Brazil has an ancient history, one that is complex and intricate. This has created a deep sense of culture and heritage as an array of traditions, customs, colours, languages and religious denominations have settled in this South American nation. Music, song and dance remain an integral part of the identity of a society. Even the most primitive of tribes tend to establish their own sort of musical culture.
As different people set up home throughout Brazil, each brought with them and developed their own unique style of song and music. With time, these different styles have evolved somewhat. Some have remained distinct and unique, while others have influenced modern music and performance to a certain degree. This has created a characteristic sound for Brazil.
Although the native Amerindians that once occupied the jungles of South America had already established their own styles of music, the European settlers formalised these as they began to introduce formal musical instruments, as well as foreign languages (predominantly Portuguese).
From the time of European occupation in the 16th century onwards, the music of Brazil took on a particularly European identity. In addition, these settlers brought in huge numbers of African people to work for them as slaves. These ones had an established tribal style, which also began to influence the Brazilian music identity significantly.
Today, Brazilian music is a complex integration of traditional folk music, modern experimentalism and just about everything in-between. In terms of classical music, some of the modern composers include Sílvio Ferraz, Ronaldo Miranda, and Jailton de Oliveira. The national orchestras are internationally renowned for their skill and expertise.
Some of the other significant styles and types of music include:
• Capoeira – this traditional sport is never played without being accompanied by music, and is rhythmical and choreographed in nature. Both the sport and the music have very distinct roots in the African culture and originated from when African slaves were brought over to Brazil by the Europeans. These songs are usually about well-loved teachers or the actual history of Capoeira.
• Carimbo – this originates in Eastern Amazonia and now dominates the area. In the 1960’s, an electrical element was introduced to it, creating a cutting-edge sound for the era. Thereafter, musicians manipulated it to include other sounds, such as reggae and salsa. As it evolved in this way, it became known as Lambada. When Lambada moved to Bahia, the local producers based it upon synthesized sounds, adding a light beat.
• Choro or Chorinho – this style of music is instrumental, and was born out of the cultural hub of Rio de Janeiro in the 1800’s. It was first played using a flute, guitar and cavaquinho (a chordophone). Ernesto Nazareth was one of Brazil’s best known choro publishers, and his works included polkas, waltzes, Brazilian Tangos and more.
• Samba – this was popular amongst the masses and played widely on the radio during a time when the radio was becoming widely known and loved in Brazil. Tambourines, flutes, guitars and cuicas were the perfect instruments to create an appropriate Samba vibe.
Of course, musical genres, such as rock, heavy metal and pop music, are also found in Brazil and are enjoyed by niche markets and, sometimes, the masses too.