An Introduction to Samba

Samba is one of the most popular dance forms of Brazil. In fact, it is considered the national dance and music style of Brazil. It is a mix of African rhythms which first came to Brazil with the slaves of Angola from the Bahia state.


When the slaves came to work in the plantations, samba came with them. They then moved to Rio de Janeiro, and when slavery was abolished, samba gained an identity of its own and saw rapid growth.

But, the samba you know today is a mixture of this dance form from back then, called Semba, and Xote, Maxixe, and Polca.

The term “samba school” originates from the formative years of the dance form. It was adopted by large groups of performers in an attempt to give acceptance to samba and its performances.

First Samba

The 1st samba recording is usually considered to be Pelo Telefone by Donga and Mauro Almeida in 1917. It had great success which helped the dance form to leave behind the ghettos.

Over the years, samba spread in multiple directions and grew in multiple ways from the gentle samba-cancao to the orchestras of drums which make for the soundtrack of the parade during the Carnival. One of the newer styles is the bossa nova which was made by white people in the middle class. It increased in popularity with time.

When the eighties began, Samba was pushed around by the likes of Brazilian rock and disco, but reappeared with a musical movement in Rio de Janeiro’s suburbs. It was called the pagode which was a new form of samba with fresh instruments like the tantan and banjo as well as a new language which was full of slangs.

The typical instruments used in samba include caixa, surdo, repinique, agogo, chocalho, and pandeiro. Nowadays, it is still one of the most popular genres of music in Brazil.

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