Present in the Portuguese language at least since the 19th century, the word “samba” was originally used to designate a “popular dance”. Over time, its meaning has been extended to a “boutique-like circle dance”, a dance style and also to a “music genre”. This process of establishing itself as a musical genre began in the 1910s and it had its inaugural landmark in the song “Pelo Telefone”, launched in 1917. Despite being identified by its creators, the public and the Brazilian music industry as “samba”, this pioneering style was much more connected from the rhythmic and instrumental point of view to maxixe than to samba itself.
When the Brazilian Samba was first introduced to the U.S. Dance Masters in 1929, it became an overnight sensation. Like many other Brazilian dances, the music is an amalgamation of African and Latin American rhythm that is adorned with expressive, melodic lines. In form, the Samba is a serenade; the repetition of its melody is continually interrupted by the strumming of a guitar or other stringed instruments. Originating in Bahia, Brazil, the dance first became popular in Rio de Janeiro, and later, its intoxicating rhythm was taken up by serious Latin American composers. The Samba is festive and lighthearted, and performed today in all parts of the world. It brings to mind pictures of Rio’s festive and exotic Carnival! In its native land, the Samba is usually danced to a moderately slow tempo which contrasts vividly with the spirited version favored in U.S. The Samba has withstood the test of time and still ranks high among social as well as competitive dancers.
The modern samba that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century is predominantly in a 2/4 time signature varied with the conscious use of a sung chorus to a batucada rhythm, with various stanzas of declaratory verses. Its traditional instrumentation is composed of percussion instruments such as the pandeiro, cuíca, tamborim, ganzá and surdo accompaniment – whose inspiration is choro – such as classical guitar and cavaquinho. In 2007, the Brazilian National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage declared Carioca Samba and three of its matrixes – samba de terreiro, partido-alto and samba de enredo – as cultural heritage in Brazil.
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