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Don’t Stop The Music: Carnival Is Over But Brazil’s Samba Will Carry On

Brazil‘s annual carnival, which is one of the biggest in the world, ended this week. However, samba which is the soundtrack to the Brazilian event, will continue to played throughout the country in different formats for the rest of the year. As reported by

“Samba is typically heard on U.S. cable news exactly once a year as ambient audio in the background of coverage of the yearly Carnival celebrations in big Brazilian cities like Rio, Sao Paulo, Bahia and Recife. The stock news footage usually involves outlandish floats created by the large competitive samba schools — spectacles involving thousands of dancers in costume, as well as hundreds of drummers and musicians. At the big Rio competition, the schools perform in front of a massive audience — tickets to the Sambadrome can cost over $1,000 — and vie for honors in many different categories like best song, etc.

“That’s the tourist version of samba, and it only represents a small slice of an incredible thriving music culture. There’s a parallel samba universe that goes on all year long, on neighborhood streets and small clubs and little kiosks by the beach. This goes by various names — samba de roda (samba wheel) is the most common term, but it’s also known as “samba popular” or “roots samba.” It involves as few as five or six musicians, sitting around facing each other at what looks like a conference room table, playing cherished samba hits from years past as well as original compositions. The audience stands surrounding the table, often completely encircling the musicians. If you see a random cluster of people and hear drumming, there’s usually samba going on. Nobody is standing still, however; the throngs are usually dancing and singing along. In the Sambadrome, you simply watch; on the street, there’s no show biz. Everyday people expect to participate.”

“Roots samba” and these samba schools are a better representation of the cultural music scene in Brazil. Not only does it differ in the general format, but Roots samba also tends to vary in tempo and is accepted among a range of age groups.

As also reported by

“One of the most incredible things about samba is how it really does transcend age — one drummer told me “We get samba in the womb here” and you can tell. At some of the samba de roda events I caught, there were young people dancing with grandmothers, toddlers on their father’s shoulders, etc. It’s not uncommon to see very young drummers standing in the circle, contributing and learning at the same time.”

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