Musical Style and History of Samba de Roda

Samba de Roda
Samba de Roda

Samba de roda is a more primitive musical variant of samba, originating in the Brazilian state of Bahia, probably in the 19th century.

The traditional Afro-Brazilian musical style is associated with a dance, which in turn is associated with capoeira.

It is played by an ensemble of pandeiro, atabaque, berimbau, viola and chocalho, accompanied mainly by singing and clapping.

Samba de roda is one of the many traditions brought to Brazil by African slaves.

It is a variant of samba that is part of a popular Brazilian musical style that brings together various songs, instruments, poetry and dances.

Samba de roda originated in Bahia in the 17th century and was brought to Brazil with the arrival of Angolan slaves. Today, it is a cultural heritage of Afro-Brazilian culture.

Today, this artistic manifestation is present in all parts of Brazil. In Bahia, it is in the Recôncavo that this rhythm is most popular. This is because this region was the scene of the arrival of African slaves.

Curiosities about samba de roda

  •  in 2003, it was included in the Register of Forms of Expression.
  • In 2005, it became an Intangible Heritage of Humanity, having been considered a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
  •  in 2013, it was awarded the title of Cultural Heritage of Brazil by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN).

Samba de roda is made up of a circle of people who follow along by clapping and a group of musicians who play various instruments such as the viola, pandeiro, triangulo, prato, chocalho, atabaque, ganzá, viola, reco-reco, agogô and berimbau;

Samba de Roda Style and History

Estilo e História do Samba de Roda

Samba de Roda

1. Intangible Heritage

Samba de Roda, in the Recôncavo Baiano, refers to a mixture of music, dance, poetry and celebration. Present throughout the state of Bahia, samba is mainly practised in the Recôncavo region.

But the rhythm has spread to various parts of the country, especially Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, as the Federal District, became known as the world capital of Brazilian samba, because it was in this city that samba evolved, acquired its artistic diversity and established itself in the urban area as a movement of undeniable social value, as a way for blacks to face police persecution and social rejection, This distorted image was attributed by racists to candomblé, which was actually the religious expression of black peoples, of undeniable importance to their people.

Samba de Roda was inspired above all by an African rhythm, semba, and was formed from references from the most diverse African tribal rhythms.

It should be noted that cultural diversity, even within the black race in Brazil, was quite remarkable, because the slave masters chose their individuals at random, and this both separated related African types, belonging to the same tribe, and brought together different African types, some linked to tribes that were hostile on their original continent.

This seriously transformed the social environment of the blacks, not to mention the new place where they would live, and this had a decisive influence on the originality of the formation of Brazilian samba, with the creation of musical forms within a different and diverse social context.

Samba de roda is also very similar to jongo

2. Derived styles

With the modernisation and urbanisation of Samba de Roda came various names.

In 1916, the first samba was recorded on disc, Pelo Telefone, by singer and composer Donga, and over time, other singers and samba authors came along: Ataulfo Alves, Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, among many others.

Of the rhythms derived from samba, the most controversial was Bossa Nova in the 1950s.

Launched by artists such as Antônio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto (the latter, from Juazeiro, Bahia, the inventor of the rhythm played on the guitar), the Bossa Nova is accused by the historian of Brazilian music, José Ramos Tinhorão, of having distanced itself from the natural evolution of samba and merely taking advantage of part of its rhythm to add it to the influence of jazz and standards (the popular film music of Hollywood, whose greatest idol was Frank Sinatra).

Proponents of Bossa Nova, however, while acknowledging that the rhythm has little to do with the reality of Rio’s favelas (by the way, removed from the main neighbourhoods of the Zona Sul by state governments in the 1950s and 1960s), nevertheless claim that BN undeniably contributed to the enrichment of Brazilian music and the recognition of samba abroad.

3. Contemporaneity

The cultural manifestation, in its contemporary form of Samba de Roda, is present in works by Bahian composers such as Dorival Caymmi, João Gilberto and Caetano Veloso.

In the 1980s, Samba was represented by names like Zeca Pagodinho and Dudu Nobre.

From the late 1990s onwards, Pagode also began to suffer from decadence and, as the history of samba has shown, whenever a genre begins to lose popularity, new ways of producing it appear and keep samba the main form of Brazilian musical harmony, even if it is always being modified by new influences.

So recently it has been presented in the form of Samba-reggae, the newest genre, which brings all the influences of the past and at the same time innovates with the evolution of the Guitar as a string element to replace the cavaquinho.

4. History

Samba de Roda began around 1860 as a manifestation of the culture of the Africans who came to Brazil. According to historical research, Samba de Roda was one of the foundations for the formation of samba in Rio de Janeiro.

It is divided into two characteristic groups: samba chula and samba corrido. In the former, the participants don’t samba while the singers shout the chula – a form of poetry.

The dance only begins after the recitation, when one person at a time samba in the middle of the circle to the sound of instruments and clapping. In samba corrido, everyone samba’s while two soloists and the choir take turns singing.

Samba de roda is linked to the cult of the orixás and caboclos, capoeira and olive oil food. Portuguese culture is also present in the cultural manifestation through the viola, the pandeiro and the language used in the songs.

was considered by IPHAN (National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute) to be intangible heritage.

The rhythm and dance had its application to the Book of Tombs (which registers the heritage protected by IPHAN) launched on 4 October 2004 and, after extensive research into its history, the samba-de-roda was finally registered as intangible heritage on 25 November 2005, a status that brings many benefits to popular culture and, above all, to the culture of the Recôncavo Baiano, the cradle of the samba de roda.

Recordings of samba de roda are available in the voice of Dona Edith do Prato, a native of Santo Amaro da Purificação, the Velloso brothers’ wet nurse, and a friend of Dona Canô. Dona Edith played music by beating a fork on a plate, which is how she got her nickname, and her music is still respected.

The CD Vozes da Purificação contains sambas de roda, most of which are in the public domain, sung by Dona Edith and the Vozes da Purificação choir.

Another singer is enjoying great success based on samba de roda and the popular culture of the Recôncavo: Mariene de Castro, with her CD Abre Caminhos (Open Paths), in which she interprets songs by Roque Ferreira and other composers, with arrangements in which you can appreciate the singer’s deep knowledge. Mariene has sung with Daniela Mercury, Beth Carvalho and others. is the largest tourism and travel guide for Bahia and Salvador.

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