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Samba is the most famous of the various forms of music arising from African roots in Brazil. The name samba most probably comes from the Angolan semba (mesemba ) - a religious rhythm. Samba developed as a distinctive kind of music at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio de Janeiro (then the capital of Brazil) under the strong influence of immigrant black people from Bahia.
"Pelo Telefone" (1917), by Donga and Mauro Almeida , is generally considered the first samba recording. Its great success carried the new genre outside the black ghettos. Who created the music is uncertain, but it was probably the work of the group around Tia Ciata , among them Pixinguinha and João da Bahiana .
In the 1930s, a group of musicians led by Ismael Silva founded in the neighbourhood of Estácio de Sá the first Samba School , Deixa Falar . They transformed the musical genre to make it fit better the carnival parade. In this decade, the radio spread the genre's popularity all around the country, and with the support of the nationalist dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas, samba became Brazil's "official music".
In the following years, samba developed in several directions, from the gentle samba-canção to the drum orchestras which make the soundtrack of carnival parade. One of these new styles was the bossa nova, made by middle class white people. It got increasingly popular over time, with the works of João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
In the sixties, Brazil was politically divided, and the leftist musicians of bossa nova started to gather attention to the music made in the favelas. Many popular artists were discovered at this time. Names like Cartola , Nelson Cavaquinho , Velha Guarda da Portela , Zé Keti , and Clementina de Jesus recorded their first albums.
In the beginning of the eighties, after having been sent to the underground due to styles like disco and Brazilian rock, Samba reappeared in the media with a musical movement created in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. It was the pagode, a renewed samba, with new instruments, like the banjo and the tantan, and a new language, more popular, filled with slangs. The most popular names were Zeca Pagodinho , Almir Guineto , Grupo Fundo de Quintal , Jorge Aragão , and Jovelina Pérola Negra .
Nowadays, samba is still one of the most popular musical genres in Brazil.
- McGowan, Chris and Pessanha, Ricardo. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil. 1998. 2nd edition. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-545-3
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