Brazilian Music – A Starter Kit: Styles of Brazilian Music – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian Music – A Starter Kit

Styles of Brazilian Music
Following is a brief explanation of some of the different styles of Brazilian music. Do keep in mind that these styles are often not clear-cut and that Brazil’s tradition of fusing styles tends to confound those in search of ready-made categories.

Samba
A term which in reality describes a range of related styles. There is much debate as to the origins of the samba. It seems likely that it arrived in Rio by way of Bahia. Along with its cooler cousin bossa nova, it is the most widely known Brazilian style. Beware of pagode, its more recent watered-down relative.

Bossa Nova
Based on samba, but with a much more laid-back approach and a strong jazz influence. Exemplified by the music of Ant�nio Carlos Jobim, the composer of The Girl from Ipanema; and Jo�o Gilberto.

Choro (or chorinho)
A mainly instrumental progenitor of samba, bearing a vague semblance to American ragtime. This style has been enjoying much renewed popularity in recent years.

MPB (M�sica Popular Brasileira)

A blanket term given to popular music that doesn’t fit neatly within the rubric of samba, bossa nova, or pop. Includes Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, and the artists of the Tropic�lia movement. Milton and his fellow artists from Minas Gerais, with their beautifully poetic music, constitute an entire substyle of their own.

Music from the Northeast and Bahia
A musical universe unto itself. Although what is delineated as Bahian music today is often a dilute blend of ax�, lambada, and other lightweight materials, Bahia in fact has a strong musical tradition which is unfortunately drowning in a sea of commercialism. The sound of Bahia may be heard in the songs of Dorival Caymmi, the earthshaking drum grooves of Il� Aiy� and Olodum, the music of Gilbert Gil and his circle of musical friends, and more recently the powerful singer Virg�nia Rodrigues. To the North, especially in Pernambuco, is another galaxy of rhythms, including forr�, now very popular in Rio, largely due to internal migration; the frenetic frevo; maracatu; and modern variations on these themes, as heard in the Northeast/rock fusion called mangue beat.

Classical
Known mainly through Brazil’s most important classical composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. Visit the composer’s former residence at the Villa-Lobos Museum.

Rock/Pop
In general, not promising. There are some notable exceptions, for example Lulu Santos, Rita Lee, Marina Lima. In the rock arena, Tit�s and Paralamas do Sucesso are more interesting than the majority.

Instrumental
A strong suit in Brazil. “O Bruxo” (The Wizard), Hermeto Pascoal, leads the pack, followed closely by a legion of fine instrumentalists.

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