Brazil Samba Music
A history of the
The word Samba, and the musical genre Samba, has
for a long time being studied to uncover its origin. We are publishing
here what we think it is the most accurate.
The word Samba, in Portuguese, was derived from
semba, a word common to many West African bantu languages. To
the African slaves brought to Brazil during the 17th, 18th, and
19th centuries, the word had a variety of meanings. It meant to
pray, or invoke the spirits of the ancestors, or the Gods of African
pantheon. As a noun, it could mean a complaint, a cry, or something
like "the blues".
In Brazil, Samba is a woman with the same function
of an ekedi nagô in the banto's temples: A sacred dancer,
iaô, the daughter of the saint.
In Brazil also, the African slaves called samba
a religious ceremony characterized by the rhythm and choreography
of the batuque. (Batuque: the act of "batucar"; to make
some kind of rhythm using any kind of instrument or object, and
also a Rio's version of martial art "capoeira").
The Jongo, a variant of the Samba, until today is considered a
The first known appearance of the word Samba as
a Portuguese word
meaning a rhythm and a dance in print appeared in 1838, in the
newspaper "O Carapuceiro", in an article written by
father Lopes Gama.
In 1917, Ernesto dos Santos "Donga",
recorded his song "Pelo telefone",
and labeled Samba. This is officially the first Samba recording.
Since then, the musicians descendants of slaves started to see
the Samba as a new approach to the batuque from Angola, and determined
themselves to integrate it to white society trough organizations
they called Samba Schools.
A pioneer of Samba, Angenor de Oliveira, was quoted
as saying "In my childhood, we played the Samba in the backyards
of the old ladies, whom we call "tias" (aunts), and
the police stopped us often, because the Samba, then, was considered
a "thing" of bums and bandits."
Unfortunately, until today in Brazil if a "white"
person dedicate himself
to the samba art form, he is considered an intellectual, or eccentric,
but if an African descendent does the same, he is seeing like
somebody who does not want to get a job, or something in that
Unlike other societies that cherish the Blues,
the Jazz, the Mambo, the Rumba, the Reggae and others, and sees
these musical art forms as a national treasure and are proud of
it, Brazilian society refuses to recognize the Samba as a culture,
as Brazil's main culture and pays no respect to their masters.
We do not have there a Samba museum, or any kind of award to neither
people nor institutions dedicated toward the promotion and preservation
of the Samba culture or even a well-organized structure of promotion
of this culture to international markets. The Samba in Brazil,
is still an underground culture.
However, thanks to some people in Brazil
and around the world who sees the Samba otherwise, some artists
with their love and dedication, Samba Schools, and to general
people that gather to play, sing and dance the Samba, the culture
will never die, and will continuously grow strong developing new
approaches and evolving forever.