La la la Conservatory: Brazilian music styles
Forró is a music and dance from the Northeast of Brazil. It consists of different rhythms, including the baião and Xote. Forró is mainly danced in pairs. Modern forms of Forró are popular with Brazilian youth of today.
The term 'Forró' is a shortening of the word forrobodó that means something like "disorder". Another popular explanation is that the word is a corruption of the English 'for all'. At the start of the 20th century some British engineers worked at the construction of a railroad in Pernambuco. legend says they organized dances "for all'...
In another version of the origin of the word 'forró, the English engineers are replaced by soldiers from the United States who were stationed in Natal during the Second World War. The second version cannot be right for sure, because there was already a song recorded called 'Forró after roça' in 1937.
There are several ways to classify the forró. The most important ones are:
By rhythm: 'Xote', slow version and 'Baião, faster version. Each rhythm has different dance moves.
By time period: Forró pe-de-serra ("forró from the foot of the mountain") is the traditional form, as as played and danced at the countryside. The modern version is called Forró eletrônico with modern instruments such as electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and drums. It is a commercial form which can be heard at many radio stations and is popular with a younger crowd. Forró eletrônico has a much stronger show element with acrobatic movements and is not only danced in pairs, but also by sexy dressed soloists on stage.
Forró is a sensual dance, the dance partners move close to each other. In rural areas forró festivals are an important opportunity to get to know a prospective partner. Most important moves are those of the hips. There is also a lot of swinging with the arm which holds the hand of the partner. The other arm is on the hip of the partner.
A frequently recurring theme in forró pe-de-serra lyrics is that of a country boy at a dance party who encounters a beautiful girl and asks for her hand. In forró eletrônico is the sexual element much more predominantly. Body parts and the sexual qualities of women are often song topics. Typically, each sentence is built up by a line of eighth notes, sung in fast staccato style. This requires a good lyrical command.
The most important artist of the baião style is Luiz Gonzaga. Other important artists of forró pe-de-serra are Dominguinhos and Jackson do Pandeiro. Within the forró eletrônico there are many groups and fashions change quickly.
Samba music and dance is originating from the state of Bahia, but the evolution of samba emerged when African, European and to a lesser extent, Arabic and Amerindian influences were mixed together. The most important cultural influence is traced to the Bantu peoples of Angola and the southwest of the present Congo. For private orchestras and choirs, the African slaves were taught western music styles such as the march, waltz and the Italian arias.
At the same time, Portuguese colonists were fascinated by the African batuques (designation that was used for all African music and dance accompanied by percussion). In the 18th century, the combination of batuques and western music created a new music style: the Lundu, which is considered the first national dance of Brazil. A more distinguished variant of the Lundu was Modinha.
At the end of the 19th during the coffee boom and the abolishing of slavery, large waves of migration spread over Brazil. Many former slaves from the state of Bahia settled in Rio de Janeiro and brought their local dances and music. Under the influence of the polka and the Cuban habanera, the Lundu evolved in Rio de Janeiro to a new dance and music craze: the Maxixe.
The carnival of Rio de Janeiro played a leading role in the further evolution of the samba. In 1917, the samba had a breakthrough with the first national sambahit 'Pelo Telefone'. This style turned out to be excellent musical garnish of the Carnival festivites. In 1928, the first samba school, Deixe falar, was founded. In the 1930s, the samba schools became part of the official carnival and with the help of massive state aid it became very popular throughout Brazil. President Vargas evebn declared the 'Samba Carioca' (samba from Rio de Janeiro) a national symbol.
There is no concesus about the origin of the word 'samba'. Nevertheless, the most common explanation stems from the word 'semba', which translates in the Kimbundu and Ngangela languagesof Angola as umbigada in Portuguese, something like 'a blow struck with the belly button'.... This belly punch was - and still is in some existing samba forms - a way to pass the turn to someone else. Besides this explanation, there are a few other African words which are possible origins of the name 'samba'.
The main feature of this type of samba ('Common Samba') is generally the use of the cavaquinho, similar to the ukulele and pandeiro, a kind of tambourine. In general, the use of the cavaquinho characterizes the difference between samba comum and bossa nova. In samba comum there is also always a guitar involved (often a seven-string guitar). Instead of samba comum, also the expression 'samba carioca' is used, the samba of Rio de Janeiro.
Famous artists: Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola, Zeca Pagodinho, Wilson Moreira, Teresa Cristina & Grupo Semente.
Samba de roda do recôncavo
This style is more traditional and originates from the area around the All Saints' Bay in the state of Bahia. A circle is formed, the bystanders clap their hands and sing and dance in the circle. Typical for this samba style are the use of the viola (a traditional stringed instrument) and prato-e-faca: plate and knife.
The samba de chula is the version with the strictest rules. There is no dancing while people are singing and there is always only one person who can dance. That person passes his/ her turn by an umbigada. The samba corrida, the generic term for other forms of samba de roda, has less restrictions than the samba chula.
Since 2005, the samba de roda the recôncavo from Bahia has been includeded at the of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity list by UNESCO.
The Partido alto is characterized by a greater influence of the pandeiro and the use of a surdo, a large base drum and tambourine. In general, the lyrics of this samba style are divided into (often improvised) verses and a chorus.
Famous artists: Candeia, Jovelina Perola Negra, Zeca Pagodinho, Arlindo Cruz, Aniceto do Império, Sombrinha, Nei Lopes, Almir Guineto, Camunguelo.
Nowadays Pagoda is the most common samba style in Brazil. The pagode subgenre originated in Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s and became very popular throughout the 1980s. The pagoda opposed against the commercialization of the samba schools and the perceived musical quality. In that sense, Pagode is actually a reinvention of the traditional samba. Therefore it debatable whether it really is a new subgenre. Anyway, the pagode music and the informal spontaneous party that comes along with it became a huge success throughout Brazil. In this type of samba banjo, cavaquinho, pandeiro and drums like the tan-tan, rebolo and repiniqu play an important role. Pagoda is a more informal style of music than samba comum. Lyrics have varied content from more politically charged chronicles of life in the favelas, about simple romantic themes to sexually explicit ones of the pagoda Bahiano. The latter is a subgenres as well as the pagode paulista, from the states of Bahia and Sao Paulo respectively. Samba canção is a romantic subgenre of pagode.
Famous artists: Zeca Pagodinho, Fundo de Quintal, Raca Negra, Molejo, Grupo Revelação, Martinho da Vila, Jorge Aragão.
Samba enredo is the samba style used by the samba schools during the carnival parades. The lyrics of a samba enredo are generally about the theme portrayed by the samba school, usually sung by a man, accompanied by a cavaquinho and the bateria (percussion section) of the samba school. Nowadays the pace of the samba enredo rhythm is higher than other samba styles.