two-one fashion. It's ease makes it possible for everyone, from the children to the elderly to be involved when the music is being played.
Samba de Gafieira
It is done with the short-short-long tempo, and is usually danced upon in clubs and social arenas. The usual score picks up speed during the later stages and that makes the club go sweaty. There could also be inclusion of slang and terms in the music that are not used in everyday society, to get the dancers aggressive and full of energy.
Samba Pagode
This is the intimate and sensual form of Samba, with less acrobatics and more body contact―a global favorite. The rhythm is paid close attention to, and the moves are such that one has to keep a perfect balance of the body.
Samba Reggae
This form is usually paired with specific Samba drums to make it feel special. This could be said as a form that has been practiced traditionally, in sync with nature.
Samba Rock
Going to the club? Samba rock it is going to be. This is the most recent form of Samba that has captivated the party goers worldwide. Tap your feet harder―it's samba-samba.
Samba Axe
No partner to dance with, go solo with the Axe. This was a variant that evolved during the carnivals, as not everyone had a partner to dance with and everyone wanted to sway down the street in style.
Samba de Roda
This is the most original form of Samba and is performed in sync with traditional drums and beats. It was predominantly and still is loved especially by the Afro-Americans. The Samba de Roda is today proclaimed by the UNESCO as 'The Heritage of Humanity', which makes it an art-form that has helped bring humanity together by its virtue, and needs to be safeguarded in the interest of mankind and for our future generations.
Despite the popularity of Samba as a musical style around the world, it has not found complete acceptance in Brazil. There are few who feel that in terms of music and dance, Samba is meant for the lower strata of the society.
Today, these fun and lively musical compositions and dance style continues to inspire people all over. There are many schools that are dedicated to this purpose. Samba has also been used successfully in Hollywood movies. Truly, music and dance can bind people from diverse backgrounds! That's the beauty of Samba!
Carnival Samba Dancer Brazil
Carnival Parade