Song form used by cowboys in Brazil's arid northeast (sertão) to herd cattle. Loose melodies consist of yelps, commands and expostulations, lyrics having never developed.


Portugese lullaby.


Brazilian ritual candomblé music from the Northeastern coastal state of Bahia. Parading Canaval groups (blocos afro), especially around the city of Salvadore, have adopted the music for decades. Tradition began with Bloco Pandegos da Africa (Revelers of Africa) in the 1890s, thrived, then by the early 1970s the only group left was Filhos de Ghandhi. Revived in 1974 by the Vovo and Apolinio groups, the success of the Graceland LP, and singer Margareth Menezes. In 1977 Gilberto Gil, a regular supporter, developed "funky afoxé" and in the late 1990s became a official in the bloco, O Filios de Ghandi.


Brazilian samba variation that emphasizes African elements and dances, like afoxé.


Brazilian dance form with African influences.


19th c. Brazilian song form/dance with strong African influence, similar to the lundu in 2/4 time.


A lundu-like Brazilian air.


One of the many 19th century country / square dances of northeastern Brazil that contributed to forr-. Means "Foot-dragging".


Yoruba word for "life force" and applied in Brazil to a wide variety of Arican derived Bahian pop musics.


A fetish song associated with macumba ritual found in various regions of Brazil.


Often confused with forro (some say a division of forro, others that forro a very fast baiao.) the baiao was a 19th c. folkloric circle dance from the Northeast of Brazil. Original instrumentation was the guitar (later accordion or sanfona), triangle and zabumba bass drum. In the mid to late 40s the baião and the forro were transformed and popularized by Luis Gonzaga who moved to Rio, entertaining a growing population of emmigrant Northeastern laborors and performing on the radio. Gonzaga made the binary form a steady 2/4 throughout and the dance prospered. As popular as the samba in the 1950s, less so by the 1960s.


The general Spanish and New World Hispanic term for all secular popular dance music and the dance event. literally means "dance."


When capoeiristas are heated in the roda, this special rhythm is played to calm them.


A popular Bahian Afro-Brazilian dance that is similar to the samba.


A samba-like Afro-Brazilian dance.


A drum session including various percussive instruments.

Batuque (batuka; Batuco)

Now used as a generic name for Afro-Brazilian dances, Batuque was originally a traditional form of Afro-Brazilian music and dance that originated in the eighteenth century; Religion of northern Brazil; drum used in rural samba called "jongo".


A popular Afro-Brazilian dance found in regions surrounding Bahia.

Bossa Nova

A style of music made popular by hip musicians and avant-garde poets in Rio de Janeiro during the late 1950's. It combines a syncopated guitar playing style developed by Joao Gilberto, subdued vocals, cool jazz harmonic elements, and traditional Brazilian rhythms. Bossa Nova artists were mostly white, however a leading boss nova guitarist, Bola Sete, is an exception.


Brega can be used as a broad term to describe some exaggerated or dramatic features in different styles and can be used to describe a musical genre.

As a broad meaning Brega is an "informal term applied to a whole body of mass-oriented popular music, its meaning had roots in broader socioeconomic phenomena" (Araujo, 1988: 50). In this meaning Brega is not related to one specific musical genre, but it is an aesthetic concept that has one or combines several adjectives, such as vulgar, dated, kitsch, exaggerated, "cheesy", extremely sentimental, melodramatic, inauthentic, fake, etc. Further the term can be used to point out some "defects" of musical styles, as well as to justify, to valorize and to make fun with "cheesy" concepts. The term, in this way, can be applied, but not exclusively, to Brazilian rock, pagode, sertanejo, funk, romantic music and even to classical music.

As a musical genre, in the beginning, Brega was associated with melodramatic Romantic songs composed for low-income classes. In this context the genre has poor melodic lines and very simple harmonies. Lyrics vary from romantic love to maternal love, and from heartbroken to irresistible sex appeal. Examples in this tendency are Roberto Carlos (Jovem Guarda and later Romantic styles), Sidney Magal (Romantic Brega), Agepê (Romantic Samba), Xitãozinho e Xororó (Brega Sertanejo, Agnaldo Timoteo (Romantic Brega), Wando (Romantic Brega), Reginaldo Rossi (Romantic Brega), Grupo Raç a Negra (Brega pagode) etc. From the 1980's some middle class composers started a humoristic Brega tendency. Among these composers are Eduardo Dusek (Brega Rock/comic), Kid Vinil (Brega Rock/comic), Mamonas Assassinas (Brega Rock/comic) and Falcão (Brega Comic).    Fernanda Pereira


Bumba-meu-boi (or boi-bumbá, boi de mamão) is a folkloric dramatic dance centered in the figure of a bull (boi). This folkloric expression is stronger in the Northeast (mainly in Maranhão) and North (Amazonas) areas, but it can be found as well as in the rest of the country. The performances are in the Christmas season and in the St. John cycle. "Some have interpreted it as a totemistic retention of Amerindian or African cultures. Others have attributed its origin to the old European folk tradition of the bull and donkey in the Nativity scene" (Behague). The plot is centered in the story of death and resurrection of the bull, but it is common to find new stories intermingled. In the main story Pai Francisco (trustful slave in the farm) decides to kill a bull that belongs to his master. Francisco prepares a dish with the bull's tongue in order to satisfy his pregnant wife's (Catirina) desire. When the bull's owner discovers the death of his animal he sends his men to capture Francisco. Francisco is caught and in order to keep his life he calls a doctor and a pajé (kind of priest for indigenous people in Brazil) to resurrect the bull. Besides these main characters the story has secondary characters, such as other animals and groups of indigenous and cowboys. The plot is developed through dialogues, dances and music. Each character has its own dance and they are ordered in the sequence of the plot. The songs are called "Toadas" and they have "four-bar phrases, descending motion ending on the dominant, isometric rhythm and syncopations" (Behague). Instrumentation includes viola, guitar, cavaquinho, accordion, piccolo, fife, clarinet, trombone, trumpet, saxophone, fiddle and percussion such as zabumba, tambourine, ganzá and maraca.

Nowadays in a city called Parintins (Amazonas) the bumba-meu-boi is presented in a huge folkloric festival (Parintins Folkloric Festival). This event represents the second-largest annual festival in Brazil; the first one is the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro. In the Parintins festival there is a contest between two groups "Caprichoso" and "Garantido" that represent every year the bull's story. This contest takes place in a "Bumbódromo" that supports 35.000 people in the audience. A musical hit (Bate Forte o Tambor) from the group "Caprichoso" released in 1996 was an enormous popular success throughout the country. This festival mixes the traditional representation with elements of "commercial popular music". Despite this huge production, in other areas, the bumba-meu-boi still keeps its early and original characteristics.    Fernanda Pereira


A group that dresses as Amerindians, plays flutes, and parades during Carnaval.

Caboclo, Cabocla

A Brazilian dance that is either nostalgic or merry.


A simple couple's dance with 2/4 meter that is popular in Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro states.


A dance originating in rural Brazil.


Invented by Vieira, a Paraense guitarist, in the late 1980s, cambara combines the elements of cumbia, mambo, carimba, and lambada.

cana-verde, Caninha-Verde

A Brazilian dance that is thought to have Portuguese origins, the cana-verde is a couple's dance whereby men and women sing to one another, change places, and make pairs.


A song type from Portugal and Brazil that came after the modinha.

Canção Praieira

Literally translated to "fisherman's song."


A slow Brazilian tune in 2/4 time


A Brazilian melody similar to the candeia.


A dance similar to the macumba that is found in Bahia.


Primarily practiced in Bahia, candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion that is the most closely related to old West African practices. The music of candomblé uses pentatonic and hexatonic scales and three atabaques (rum, rump, and le). Candomblé is often referred to as macumba in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

candomblé or pontos de candomblé

Religious songs sung for deities in the candomblé religion.


A Brazilian folk song similar to an Italian "barcarole."


Song and dance form from Brazil.


Brazilian term for a "song"


Music from Bahia, Brazil. Organized around the berimbau (gourd attached to bow, with one steel string tied around each end). Afro-Brazilian martial arts music. Note: this is technically a dance, not a form of music.


A fast Brazilian dance done in 2/4 time.


A dance that originated in Brazil and Cuba, was introduced into Lagos by freed slaves.


An Afro-brazilian dance that originated in northern Brazil during Portuguese colonization. The music has a fast tempo and is heavily percussive, featuring a drum which is also called carimbó. The dance has changed over time, taking on characteristics of traditional Caribbean and French/Spanish dance styles.


A type of desafio with a rapid tempo.

catereté, catira

An Amerindian dance that is performed by couples. Dancers of the catereté are accompanied by a singer and violas.


An Indo-Brazilian fetish song that is popular in Northwest Brazil.


Song and dance that is accompanied by drums and hand clapping. Also refers to an Afro-Brazilian percussion instrument.


An eighteenth century lustful and sensual dance.


A dance of Afro-Brazilian origin.


Southern Brazilian cowboy (gaucho) dance / song form.

choro, Chorinho

Widest meaning = instrumental urban band. Dominant instruments are the woodwinds; flute, clarinet, ophicleide and saxophone as well as guitars and cavaquinhos. Worked in concert ensembles, at dances and to accompony vocalists. When samba hit (or a few years after 1956) vocals sung with the voice acting like a woodwind with leaps were added, forming the samba-choro. Began around 1870, sounds a bit like dixieland jazz combo, slightly predates ragtime and jazz. Two suggestions for the name "Choro" in Portuguese means "the act of weeping or sobbing," because of the somewhat meloncholy sound, despite the many merry & playful tunes. "Xolo" old Afro Brazilian word for party or dance. Major component was the derrubada or "drop" which was a duel between the the soloist and the accompanyists, where the work would be so complicated and unpredictable that they could no longer follow. Only one soloist was used, unlike much jazz. Originally amateurs, between 1870 and 1919 hundreds of groups that played parties or went house to house for food and drink. By the teens choro codified into a binary rhythm in a medium to fast tempo. Choro has gone up and down in popularity, but it is still a part of every musician's vocabulary.


A style of samba that is heavily percussive. Chula dance is commonly practiced during dance festivals.


A Brazilian children's circle dance with a rapid tempo in 2/4 time. Originated in Portugal.


A dance that is practiced in the Brazilian jungle.


An African influenced music/dance that features call and response singing and stomping.


Colcheia is the word for a rhythmic figure (eigth note).

congada, congo

An African and Iberian influenced dance featuring a highly syncopated rhythm.


A samba-type song containing rapid even notes.


Not a genre, but implying a rhythmic mix from a group of assorted percussion instruments.


A song similar to the congada; a Brazilian drum.


A dance originating in the jungles of Brazil, performed in 2/4 time.

Dança do Maçarico

Taking its name from an Amazonian bird, the Dança do Maçarico is a circle dance whereby women imitate the movement of a bird.


Synonym for "fricote"; To change and play with a musical form.


A improvised musical conversation between two vocalists which is accompanied by short instrumental passages between dialogue. It can be sung in short phrases with a rapid tempo or with a moderate tempo.


Spanish and New World Hispano religious songs or solemn hymns of farewell (literally, "taking leave") that are sung at burials.


A song/dance with a moderately syncopated rhythm, fast tempo, 2/4 meter, short notes, small musical intervals, and improvised stanzas.


Spanish and New World Hispanic semi-religious "delivery" song that are sung to accompany and mark rites of passage in daily life. One example from New Mexico is "Entrega de Novios" ("The Delivery of the Newlyweds"), a folk song in lively waltz time with much improvisational verse.


A Brazilian dance performed in a circle.

fado de lisboa

Fados sung in both Bazil and Portigal in the form of a contest, the two antagonists trying to outsing, insult, and good naturedly challenge each other in their improvised verse.


Portugese dance of the eighteenth century of African ancestry, with a reputation for suggestiveness and a possible influence on fado.


Not a genre. Describes a folk party.


15th c. dance form common to Brazil and Portugal. In Spain a dramatic solo dance with castanet accompaniment, in a slow tempo and 3/4 time.


A recently created slowed down variation on Surinamese aleke music created by young maroons. From "funky".


Primarily the music of the sertão, Brazil's hot arid inhospitable northeastern plains, and variations played by emigrees to the coastal cities of Recife, Rio and Sao Paulo in the 40s. Some of the rural dances that make up música nordestina and invariably found their way into forro include arrasta-pé, xóte, xaxado, quadrilha, and baião. Strong Portugese and minimal African influence. A traditional forró ensemble is an unamplified trio, quartet or quintet, made up of an accordion, triangle, and a shallow bass drum called a zabumba, while modern bands now play with full rock instrumentation.

Frevo & trio eletrico

Originated 1909 when a Zuzinha (Captain José Lourenco da Silva), director of the Pernambuco Military Brigade band increased the tempo of the traditional polka-march. Began being played in clubs in Recife during carnival in 1917. From the verb "ferver," which means to boil. In 1950 Dodô and Osmar rode in the back of a Ford pickup at Carnival, playing frevo with portable ambs on electric guitar and electric cavaquinho. In 1951 they added a third instrumentalist, and winding their way through the narrow streets the trio eletrico was born. By the 1970s, the performance included many musicians, fans, and dancers on large flat bed trucks with massive amps and speaker systems with crowds following behind. Frevo instrumental improvisational music is much associated with the trios and takes much from other styles. THe style can be considered hyperkinetic, always looking for hooks and gimicks. Many new hybrids were created in Salvadore in the 1970s & 1980s. One of the earliest was Os Novos Baianos (the New Bahians) in the late 1960, early 1970s, fronted by guitar virtuoso, Pepeu Gomes, who mixed frevo and rock. Osmar's son, Armandinho, who played mandolin and cavaquinho, is also in this band. He and Dadi, the basist, formed Cor de Som (Color of Sound) when Baianos broke up in 1976. Another star of this group, singer-guitarist Moraes Moreira, had a big career in the 1980s, playing with the new wave of fusions mixing black rhythms and styles with the trio base. In northern Pernambuco, guitarist Robertinho de Recife, who added rock and merengue.


A form of song that was introduced in Luis Calda's 1985 song, "Fricote". They form mixes ijexá and reggae.


A style of big band samba. Alcione a major practicioner.


Spanish dance form that took root in Colonial South and central America. In Brazil a folk song and dance form.


Modern electric guitar genre from Para, Brazil, influenced by lambada, chorinho, machiche, and marchinha among others.

iç iç iç

A Brazilian expression in rock music, comparable to "yeah yeah yeah" in English rock songs.


The rhythm found in afoxé songs.


A dance originating in the Brazilian countryside.


New rhythm from Brazil, created circa 2004.


Personal Brazilian samba style invented by Mario Albanese in 5/4.

Jongo (Brazil)

Jongo (tambu, batuque, tambor and caxambu) is an African-Brazilian cultural expression that combines dance, music and poetry. Jongo appeared in Brazil as a slave's feast in the southeast sugar cane and coffee farms between the XVII and XIX centuries. The slaves were mainly of Bantu origins (Angola) and the feast was a moment to celebrate their culture and identity. Jongo does not have religious connotation and partially because of this and because slave owners were forced to negotiate with slaves some moment to relax, Jongo was allowed. After the slavery period, Jongo survived until nowadays in poor southeast rural or semi-rural communities of ex-slaves descendents. In 2005 Brazilian authorities considered it as a cultural patrimony and today some of these communities receive government support. One of these famous communities is the "Jongo da Serrinha" located in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro.

In a Jongo feast people form a circle in which everybody sings and dances. There is a soloist singer who sings "Pontos" (word for song inside jongo communities) and all the others repeat in unison the same melody (responsorial structure). "Pontos" are accompanied generally by two drums: "tambu" (which execute a ostinato rhythmic pattern that can be conceived as a binary compound meter or as a simple meter with triplets) and "caxambu" (which plays some variations on the tambu pattern). Melodies are generally in a simple binary meter, but there are many triplets following the drums patterns. Melodic phrases are short and simple and sometimes there is a strophe and refrain structure. Many melodies were transmitted orally from generation to generation, but many of them were lost. Some scholars have transcribed or recorded melodies in order to preserve the tunes. Lyric's subject varies from every day activities to references to slave's lives. During the slavery period lyrics sometimes were sang in Bantu, which allowed slaves to criticize their owners and to celebrate black heroes. Some jongos' lyrics are improvised and some of them have charades to be deciphered. The dance has several steps. While the dancers on the circle basically keep the beat with their feet, a couple goes to the center of the circle and execute different and complex steps, which may include an "umbigada" simulation (touching each others' belly). It is a simulation because the bellies do not touch for real, different from other dances such as "Maxixe" and "Lundu".

Jongo feast started in "Senzalas" (space in the farms reserved for slaves) and moved to the back yard of houses after the slavery period. Today it can be seen, besides the communities' houses, in public squares, private parties, clubs, etc. Jongo also reached different social and cultural strata. Several classical and popular composers, such as Francisco Mignone, João Pernambuco and Paulo Belinatti, composed instrumental pieces based on jongos.   Fernanda Pereira

Jovem Guarda

Evolved from a Brazilian musical television show, Jovem Guarda, was a movement that was linked to American and English rock. Sometimes it is referred to as "iê-iê-ê", like French yéyé. Roberto Carlos, Erasmo Carlos, and Wanderléa are artists of the Jovem Guarda movement.


A term of uncertain origins, beginning in the late 1960s lambada was used to describe a fusion of merengue and carimbo with other Caribbean influences. The style features 2/4 rhythm, syncopation, and a fast tempo. The term can also refer to a close, partnered dance that developed during the 1920s from the controversial ballroom dance the maxixe, and a ritual "entwining" dance of Amazon Indians from the island of Marajo.


A type of desafio that has a rapid tempo and short rhythmic phrases.


A slow melody.


Lundu (landum, lundum, londu) may refer to a dance, song (canç ão) or instrumental piece from the 18th century with African roots. As a dance it fused African and Iberian elements. It started as a slave's dance, but reached other social strata. The choreography with separated pairs included: fingers snapping (similar to Spanish hand movements), hands on the forehead or on the hips, tip toes movements, rounded hip movements and "umbigada" (movement of touching each others belly) (Lima, 2010:1-2). Another important aspect of the dance is the ball organization. All the people, including musicians, form a circle and participate in singing and clapping hands, while each pair of dancers dances alone (Sandroni, 2001:64).

The Lundu-canção (song) or instrumental Lundu generally has binary meter and it is composed in major keys. Ludu's form and phraseology used structures similar to European pieces composed in the early 18th century (classical-gallant style) (Lima 2010: 10). Lundus do not have a fixed form, but some of the analyzed lundus have "Theme and Variation" structures. Phrases are regular and symmetrical and they have a happy character with satiric and sly lyrics (Severiano, 2008:20). Instrumentation varies: percussive instruments, Portuguese viola, violin, flute, harpsichord, piano, etc. Generally composers who composed Modinhas also wrote Lundus, among them are: Domingos Caldas Barbosa, Cândido Inácio da Silva, Francisco Manoel da Silva, Father Teles and Henrique Alves de Mesquita (Severiano 2008: 20).

First references to the word Lundu as a dance appeared in historical documents around 1780 (Cravo-Albin), before this all the slave's dances were generically called Batuques. In a letter wrote by D. José da Cunha Grã Athayde e Mello in 1780, the Lundu is mentioned as a dance practiced by white and black people (Cravo-Albin). As a song it is possible to find Lundu-canç ões within Domigos Caldas Barbosa's compositions (18th century). Instrumental Lundus can only be found in the 19th century and it appeared as a genre played with Portuguese violas, mandolins or harpsichords (Cravo Albin). The first reference to instrumental Lundus appears in the book Brazilian Popular songs and Indigenous Melodies by Spix and Martius (German travelers, who visited Brazil between 1817 and 1820). The book has, among other works, the piece "Landum Brasilianische Volktanz". This Lundu has a theme variation structure with a small motive built on the tonic and dominant harmony. Classical and popular composers composed song and instrumental Lundus.   Fernanda Pereira


A Brazilian stick fighting dance with an African influence, performed with both sticks and machetes, said to use movements imitating the cutting of sugar cane.


Over arching term, and perhaps a misnomer, for a variety of Bazilian dances with a heavy African influence, including the batuque, caboclo, candomble, catimbo, pajelanca, (pagelatica) umbanda and xango. Also describes an Afro-Brazilian religion that originated in Rio, as well as the music played during Macumba ritual.


A Brazilian song that is similar to the modinha.


Afro-Brazilian music that usually features trumpets and percussion. The accompanying dancers feature a king and queen.; A carnaval group that consists of a small percussion orchestra, female dancers, and a male singer, all of whom wear ornate costumes. The man carries a large umbrella representing the sun and the head dancer carries a doll. The singer and dancers engage in a call and response song as they parade.


Parading quicktempoed and slightly syncopated dance common to South and Central America, as well as Hispanic North America where it is still common at weddings in Texas, So. Cal, and New Mexico.


Marcha-Rancho is a carnival genre developed in the middle of the 19th century. Marcha-Rancho, as well as Marchinhas (see marchinha entry), was influenced by Portuguese theatrical companies, which brought many marches to Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century. The name Marcha-Rancho appeared because of Ranchos (street carnival groups). These groups developed elaborate parades with large musical ensembles that played solemn and slower marches (Marcha-Rancho).

"Marcha-rancho" uses binary meter, is slower than "Marchinhas" and has more elaborated and longer melodic phrases. Lyrics are nostalgic and sentimental (Severiano, 2008). Instrumentation is similar to those used for Marchinhas (jazz bands or choro ensembles/regionais). Most composers wrote both genres, Marchas-Ranchos and Marchinhas. Some examples of these composers are Lamartine Babo, João de Barros (Braguinha) Ze-Keti, Max Nunes e Laercio Alves. Marchinha's interpretes sang Marchas-Ranchos as well.    Fernanda Pereira


Marchinha (literally "little march") is predominantly a Carnival genre (Dic Cravo Albin). Marchinha's main characteristics are: duple meter (rarely quadruple division) with strong accent on the downbeat; the form is structured with an instrumental introduction and strophe/refrain division; melodies are short, simple and happy; lyrics are satiric with political, social or cultural subjects. Instrumentation varies from big ensembles (similar to big bands) to smaller groups (similar to Choro ensembles: classical 6 and 7 strings guitars, mandolin, cavaquinho, flute and percussion). Different from Samba, Marchinha is a middle class genre developed in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Some important composers are: Chiquinha Gonzaga, José Francisco de Freitas, Ary Barroso, Lamartine Babo, Nássara, João de Barro (Braguinha), Wilson Batista, Haroldo Lobo e Alberto Ribeiro. Important interpreters were: Carmen Miranda, Aurora Miranda, Dircinha Batista, Linda Batista, Emilinha Borba, Marlene, Francisco Alves, Orlando Silva, Silvio Caldas and others.

The genre appeared in the 19th century and was one of the most prevalent carnival genres between 1920 and 1960. From 1970 to 1990 it was abandoned because of the decay of the street carnival in the city of Rio de Janeiro. From the 2000's, with the renaissance of the street carnival, the genre has been cultivated again.

In the 19th century the Portuguese theatrical companies brought many marches that reached a great success in Rio de Janeiro. The Carnival Marches (marchinhas) derivate mainly from these marches. The composer Chiquinha Gonzaga wrote the first carnival march, "O abre alas", in 1899 for the carnival group called "Rancho Rosa de Ouro", but there are references to "Marchas" since 1857 (Diniz, 2008). Since marchinha is predominantly a carnival genre it is important to have some comments about carioca carnival as well.

Rio's street carnival groups in the 19th and early 20th century were drawn from all social classes, varying widely in organization, instrumentation and costuming (Diniz, 2008). Those known as "Ranchos" were drawn from the middle class and incorporated wind and string instruments along with arias of famous operas to differentiate themselves from the "Blocos dos Sujos" (dirty groups) who only used percussion instruments when parading (Diniz, 2008). Ranchos called their commissioned compositions "marcha-rancho", this sophisticated take on the march developing into a genre of its own. Other groups called themselves "Corso", "Sociedades" and "Cordão," each performing different musical genres.

Carnival march was a well-established genre in the 1920's (Dic. Cravo Albin). By this time, the genre fused influences from Portuguese marches, American one-steps and charlestons and polka-marches (Severiano, 2008). From the 1930's there were annual contests to choose the best carnival march. In the first contest, organized by the recording label "Casa Edison", the song "Dá nela" by Ary Barroso won the first prize (Dic Cravo Albin). In the following decades until the 1970's the genre reached an enormous popularity that was helped by radios, movies, theater and recordings. Between 1970's and 1990 the genre practically disappeared because the street groups (Ranchos, Blocos, Cordões, etc) finished or were organized into larger groups called "Samba Schools". In the 2000's there was a cultural movement, supported primarily by middle class, that gradually reconstructed the street carnival groups: "Blocos", "Ranchos", "Cordões", etc. With the revitalization of street carnival one of its main genre, the "Marchinha", was also revived. This cultural reconstruction was so successful that in 2011 there was a "Marchinha" contest with 947 competitors (Dic. Cravo Albin). The contest was broadcasted nationally and old and new "Marchinhas" regained the streets.    Fernanda Pereira


A moderate-tempo tune performed as part of a desafio.


Festive play which includes singing and dancing. Literally translated as "marine adventure."


Maxixe refers to an urban dance and a musical genre developed around 1860/70 in the city of Rio de Janeiro among lower income classes. The dance was considered in the beginning filthy and rude, but later gained acceptance. Maxixe was the first Brazilian popular dance with enlaced pairs, and mixed polka and lundu's steps (Sandroni, 2001:69). Maxixe's balls general organization was similar to European balls in the 19th century, in which all the pairs of dancers danced simultaneously. The music was instrumental only, and the musicians were grouped in a small ensemble detached from the dancing space. In the beginning the word Maxixe was only related to a dance style. The Maxixe was danced with different musical genres, such as: polkas, lundus and Brazilian-tangos. The Maxixe as a dance and the musical genre called Maxixe did not necessarily appear in same context.

The first register of a Maxixe as a musical genre appeared in 1887 ("Ora Bolas" by Juca Storoni). Maxixe is among several genres (waltz, polkas, Brazilian-tangos, schottisches, mazurkas, lundus, etc) played in Choro ensembles in the late 19th century. Maxixe is considered as one of the precursors of Choro and Samba, since it uses a similar syncopated accompaniment pattern. Melodies are fast with symmetrical and regular phrases. It is written in binary meter and generally the main keys are majors (modulations are generally to closely related keys). Forms are not fixed but most of Maxixes have symmetrical structures, such as: section 1, section 2 and repetition of section 1 (ABA, ABACA, etc). Instrumentation is the same used in choro ensembles. Main composers are Chiquinha Gonzaga, Sinhô, João Pernambuco, Pixiguinha, etc.

The Maxixe dance appeared in a neighborhood called Cidade Nova (New City). This area, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, was designated to free slaves (African descendents) and poor people. The imperial court (Portuguese descendents) and several aspects of popular culture, from diverse groups, influenced this community. In the beginning the Maxixe dance was restrict to this neighborhood, but later it spread among other social groups. In1880 Maxixe was announced in newspapers as part of theatrical presentations and in carnival's balls organized by middle class groups, such as Clube dos Democráticos/Democratic Club and Sociedade Carnavalesca Estudantes de Heidelberg/Carnival Society Heidelberg Students (Sandroni, 2001: 62-63). The dance was considered obscene because it mixed Lundu and polka's choreography. In a broad sense, Lundu had sensual waist and hip movements and polka had enlaced pairs. Balls with enlaced pairs were introduced in Brazil around 1840 through Portuguese, who brought waltz and polkas (Sandroni, 2008: 64-65). This new fashion style of dancing was accepted among rich and urban groups, but it was considered too "advanced" in rural and conservative areas.

Everything related to Maxixe around 1860 was considered vulgar, thus composers did not use the word Maxixe to classify their pieces. Instead, composers called their compositions as "Habaneras-polkas-lundu", "Tango-lundu", etc. The word Maxixe is only used as a musical genre from 1887 on. Therefore, it is possible to find Maxixes hidden behind different names. This problematic classification of genres in the period was also emphasized by the fact that composers were mixing different genres with some particular rhythmic patterns derivate from what is called "Tresillo paradigm" (Snadroni: 2001: 82). In the late 19th century musicians did not distinguish clearly between one genre and the other because they were using a similar accompaniment patterns in all of the genres. Today, any musician in a choro ensemble knows different rhythmic patterns to accompany Maxixes, Choros, Polkas, Brazilian-tangos, etc.    Fernanda Pereira


Portuguese sentimental song

moda de viola

A folk song that is found in central and southeastern Brazil. A moda de viola is performed by two guitarists/vocalists.


Modinha (lit. little moda) is a Portuguese and Brazilian sentimental song common in the 18th and 19th centuries. The genre does not have a fixed form; meter is variable; lyrics' subjects are generally love, nature and contemplation; and melodic phrases can be short and simple as well as long and complex. As an urban salon song, Modinhas used basically piano or viola (from the 19th century the classical guitar, as it is known today, substituted the viola) as accompaniment. Some composers made orchestral or chamber arrangement as the genre became more elaborated. Important composers/interpreters were Domingos Caldas Barbosa (18th century), Joaquim Manoel da Camara (19th century), Cândido José de Araújo Vianna (Marques de Sapucaí- 19th century), Cândido Inácio da Silva (19th century), Father José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1786-1830), Francisco Manoel da Silva (1795-1865), etc.

Modinhas origins and character are still a debate among musicologists (Dic. Cravo Albin). On one hand, some scholars consider that the genre is derivate from Portuguese modas (generic name for song in Portugal) (Andrade, 1964) and that they were sophisticated and stylized as operatic arias. On the other hand, other authors contend that the genre appeared in Brazil as a popular song and traveled to Portugal in the 18th century. (Tinhorão, 1998) (Severiano, 2008). The facts registered and studied about modinha are that in the 18th century the famous Brazilian composer, Domingos Caldas Barbosa, worked in the Portuguese court. In this period the genre had a more popular character and was mainly accompanied by viola. Nonetheless as the genre became a great success, classical composers started mixing it to the operatic Italian style (Severiano, 2008). When the Portuguese court moved to Brazil in the beginning of the 19th century, the genre was similar to opera arias. The genre survived through the 20th century with different styles. Among the composers who wrote modinhas are as Villa-Lobos, Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque.    Fernanda Pereira

música caipira

Musical folklore from rural Brazil.

música erudita

Music that is between classical and popular folk music.

música sertaneja

Influenced by Bolivian and Paraguayan music as well as American country music, música sertaneja are pop music versions of Brazilian idioms.

MPB or Musica Popular Brasileira

Brazilian popular music. A general term for post-bossa Brazilian music that does not fall into a more specific category such as samba, jazz, rock, etc.


An type of samba that originated in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s and became popular throughout Brazil in the 1980s. Pagode is informal and improvised. Originally composed through a round robin of people at a party each contributing a line of a verse.

pajelanca, pagelatica

One of a variety of Brazilian dances with a heavy African influence, similar to or described as macumba.

partido alto

Partido Alto is a style of samba that has three main characteristics: a responsorial structure, lighter accompaniment and rhythmic variation. In the responsorial structure the soloist sings improvised strophes and a choral sings fixed refrains. Sambas' accompaniments are generally very ample with a huge set of percussive instruments and of plucked strings. Differently, Partido Alto requires a reduced number of instruments (pandeiro, surdo, acoustic guitar and cavaquinho) in order to emphasize the improvised strophes. The most common rhythmic division in sambas is based on what became known as Estácio paradigm (Sandroni: 2001). However, Partido Alto uses a variation of this groove in a slower tempo. Important composers and/or singers are: Clementina de Jesus, Candeia, Bezerra da Silva and Aniceto do Império.   Fernanda Pereira

pernambuco or Kicking Cans

A style of music unique to the northeast of Brazil. With a brassy jazz sound, Pernambuco blends Brazilian and European influences.


Aurino Conçalves. "O Rei Do Carimbo" ("the King of Carimbo"). Black artist in his 60s from the Amazonian/Caribbean city of Belém, in the State of Pará, who claims the first use of the word lambada, and the invention of the rhythm, in the mid-1970s, when the word appears on his LP sleeves. Says the word deried from the local slang for a double shot, two fingers, of cachaça.


Melody of African origin

quadrille or quadrilha

Quadrilha (quadrille) is dance and a musical genre. Quadrilhas as a dance have a long trajectory. Different dances, originated in Britain (17th century), called country-dances are the roots of quadrilles. These dances were widespread throughout Europe in the 18th century. In the 19th century, in France, some country-dances (contredanses) were grouped and formed what is known as quadrille. The French quadrille dances (contredanses) are: Le Pantalon, L'Été, La Poule, La Pasturrele and La Finale. The dance is complex and follows 9 different choreographic movements performed by 4 pair of dancers. In order to guide the dancers through the steps there were a kind of conductor, who was saying the order of the steps.

The dance came to Brazil trough Portuguese court in the 19th century and reached an enormous success. The dance was always present in different festive occasions in the court, such the Brazilian imperators' coronations, birthdays or anniversaries, as well as in public spaces, such as clubs, theaters, salons, etc. In Brazil the dance spread among different social groups in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Throughout the 20th century the dance migrated to the Catholic Calendar and was presented in June to celebrate catholic saints (Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Anthony). In the catholic feast the musical genres to dance quadrille varies: marchinhas, xotes, baiões, etc. In the June catholic feast the dance keeps some elements of original quadrilhas, such as a row of couples dancing and the presence of a quadrilha's coordinator, who is responsible for directing the steps. This coordinator uses words in French and Portuguese to guide the dancers. Quadrilhas within the catholic feasts can be found in different areas, from the Northeast to the Southeast.

Quadrille as a musical genre followed the same path as the dance. Quadrille is a collection of contrasting contredanses that are grouped similarly as in a Baroque suite. The French quadrille dances were: Le Pantalon (2/4 or 6/8), L'Été (2/4), La Poule (6/8), La Pasturrele (2/4) and La Finale (2/4). In Brazil, 19th century, the genre became popular among composers and it had different roles: as accompaniment to a dance, in which the choreography was written in the score, as an independent instrumental piece without connection with dance and as part of a theatrical play (Zamith, 2011:58). The first Brazilian quadrilhas kept the same structure (order of dances) of French quadrilles, but they absorbed some syncopated rhythms. In the second half of the 19th century some composers started writing quadrilhas that did not have the same order of the dances as in French quadrille.

Quadrilhas' instrumentation varies, generally they were composed for piano, but it is possible to find a large number of pieces for flute, orchestra and band. Each movement (dance) in a quadrilha has different themes, keys are predominantly majors and modulations occur to closely related keys. Each dance in a quadrilha has 2 or 3 section. Important Brazilian composers for this genre are: Chiquinha Gonzaga, F.L. da Silveira, Joaquim Callado, Henrique de Mesquita, among others.  Fernanda Pereira


A carnaval group that was very influential on early escolas de samba. Rancho parades to marcha-ranchos.


The general Spanish and New World Hispanic term for any popular round folk dance. 19th c.


An improvised stanza that is sung by a repentista who tells stories or performs in a desafio.

rock tupiniquim

A nickname for Brazilian rock.


A form of Brazilianbaião at a faster tempo.


An Afro-Brazilian partner dance and music genre derived from the maxixe. It has a definitive binary meter and highly syncopated "semiquaver" figure. The most important samba compositions date from the 1920s to 1950 and include Jose Barbosa da Silva "Sinho", Noel Rosa, Alfredo da Rocha Viana "Pixinguinha", Ari Barroso, Lamartine Babo, Joao de Barros and Ataulfo Alves. Samba was replaced by Bosa Nova in the late 1950s and was virtually unchanged until then.

samba - entrudo

Entrudo was a kind of carnival party on the streets before samba development.

samba Axé

A solo dance originating in Bahia. The dance mixes characteristics of samba pé and aerobics. The choreographed movements mimic the lyrics of the song. It was started in 1992 when the Axé rhythm replaced the Lambada.

Samba cançao or samba-cançao

Softer sambas usually intellectual and about love.

Samba Carioca

A samba style originating in Rio de Janeiro.

samba choro

Samba hybrid with melodramatic lyrics dealing with love&unhappiness. Ballroom or late night-club genres.

samba de bloco

Sambas played by large organized groups of Carnival revelers in Brazil called blocos de empolgação, all wearing the same costume. Cacique de Ramos are always dressed as Indians and Bafo da Onça, Jaguar's Breath, has between 6 - 7 thousand members. Blocos are not structered like escola de sambas, but like bandas, they are spontaneous.

samba de breque

A samba containing a break where a singer improvises dialogue or dramatizes an event.

samba de enredo

A themed samba written specifically for marching during Carnival. Includes music, dance, costumes and decoration.

samba de gafieira

A type of samba influenced by American big-band jazz which contain horn arrangements.

samba de lenço

Southern form of folk samba, regional variation.

samba de matuto

A Northern form of samba, regional variation.

samba de morro

A type of samba named in the 1940s and 1950s that kept characteristics of the Estácio composers such as Ismael Silva and Bide but were different from samba-canção and sambolero/

samba de quadra

Brazilian term for sambas not developed for mass presentation by samba schools at carnaval, describing the informal common meeting areas of the samba schoolgrounds. Also known as samba de terreiro or pagode.

samba de roda

A type of samba preserved in Salvador, the original form brought form Africa by freed slaves. Characterized by circle-dancing, hand-clapping, and batucada.

samba de terreiro

Brazilian term for sambas not developed for mass presentation by samba schools at carnaval, describing the informal common meeting areas of the samba school grounds. Also known as samba de quadra or pagode.

samba fox

Samba hybrid with melodramatic lyrics dealing with love & unhappiness. Ballroom or late night-club genres.

samba Gafieira

An alternate version of the standard samba style that emerged in the 1940s. It includes elements of the waltz and Argentine tango and is considerably more complex.

samba j-ia

Means "gem," "clean, "energetic" (and commercially viable).

samba No Pé

A solo dance that is performed while samba music is playing. The rhythm is 2/4 with three steps per measure.

samba Pagode

Samba variation originating in São Paulo.

samba-reggae or samba-reg

A mixture of samba and reggae developed during the 1980s.


A form of samba originating in São Paulo, popular in Latin nightclubs. Samba-rock has similarities to Cuban salsa.


A combination of samba and bolero.


Term used to describe music of "trumpet king" Claudio Roditi.


A predecessor of the samba. Originated in Angola.


A style of music appearing in the 20th century, similar to a serenade.


Pop-ified rural Brazilian country music usually sung by male duets (duplas), that in the late 80s, not unlike American C&W, garnered new listeners as it produced artists with crossover appeal, switching it"s focus from gritty hard livin" to wholesome good lovin". Originally the word "sertaneja" derived from the dusty Northeastern sertao region, but now stands as a generic term for all country music in Brazil. The biggest acts of the early 90s are Leandro & Leonardo, Chitaozinho & Xoxoro, and Zez é de Camargo & Luciano, all producing album sales in the millions - making sertaneja far and away Brazil's most popular music. The music features low voiced close harmony singing, and updated electric instrumentation dominated by violin and sax. Besides Brazilian rural dance influences like cana-verde, catira (cateretç), and xote, and all-encompassing musical forms like moda da viola, toada and forró, many Latin, South American, Spanish and Mexican influences are prominent enough for band to produce LPs in both Spanish and Portuguese language versions. Other mostly single-named, stage-named, cowboy (caipira) clad singers in this genre are Christian & Ralf, Tonico & Tinoco, Matogrosso (formerly Matogrosso & Mathias), the Irmas Galvao duo, Ataide & Alexandre, Marcos & Mateus, and Milionerio & Ze Rico.


Brazilian regional style of music.


A partner "courtship" dance from fishing communities in the Brazilian state of Pará. Men and women dance together and alternately.

tango Brasileiro

Influenced by the Cuban habanera, the tango Brasileiro is a type of polka or lunda dance.


21st century popular music in the State of Pará in Brazil.


African derived dance of Brasil's black population, from Recife, that in the late 1600s became associated with the Christian Saint Benedict and Our LAdy of the Rosary. Also known as "congo" and "congada".


Generic term for a verse-chorus song with romantic or comical lyrics and a simple melody.

trio elctrico

Carnival groups associated with Salvador, Brazil. A Drummer and electric guitarist (guitarra bahiana) perform on a truckbed.

Tropicália or tropicalismo

"(Tropicalismo) arts movement in the late 1960s, led in the musical area by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and others""music and cultural movement in Brazil in the 60's led by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, others. Experimented with international pop music.""Bahian musicians" movement (influenced by rock and jazz)" An artistic movement from the late 1960s. Tropicália was influenced by international pop music, especially rock and jazz.

Umbanda, pontos de Umbanda

Songs created to invoke deities in the Umbanda religion. Pontos translates literally to "invocation."


Not a genre. Afro-Brazilian dance move where one dancer touches navels with their partner.


"Shah-shah'-do". Male line dance of northeastern Brazil from which forró is derived. Reportedly popularized by the bandit Lampião.


A music genre and dance from northeastern Brazil, similar to xote or polka, which generally makes use of the accordion.


Pronounced "Shaw'-tee". Northeastern Brazil version of schottische from which forró derived.