Brazilian Music

Used the Rough Guide to World Music for this information (see the Bibliography under Broughton, et. al.).

A good website is: Imagens Brasileiras at

Brazilian music is for sale in many of the larger music stores in the section called World Music.  It is also available in many of the stores carrying Brazilian products.  And a huge selection is available at Virgin Records store in Times Square.

Types of Brazilian Music

baiao = a thumping dance style; uses accordion, bass drum, and triangle.

batuque (batucada) = a Brazilian and Portuguese dance and associated music originating in the 18th century.

bossa nova (new wave) = an international craze of the 1960s that started out in Rio's Ipanema beach area; the rhythm was invented by Tom (Antonio Carlos) Jobim; the sound was eclipsed by the coming of The Beatles.

bumba-meu-boi = a comic-dramatic dance, which tells the story of the death and resurrection of an ox, starting at the end of the 18th century in northeastern Brazil.  The name translates to beat up my ox, this expression chanted by the crowd for men in ox costume to charge them.

caboclinhos = folk dance of primarily northeastern Brazil where the dancers simulate Indian war dances.

carimbo = the dance music of Belem, the port city at the mouth of the Amazon River.

carpideira = professional female dancer.

cavaquinho = a 4-stringed instrument akin to a large ukulele often used in the choro that is very popular among folk and popular musicians.

choro (crying, sobbing) = the original Carnaval music that was the precursor to samba that began in the favelas (slums) of Rio;  this type of song with an element of melancholy is mainly instrumental using flute, guitar, miniature guitar (cavaquinho) and clarinet; polkas and waltzes overlaid by Afro-Brazilian syncopation producing a jazzy sound (like tropical Dixieland).

chula = a generic term covering various kinds of popular songs and dances.

Clube da Esquina = a group of composers from the state of Minas Gerais.  Members include Toninho Horta and Lo Borges.

congado = a folk dance of African origins involving pantomimicry.

cuíca = a musical instrument that is a small metal barrel covered with leather at one end, with a short stick attached inside to its center, which is rubbed with a piece of wet cloth to produce extraordinary sounds such as the sound of laughter.  

fado = a Portuguese song and dance (similar in character to the lundu).

fandango = adult round dances.

forro ( corruption of the English phrase "for all" used in describing the dances put on by English employers for their employees in Recife in the 19th century) = an accordion-led music like Louisiana zydeco; accordion accompanied by triange and drum; lambada developed from this style of music.

frevo = a type of northeastern music that constitutes Recife's Carnaval beat.

fricote (or deboche) = a Salvadoran, highly danceable mix of reggae, salsa and samba along with African percussion.

jeitinho = in dance, a sexually suggestive hip movement.

lambada = started by the Djs of Belem as a variant of carimbo and from forro; the Djs added merengue, salsa and reggae elements to the carimbo rhythms; a lighter Bahian version along with the dance developed around it caught the interest of French record producers in 1988, from which the dance craze took off.

lundu (or lundum) = a rather sensuous dance of couples brought to Brazil by Bantu slaves highly popular all over Brazil in the seventeenth and early-eighteenth century; replaced by the maxixe and the samba.

maracatu = originating withe the slaves and ex-slaves this is a blending of African rhythms and Portuguese melodies that are poular with the blacks of Recife; there are female dancers and a male singer, usually the soloist singing a song and the chorus of women answering in refrain.

maxixe = urban dance that originated in Rio in the last half of the 19th century.

moda de viola = rural song.

modinha = sentimental type of song derived from moda.

MPB = Brazilian music in general; started in the 1930s. Modern MPB started with the 1964 military coup in Brazil and the consequent censorship of the arts.

northeastern music (música nordestina) = a regional music around the town of Recife, the beat coming from the accordion and/or guitar with the lyrics sung with a nasal northeastern accent; there are many varieties, including frevo, maracatu, baiao and forro.

pregao = the cries (songs) of the street vendors.

quadrilha = a French dance known as the quadrille that was imported to Brazil in the early 19th century.

repentismo = "dueling guitars;" a style of northeastern music where two musicians compete in improvising verses.

samba = With its throbbing vitality, the best known Brazilian dance and music.  Its music with its 2/4 signature (with a "more defined accent on strong beats and a more frequent pattern of responsorial singing" -- Appleby 1983:112) began around World War I in the slums of Rio, borrowing the choro syncopation. The blacks of Bahia brought the embryonic samba to Rio where at the house of a Baiana known fondly as Aunt Ciata it melded with western rhythms (Brazilian rhythms like the maxixe).  The early big names in samba are Noel Rosa, Bide and Marcal, and the people's poet Cartola.

samba breque (break samba) -- a type of samba that has a choppy, almost reggae rhythm.

samba cancao = balad-like; Doris Monteiro is one of the interpreters of this tradition.

samba de boss anova = the 1960's variation of samba.

samba de terreiro = linked to Afro-Brazilian religion.

samba do pagode -- a samba with a soaring dance rhythm; includes artists such as Agepe, Clara Nunes and Alcione, and bands like Raa Negra.

samba enredo = the carnival samba played for maximum effect.

samba Paulista = composer Adoniran Barbosa helped forge this style, named for his Sao Paulo home.

samba schools (escolas de samba) = neighborhood associations that parade in Carnaval; the term school comes from the fact that the early sambistas used to rehearse in an empty lot near a teachers' college.

siriá = a folkloric dance originating in the fishing communities along the river in the state of Pará in the Amazon with male and females dancing both together and alternating on the dance floor in a sort of "courtship" dance.

tropicalismo = a musical movment of the modern MPB that started in the late 1960s; some of its practitioners are Caetano Veloso (who sings the movement's anthem "Tropicalia") and Gilberto Gil. It consists of a mixture of regional music influenced by rock with deliberately obscure lyrics (but still iconoclastic) to get past the military censors. The movement ended in 1971 when Caetano and Gil were forced into exile in London.

Some Artists

Leny Andrade = singer with a husky voice.

group Ara Ketu

Geraldo Azevedo = northeastern music singer

group Banda Mel

Fafa de Belem (1956 - ) = an important Brazilian singer born in Belem.

Maria Bethania (1946 - ) = Bahian singer who along with Gal Costa became a major interpreter of tropicalismo; recorded her first album in 1965 and now has over 27 albums to her name; her brother is Caetano Veloso.  

Joao Bosco = musical composer and guitarist; composed with Vinicius de Moraes and then Aldir Blanc (from 1970 to 1980).

Pena Branca  and Xavantinho =  black Brazilian country and western singers who stick to the pure peasant (caipira) tradition.

Renato Braz = vocalist and guitarist from Sao Paulo.

Chico Buarque = one of the most outstanding of the modern MPB musicians; started out as a sambista; wrote anti-military songs that got him exiled for a year

Luis Caldas

Dorival Caymmi = a great Bahian composer and father to a musical dynasty of daughter Nana Caymmi and sons Danilo and Dori Caymmi.  

Nana Caymmi = daughter of  Dorival Caymmi, she is a songwriter and sophisticated singer.

Chico Cesar = song writer from Pernambuco.

Chitaozinho & Xororo = the most important Brazilian country twosome singers today.

Gal Costa = born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  First album released in 1968. She and Maria Bethania were the standard bearers for tropicalismo while Caetano Veloso and Gil Gilberto were in political exile.

Djavan = pop jazz singer from the Northeastern state of Alagoas (moved to Rio in his early 20s); released his first album in 1976.  

Dominguinhos = northeastern accordionist/singer; the natural heir to Luiz Gonzaga; Luis Gonzaga gave Dominguinhos his first accordion (sanfona) when Dominguinhos was only 13. Dominguinhos has the same timbre of voice and presentation in interpreting Gonzaga's compositions.  

Abel Duere

group Engenho = one of the most important instrumental groups from Santa Catarina.  

Fagner = northeastern music singer, songwriter and accoustic guitar player.

Paulo Freire = guitarist and composer; did research into the music of the backlands of the Urucuia region, north of the state of Minas Gerais, where he met Manelim.  

Gilberto Gil = proponent of modern MPB; co-founder of tropicalismo and a leader of Afro-Brazilian fusions; political exile in the late 1960s (during which he influenced by Bob Marley); he received the 1999 GRAMMY Award in the World Music category, for his live 1998 album 'Quanta Gente Veio Ver' (How Many People Came In To See That).

Astrud Gilberto = her 1964 bossa-nova hit "The Girl from Ipanema" was Brazil's biggest international hit.  The Grammy-winning recording was done with Stan Getz and her then-husband Joao Gilberto, the father of Bossa Nova.

Joao Gilberto = a Bahian artist who first sang bossa-nova; the 1957 record "Desafinado" (Out of Tune) became an instant success

Luis Gonzaga (1912-1989) = the first big star of forro who did much to popularize the sytle outside the northeastern region; his song "Asa Branca" (White Wing), dealing with a bird that is the last to leave the backlands in a drought, was a big hit among the northeastern migrants in Sao Paulo and Rio and became an anthem of the northeastern region.

Gozaquinho ("little Gonzaga") = son of Luis Gonzaga who died in a car crash in 1991.

Guinga (Carlos Althier de Souza) = composes songs with lyricist Aldir Blanc.

group Os Ingenuos = one of the best of the modern choro groups

Tom (Antonio Carlos) Jobim = famous for the bossa-nova and "The Girl from Ipanema"

Joyce = her career was launched in 1967; one of the first women composers of her generation; much influenced by Tom Jobim.

Ivan Lins = a musician and composer, who like so many others was first introduced by Elis Regina (when she recorded his first hit "Madalena" in 1971); his compositions have been covered by jazz musicians in the United States.

Manelim (Manoel Neto de Oliveira) = a master of the viola, a typical Brazilian ten-string guitar.

Sergio Mendes

Margaret Menezes = singer from Salvador (weaned by David Byrne)

Daniela Mercury = from Salvador and sticking to Bahian sounds, she is a major star in Brazil

Marlui Miranda = after 17 years of research this singer interprets the music of the Brazilian Indians.  

Marisa Monte ( 1967 -  ) = born in Rio de Janeiro; currently the best-selling female recording artist in brazil

Gilberto Monteiro = one of the great instrumentalist from the "gaucho" territories of southern Brazil; one of the few accordionists who impressed Astor Piazzolla.  

Vinicius de Moraes = part of the early bossa-nova scene

Moraes Moreira = northeastern music singer; one of the founders of the group Os Novos Baianos (The new Baians) which started in 1968.  

group Muzenza = a pioneer in the fight for black culture in Brazil; the group mixes Brazilian and African musical culture and add some Brazilian "rap."

Dinho Nascimento = a Bahian percussionist; he has used the berimbau, an instrument originally from Africa and used by black Brazilians to accompany their capoeiara dances (martial arts/dance ritual).

Joel Nascimento = one of Brazil's foremost cavaquinho and bandolim players.

Milton Nascimento = an outstanding proponent of modern MPB and black Brazilians; used musical influences from his state of Minas Gerais (he was born in Rio but was raised by adoptive parents in a small town in Minas Gerais).  Given his first break by Elis Regina, but now has over 20 albums since his frist in 1967.  He received the 1998 GRAMMY Award in the World Music category, for his album 'Nascimento.'

Clara Nunes = one of Brazil's greatest interpreters of samba.  

Dalva de Oliveira (1917-1972) = one of the greatest Brazilian female singers, known as "The Queen of the Voice."  

group Olodum = the Bahian group that arouse out of the black consciousness movment and that inspired much Paul Simon's album "Rhythms of the Saints."

Papete = for ten years he accompanied the duo of Toquinho and Vinicius de Morais as a percussionist.  He introduced a fusion of music from Maranhao and MPB.

Rosa Passos = singer.

Ze Paulo = a singer with the carnival blocos in Salvador, Bahia.

Leila Pinheiro = singer who in the early 1980s was compared to Elis Regina; offers modern arrangements of classic bossa nova.  

Pixinguinho (1898-1973) = probably the most influential composer of choros; his calssic was "Lamento."

Elba Ramalho = northeastern music singer who resembles Bette Midler

group Reflexu's

Elis Regina = with over 20 albums, the woman who has made the gratest contribution to Brazilian music, the queen of modern MPB; she died of a drug overdose in 1982 at the height of her musical talent.

Rita Ribeiro = a mezzosoprano singer from the state of Maranhao.

Simone = with her trademark sultry and sensual voice, she is a great interpreter of Brazil's greatest songwriters, especially ballads.

Cristaldo Souza = an accordionist  who was originally a member of the group Engenho and who now interprets the folklore of Santa Catarian.

Adil Tiscatti = a singer and composer from Rio de Janeiro.

Thomas da Vai-Vai = official interpreter of one of Sao Paulo's oldest and finest samba schools, Vai Vai.  He is a fine example of the puxador who "pushes" the carnival song along for hours on the parade route.  

Alceu Valenca (1946-) = northeastern music singer and songwriter.

Caetano Veloso (1942- ) = one of the creators of tropicalismo; one of the most important Brazilian singers and songwriters.  His sister is Maria Bethania.

Heitor Villa-Lobso (1887-1959) = a great Brazilian composer; started by playing cello and guitar in choro bands in Rio

Paulinho da Viola = a well-known sambista who also emphasizes a return of choro.


musical group artists
Rio Roots: -----
choro Pixinguinho; Paulinho da Viola; Walter Azevedo; Ratinho & Jararaca; Abel Ferreira; group Os Ingenuous
samba Agrepe, Clara nunes, Alcione, group Raa Negra
bossa-nova Tom (Carlos Antonio) Jobim; Joao Gilberto; Vinicius de Moraes; Astrud Gilberto
Bahian Roots: too many artists to write them all down here
fricote or deboche -----
Northeastern Roots: Elba Ramalho, Dominguinhos; Moraes Moreira; Alceu Valenca; Geraldo Azevedo; Fagner
forro Luis Gonzaga; Gonzaguinho
Amazonia roots: -----
corimbo ------
lambada -----
Modern MPB: -----
the trinity: Chico Buarque; Milton Nascimento; Elis Regina
tropicalismo Caetano Veloso; Gilberto Gil


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