2 – Samba – The National Rhythm that conquered the world

BRAZILIAN MUSIC PART 2 – Samba – The National Rhythm that conquered the world by Juliana Areias

During the “Golden Age of Samba” (1920’s-1940’s), besides the coexistence of an amazing group of talented musician and composers – such as Pixinguinha, Sinho, Donga, Ismael, Assis Valente, Noel Rosa, Braguinha, Lamartine Babo, Ary Barroso and Dorival Caymmi – other external factors and key personalities were pivotal in consolidating this musical movement. The first of those elements was the “Nationalist Ideology”, promoted by the” Sao Paulo Modern Art Week Exhibition” (1922); and implemented by Getulio Vargas’s Government (1930-1945 / 1951-1954).


This change of mentality represented a revolutionary transition. The Street Carnival Parade was officially recognized by President Getulio Vargas in 1935. Before this time, samba groups were  persecuted and discouraged by the police. The first “samba school” (samba group) called “Deixa Falar” was crated in 1928 and the second, called “Mangueira” in 1929. “Mangueira”still exists today.


Sound technology was in expansion at the same time. The first Radio Station in Brazil appeared in 1922, with only eight receivers. It became progressively more accessible from 1932. Getulio Vargas made a new law to facilitate the opening of new radio stations in Brazil in 1937. Thanks to this, radio reached its commercial peak during the 1940’s. The Cinema Sound Era began in 1920, becoming popular in Brazil during the 1930’s. By 1945 Hollywood emerged as the main centre of cinematography, following World War II and the economic crises in Europe.

Combining all these circumstances and characters, with the voice and charisma of Carmen Miranda, Samba established itself in Brazil and the world. Carmen emigrated from Portugal to Rio de Janeiro when she was just a baby in 1909. She spent her adolescence in Lapa, the most bohemian suburb of Rio. Having an extraordinary group of musicians and composers around her, Carmen became the greatest star in records, radio, movies, theatre and Brazilian casinos during the 1930’s. In 1940 she was invited to debut on Broadway and ended up conquering Hollywood, immortalizing the Brazilian grace, joy and samba with songs such as “Brazil”, composed by Ary Barroso. This song is a perfect example of  “exaltation samba”. It illustrates well the nationalist atmosphere of that period.

As the writter Ruy Castro recounts in his book  “Carmen – the life of Carmen Miranda, the most famous Brazilian in the Twentieth Century”; Carmen’s band’s trip to United States was directly funded by Getulio Vargas’ Government to ensure that “the real Brazilian rhythm” – would conquer the world. The “mission” was well accomplished. Since then samba has entered the world stage and with its multiple facets it continues to evolve.

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