Traditional Music of Brazil

Traditional Music of Brazil

Historically, traditional music of Brazil has been very important to its culture. There are various types of music that you can find in Brazil, including Samba, Afro-Brazilian music, Gospel music, and Bossa nova.


Generally, Choro is instrumental music, but it can also be sung. It is often improvisational, with surprising modulations. Choro has its own rules. For example, it is usually played in three parts. The first part is the melody, which is played by the clarinet or flute, and the second and third parts are rhythm instruments.

Traditional choro ensembles are usually composed of 5-6 musicians. The instrumentation varies, but typically includes a clarinet and two violoes. The rhythm instrument is the pandeiro, a larger, more resonant tambourine.

Choro’s origins date back to the early 1900s, when European music styles, including polka and waltz, started to influence Brazilian musicians. At that time, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of the Brazilian empire, but it was soon separated from Portugal. The city underwent cultural and urban reforms. During this period, informal groups of friends played at pubs and home balls. These groups included musicians from military bands and small business owners from Africa.

As choro gained a larger following, a new generation of professional musicians was formed. The success of choro music came from the early days of radio. During the mid-1950s, choro was difficult to hear in Brazil, but it was later rediscovered by musicians in the United States. The 1990s world music boom brought choro music to a global audience.

In recent years, women have been playing Choro-based instruments. In the past, it was rare for women to play these instruments. The absence of women in music is a complex issue. It is largely a social phenomenon.

The popularity of choro has been on the decline since the mid-1950s, but it remains a significant part of Brazilian music. It continues to adapt and develop, finding new audiences and audiences from other parts of the world.


Originally played by enslaved Africans, samba is now a popular genre of music in Brazil, and has become an integral part of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival festival. Samba has a number of sub-genres, each with their own unique characteristics. It is played with a variety of instruments and untuned percussion.

Photo Credit: JIP

Aside from the drums, samba also utilizes guitars, snare drums, percussion instruments, and different types of bells. In the early 1900s, the genre began to crystallize into a more modern form. Traditionally, samba accompanies a four-string guitar known as a cavaquinho. The cavaquinho provides a connection between the harmony section and the rhythm section.

Samba originated in the Brazilian states of Maranhao and Minas Gerais. Its roots lie in African drumming traditions. The first known printed reference to samba music was found in Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil in 1838. The second was found in Bahia in 1844. This second reference did not mention enslaved Africans, but did mention a music group called the Batucada.

Eventually, samba became a music for ballroom parties, and began to be listened to by celebrities in Brazil. It was also a soundtrack for carnaval. In the 1930s, samba began to find space with the phonographic industry. The genre became popular among the white-Portuguese and middle class.

The most popular form of samba in Brazil is pagode. It usually involves a single singer. Lyrics are usually about love and hilarity. It is often accompanied by a cavaquinho or violao. It is often played at open air bars.

The rhythm section of samba usually includes a surdo, a pandeiro, and a violao. A tamborim is another important percussion instrument. This instrument is usually played by a rhythmista.

Bossa nova

Originally derived from northeastern Brazil’s caboclo folk tradition, bossa nova is a type of samba music. It has a unique rhythm and a distinctive vocal style. It also emphasizes sensuality and leisure.

The musical genre was developed by Brazilian musicians in the late 1950s. Its popularity spread around the world, particularly in the United States. Bossa nova was a fusion of samba and jazz, sometimes featuring traditional jazz instruments such as the saxophone or bass. Its lyrics describe beautiful women and blue skies.

The music began to take off in the US in the early 1960s. In 1965, the song “The Girl from Ipanema” won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The lyrics described the beauty of a woman and her buying power.

Bossa nova
Photo Credit: Uryah

The musical genre was based on collaborations between singers and composers. It became an international symbol for Brazil.

The musical genre was primarily developed by teenagers. It was a time of relative prosperity for Brazil. In this time, people from different musical backgrounds would meet in their homes and listen to music. In some cases, the musicians would play their music on instruments such as the cabasa, a wood and metal shaker.

Bossa nova was a major influence on American jazz musicians. Its delicate melodies and slinky syncopation were attractive to jazz musicians.

The musical genre was also influenced by the Brazilian class struggle. Some of the music was a protest against dictatorship.

The musical genre was primarily based on classical guitar, acoustic bass, and piano. It was also influenced by Brazilian folk music combined with rock ‘n’ roll. Its lyrics could be emotional.

The musical genre has continued to inspire artists all over the world. It has also been incorporated into the opening credits of films such as Austin Powers.

Gospel music

Throughout the last two decades, Gospel music in traditional music of Brazil has gained popularity, reaching new audiences. Gospel music is one of the fastest growing segments of the Brazilian music industry. In terms of revenue, gospel music is the second most popular genre of music in Brazil. In 2017, gospel music was estimated to generate R$1.5 billion.

Gospel music in traditional music of Brazil has several subgenres. They include ijexa, Carnaval music, sertaneja, and maracatu cearense. Carnaval music is played on large metal gongue bells. Originally, Carnaval was played to light-skinned people, but nowadays it is played to all.

The music of Brazil is influenced by European and African forms. The Portuguese introduced reed flutes and other wind instruments. They also introduced Gregorian chant and Christian lyrics to Tupi songs.

Brazilian music developed its own original styles and unique regional forms. Some of the most famous Brazilian artists were Waldir Azevedo, Jacob do Bandolim, and Pixinguinha.

The first singers of Christian music groups started to emerge in the late 1960s. The music industry has since grown to around 5,000 artists. The industry is estimated to generate R$2 billion per year. In fact, the gospel music industry in Brazil is the second largest in the world.

Streaming platforms such as Deezer and Spotify have dedicated teams to religious music. These streaming platforms seek to create relationships with evangelical music fans. These platforms record exclusive content and produce mini documentaries, podcasts, and Christian music festivals. Deezer participated in events such as Expo Evangelica and Expo Crista.

Gospel music in traditional music of Brazil is not universally admired. Many music writers from Brazil’s main newspapers write against it. But with the growing popularity of YouTube, the scene is growing.

Afro-Brazilian music

Throughout history, Brazilian music has been influenced by African music. The influence of African music is still present in the music of contemporary Brazilian artists. However, the influence of African rhythms and percussion are not a central organizing principle of Afro-Brazilian music. In fact, there is a complex continuum of influences that marks the rise of Afro-Brazilianism. This article examines these influences and discusses some of the genres that have evolved over time.

Afro-Brazilian music
Photo Credit: Ministry of Culture of Brazil

Afro-Brazilian music can be categorized into a few different genres. These include: coco, marabaixo, ijexa, and jongo. These genres are made up of various influences, such as Brazilian, Caribbean, African, and Latin rhythms. Each style has its own unique sonic identity.

Coco is a genre that originated in Northeastern Brazil. It features a mix of jazz and samba. The music was popularized by Luiz, a musician who moved to Rio de Janeiro. He became a national success and popularized Afro-samba. He also popularized the use of forro. He played on radio regularly and played fox trots. He also toured the world as a musician.

Marabaixo is a genre that incorporates samba and candomble musical elements. The music originated from a reenactment of the ceremonies of the Congo kings. The music is said to have been created by the descendants of Bantu people. The instruments used are agbe, a West African axatse gourd instrument. The instrument is low pitched and resembles a European field drum.

The ijexa genre was developed in the 1970s. This genre is characterized by a strong use of percussion and horns. The song “Varias Queixas” by Olodum is an example of this genre.

Axe is another Afro-Brazilian genre. The music is characterized by the use of percussion and local traditions.