Samba is a musical genre and dance form that emerged in Brazil, whose roots come from Africa during the time of West African slavery, and are traced back to African religious traditions, especially those in Angola and in Congo. Samba lovers are called sambists.
It is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian carnival. Considered one of the most cult expressions of Brazil, samba is part of the Brazilian national identity. A national day centered on samba, the national samba day, is celebrated annually on December 2. The date was set by Luis Monteiro da Costa, city councilor of Salvador, in honor of Ary Barroso. He will be the composer of Na Baixa do Sapateiro although he has never set foot in Bahia. Thus, December 2 will mark the first meeting of Ary Barroso and Salvador.
Samba is a local style in the south and north of Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and Belo Horizonte. Its importance in Brazilian music cuts across all regions of the country, however; samba schools, samba musicians and carnival organizers focused on samba performance are found across the country. Rio de Janeiro being the most famous Brazilian city in the world, samba is usually used to identify Brazilians.
Samba was born in the working-class neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro at the start of the 20th century, especially around Praça Onze. At the end of the 19th century, with the abolition of slavery, many former slaves went to this great city (at the time capital of the country) to work in the docks, as street vendors or as servants . They brought with them their African dances and percussions.
The first recorded samba is Pelo telefone, in 1916, by the singer Donga. The first sambas were very influenced by other rhythms of the time, such as the maxix (a very fast rhythm) and the marcha (a simple, binary and lively rhythm).
Artists such as Pixinguinha, Donga, Heitor dos Prazeres, Ismael Silva and Sinhô have gradually developed the basics of samba: 2/4 or 4/4 music whose rhythmic structure can be reduced to 2/4, the time strong being on the second beat, with a rich accompaniment in syncopated melodic lines. The rhythm is mainly given by percussion instruments, guitar and cavaquinho.
Samba became the music of carnival around 1930, it was previously considered too obscene, brutal and violent. The first samba schools were made up of small groups of little more than fifty people who paraded without costumes to the sound of percussion.
These groups, called "blocos", compete in audacity and imagination, the very first to make themselves known being Deixa Falar, in 1928, in the district called Estacio in Rio de Janeiro. Very quickly, these parades are organized and transformed into competitions.
The first of these dates from 1932 and sees the victory of Mangueira. In 1935, the schools were officially registered as Gremio (recreational circles).
The samba develops and formalizes within the framework of this immense popular festival, through the rhythmic, melodic part and the dance which accompanies it. It then allows all strata of society to express themselves and let off steam. In the 1940s and 1950s, the identity of each of the samba schools was built, between the choice of recognition colors and the musical choices: the word school then also took on its sense of doctrine, with its teachers and their disciples.
The costumes are, however, still made up only of uniforms. The introduction of the sound system for songs in 1961, by Mangueira, gives a new dimension to themed sambas (samba do enredo). It is in a way the golden age of music for samba schools [ref. necessary].
The mid-1960s marked the return to the forefront of many great artists of the first generation of sambista from the 1930s: Ismael Silva, Cartola, Clementina de Jesus, Nelson Cavaquinho, Velha Guarda da Portela ... Young performers , especially from bossa nova rediscover and interpret the compositions of these pioneering artists.
This renaissance is structured in particular around the Zicartola, a bar run by Cartola, founder of the Mangueira school and his wife Zica, where the young and the old guard meet.
The years 1960-1970 were at the center of a “plastic revolution”, with the participation of the middle classes, which brought new aesthetictrends. Samba schools work on their image with the often spontaneous contribution of famous artists.