Playing For Change Goes Samba

“While on our journey of recording and filming musicians in Brazil, someone told us that all we needed to do was “shake a tree, and musicians would fall out like fruit.”  That couldn’t have been more true.

It was one of our last days in Salvador da Bahia when we discovered this band, Sangue Brasileiro.  Wow!  They are super fun and I guarantee you will want to dance to this jam and smile at the screen.  This song, “Samba de Viola” is a true reflection of the Samba music that is the pulse of Brazil.  This performance truly embodies the Playing For Change spirit, and the band’s musicianship is incredible!  Enjoy!”

Check out their cool video in Salvador!

Hoje eu to enjoado

I´m going a little crazy living in Para because I have to listen to this brega song many times everyday…for a month so far. Almost as bad, the youngsters actually find it to be a great song…people even discuss the lyrics. I dont even have the heart to place this under the Music category. Oh and there happens to be a competing song out now, competing for annoyingness. Its called Selinho na Boca but Ill save you from having to hear it.

At least Beyonce is respectable in the overlapped video…oh wait, nevermind.

Mayra Andrade – Stória, Stória


I first posted about the beautiful Cape-Verdean singer Mayra Andrade several months back and since then, she has put out a new CD. It’s called Stória, Stória and it’s really quite good (not that that surprises me). Most of it stays true to her roots and is in Portuguese. Unfortunately, official samples and/or music videos haven’t surfaced yet, but if you want to hear some of the tracks from a live concert, try these videos. Other than that, you can buy the import here at Amazon. I’ll leave you with a short interview (in PT) about her new cd, followed by a track (a Cape Verdean morna) from her previous CD.

Carimbó – The magical song of the Amazon

(foto: ParaTur)

The Carimbó is considered an indigenous musical style, however like other Brazilian cultural manifestations, it mixed with and received other influences. Its name in Tupi refers to the drum (curimbó) with which the rhythm is marked. The carimbó itself as African origins which are present in the percussive rhythm and both its Portuguese (the snapping sound made with the fingers and the palms in certain parts of the dance) as well as European influences, or rather the melodies of the colonizers. Appearing in the area of Belém in the Salgado region (Marapanim, Curuça, Algodoal) and on the Island of Marajó, it became a traditional dance which later, when influenced by a more modern rhythm, lent to the creation of the Lambada and the Zouk (a musical style from the French West Indies).


In its traditional form, it’s accompanied by drums formed from tree trunks. At some point, the name of these drums came to be called “curimbó”, which is a corruption of the word Carimbó. They are also used together with the maracá, an indigenous rattle used in ceremonial war dances.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, more modern instruments were added to the Carimbó (such as guitars) as well as cúmbia and merengue influences from Colombia. The modern rhythm became popular in the Brazilian Northeast and gave birth to the lambada, which spread internationally (ironically popularized by a Bolivian musical group, Los K’jarkas).

The original instrumental formation of the carimbó was composed of two curimbós: one on top of the other in reference to the timbers or tones (agudo and grave) of the instruments; a wood flute (generally made from ebony or acapú wood, deriving from the Northeastern rustic flute made of bambu and used by the first Christians to pay homage to the Virgin Mary), maracás and a rural guitar with four cords, later substituted by the handcrafted banjo (made of wood, nylon chords and deer skin). Today, the instrumental part of the carimbó incorporates other wind instruments such as flutes, clarinets and saxophones.

Additional history

Being the preferred music of the Marajoan fishermen, although not yet known as carimbó at the time, the rhythm spread across the Guajará bay (where Belém is situated) by these fishermen and landed on the beaches of the Salgado region of Pará. In a region neighboring the cities of Marapanim and Curuçá, the genre solidified itself, earning the name it carries to this day. Maranhãozinho, in the municipality of Marapanim; and Aranquaim, in Curuçá, are two of the places that in recent times have reclaimed the paternity of the genre. In Marapanim, in the Salgado region in the Northeast of Pará, the genre has been cultivated well in the annual event known as the  “Festival de Carimbó de Marapanim — O Canto Mágico da Amazônia” (“Carimbó Festival of Marapanim – The Magical Song of the Amazon”), in the month of November.

For an idea of how the curimbó instrument sounds, see the video below!

To hear some of the Carimbó music, here’s Pinduca singing Garota do Tacacá (a song about the best dishes from Pará)

For more of an idea of what the dance looks like, see the video below

The Ritual

The dance is presented in pairs. It starts with two rows of men and women facing the center. When the music begins, the men follow the women while clapping as a way of inviting the women to the dance. Immediately, the pairs form, turning continually around each other and at the same time forming a big circle that goes counter-clockwise. At this point, the indigenous influence shows itself, when the dancers make certain body movements with their bodies thrust forwards and one foot in front of the other. The women, full of charm, customly have fun at their partners by holding the ends of their dresses, waiting for the moment when their partners are distracted in order to hit them in the face with this part of their clothing. This always provokes shouts and laughs from the other dancers. The gentleman that is booed by his own companion is forced to abandon the dance area. At a determined moment in the carimbó dance, one couple goes to the center to enact the famous turkey dance or “Peru de Atalaia”, where the gentleman is forced to pick up a hankerchief his partner dropped using just his mouth. In case the gentleman doesn’t succeed, his partner hits him in the face with her dress and subjected to the boos of the others, must leave the dance area. If he succeeds, he is applauded.

Forro in the Dark – Pure genius

I know I’ve written about the song ‘Asa Branca‘ before but I really love the song. There’s a group in New York doing justice to the song while not only making it modern but singing it in English. They have a great CD called Bonfires of São João (see the reviews for yourself on the link or a more professional review here on in which they sing in English and Portuguese and team up with Bebel Gilberto, David Byrne and Miho Hatori (who brings a Japanese flavor to the mix) on certain songs. Another great song is ‘Que Que Tu Fez’ (‘What Is It That You Did’…although technically its gramatically incorrect, ‘O que é que tu fizeste?’ would be right, but ‘que que’ is a fast way to ‘what is it that…’, adding more emphasis than just starting a question with a simple ‘What’)

“Picture this: it’s an exceptionally hot, muggy night in the heart of Northeastern Brazil. While the ambient forest and wildlife sounds engulf most of the region, a bright rhythmic pulse beats out of a large, illuminated dance club.

A sweaty group of men and women, who should be exhausted after a long week’s work, dance exuberantly pelvis-to-pelvis in a waltz-meets-salsa like motion to a colorful vibrant band effortlessly performing a style of music centered around the bass-like thump of a zabumba, the awkward wail of an accordion and a large metal triangle rattled so quickly, you’d think the musician was having a seizure.

Well ok, Forro in the Dark is not quite that type of traditional forro band, instead they are bringing an updated style of the music to the hipsters and club-goers of NYC, but the sweaty, excitable vibe is still undeniable.”

From Forro in the Dark‘s website

Eu Bebo, Sim – Elizete Cardoso

Thanks again to DJ Vivo from Brazilian Beatz for putting this track on the 04/23/08 podcast. Great song! (By the way, thats not Elizete in the video, just her voice). Here’s a small trecho (snippet) of the lyrics. 

Eu bebo sim!
Eu bebo sim Eu tô vivendo
Tem gente que não bebe
E tá morrendo
Yes I drink!
Yes I drink, I am living
There's those who don't drink
And they are dying 

Tem gente que já tá com o pé na cova
Não bebeu e isso prova
Que a bebida não faz mal
Uma pro santo, bota o choro, a saideira
Desce toda a prateleira
Diz que a vida tá legal

There's people with their foot already in the grave
They didn't drink and that's the proof
Because one drink won't do any harm
One for the saint, top it off, last one of the night
Bring down the whole shelf
Say life is good 

Brazilian Beatz Podcast by DJ Vivo

While doing a little extra searching in iTunes, after not being satisfied with my initial search for a Brazilian news radio program, I reverted back to broadening my musical horizontes (horizons) and found Brazilian Beatz by resident DJ Vivo from the UK. Check out his site as its pretty cool and subscribe to him via iTunes (just search for ‘Brazilian Beatz’)

His podcast is described as follows…

“A Specialist Brazilian music podcast by promoter DJ Vivo. Taking you through all styles of samba, bossa nova, black rio, Carnaval styles, MPB to urban and contemporary baile funk, samba funk, sambareggae, samba breaks, forro, reggae, hip hop and remixes”

I highly recommend the episode called ‘Brazil do Mar’ which is a great compilation. Don’t be surprised if you want to put it on repeat!

Rock in Rio (2014)

Rock in Rio is a series of very successful rock festivals held in Brazil (and later in Portugal). The first three incarnations of the festival were in Rio de Janeiro, in 1985, 1991 and 2001 and later the there were three in Lisbon, in 2004, 2006 and 2008. The shows were organized by entrepreneur Roberto Medina who has commented that Rock in Rio – Lisbon is here to stay. The next festival will be in Madrid, Spain also in 2008 and again in Lisbon in 2010.

The first edition of the festival was held from January 11-20, 1985. Queen, George Benson, Rod Stewart, AC/DC and Yes were the headliners, each occupying top spot for two night. About 1.4 million people attended the 10-day-long festival.

The second edition was held from January 18-27, 1991 at the Maracanã stadium. Headliners were Guns N’ Roses, Prince and George Michael, each being top billed for two of the event’s nine nights. INXS, New Kids on the Block and a-ha also got top billing, for one night each.

The third Rock in Rio festival took place in 2001 and its seven nights were headlined, respectively, by Sting, R.E.M., Guns N’ Roses, ‘N Sync, Iron Maiden, Neil Young and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

It’s not quite understood why such a large scale show called Rock in Rio, hasn’t actually taken place in Rio in such a long time. Recently, Medina announced that the show would return to Brazil only in 2014, the same year as the World Cup (which will take place in Brazil too). Medina tried to capitalize some more on the success of the shows by opening a Hard Rock Cafe-style restaurant called Rock in Rio Cafe in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio and later in Salvador, Bahia although both failed to bring in the same kind of crowds that came to his shows. 

Here’s a video of Guns N’ Roses at Rock in Rio 3.

Maracatu – Turning the Beat Around

Maracatu is a term common to two distinct performance genres found in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil: maracatu nação and maracatu rural.

Maracatu Nação

Maracatu nação (also known as maracatu de baque virado: “maracatu of the turned-around beat”) is an Afro-Brazilian performance genre. The term, often shortened simply to nação (“nation”, pl. nações), refers not only to the performance, but to the performing groups themselves.

Maracatu nação’s origins lie in the investiture ceremonies of the Reis do Congo (Kings of Congo), who were slaves that occupied leadership roles within the slave community. When slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, the institution of the Kings of Congo ceased to exist. Nonetheless, nações continued to choose symbolic leaders and evoke coronation ceremonies for those leaders. Although a maracatu performance is secular, traditional nações are grouped around Candomblé or Jurema (Afro-Brazilian religions) terreiros (bases) and the principles of Candomblé infuse their activities.

Traditional nações perform by parading with a drumming group of 80-100, a singer and chorus, and a coterie of dancers and stock characters including the king and queen. Dancers and stock characters dress and behave to imitate the Portuguese royal court of the Baroque period.

The performance also enacts pre-colonial African traditions, like parading the calunga, a doll representing tribal deities that is kept throughout the year in a special place in the Nação’s headquarters. The calungas, usually female, are traditionally made of either wax and wood or of cloth. They may have clothing made for them in a similar Baroque style to the costumes worn by the other members of the royal court. The calunga is sacred and carrying this spiritual figurehead of the group is a great responsibility for the female Dama de Paço’ (Lady-in-Waiting) of the cortège.

The musical ensemble consists of alfaia (a large wooden rope-tuned drum), gonguê (a metal cowbell), tarol (a shallow snare drum), caixa-de-guerra (another type of snare drum), abê (a gourd shaker enveloped in beads), and mineiro (a metal cylindrical shaker filled with metal shot or small dried seeds). Song form is call and response between a solo singer and (usually) a female chorus.

Today there are around 20 nações operating in the cities of Recife and Olinda. Although several have an unbroken line of activity going back to the 1800’s, most have been set up in recent decades. Well-known nações include Estrela Brilhante, Leão Coroado and Porto Rico. Each year they perform during the Carnival period in Recife and Olinda. Maracatu Nação Pernambuco, while not a traditional maracatu, was primarily responsible for introducing the genre to overseas audiences in the 1990s.

The genre has inspired the establishment of performing groups in a number of cities outside Brazil, including Toronto, New York, Cologne, Hamburg, Lyon, Stockholm, London, Edinburgh, Auckland, Brighton, Oakland and Manchester .

Maracatu Rural

A Maracatu Rural performer

A Maracatu Rural performer

Maracatu rural is also known as maracatu de baque solto, maracatu de orquestra, and maracatu de trombone. It is rooted in the Pernambucan interior and evolved in the early 20th century as a fusion of pre-existing forms of Carnival revelry. It is considered to be Afro-indigenous in origin. Its members, typically sugarcane workers, are involved with the native-influenced Catimbó religion. Maracatu rural has a high participation rate with dozens of groups operating all over the state.