Samba music is very diverse and it's difficult to define. It is the result of a long simmering mix of heritage from the Portuguese songs, African rhythms, and the fast paced Indian ceremony meeting global influences. In the beginning it was played only with drums and other bass beat instruments, but later the acoustic guitar and the small Brazilian guitar cavaquinho was added.
There exist many different types of samba rhythms and samba dances. Samba is on the whole a musical composition made with a syncopated and binary rhythm. In addition to this basic samba rhythm, all types of samba are put together.
It is important to understand that what we in North America and Europe call Samba is often an umbrella-term that covers several different forms of samba like samba samba-reggae, afro, bloc, maracatu, baio etc. The phrase 'samba' is in Brazil often associated with the carnival in Rio and to a lesser extent also Sao Paulo.
Samba can be vigorous and harmonious at the same time. The oldest form of samba is partido alto. Other styles are bossa nova, balance, neo pagode, samba de breque, samba-cano, samba-enredo, samba de gafieira and samba de roda. Samba de roda is a mix of samba and capoeira.
Samba has been danced in Brazil from the late 19th century. There is in fact a set of different samba dances, instead of a single dance. The oldest samba dance is samba no p, which mean foot samba. Samba no p is a solo dance. A modern solo dance is samba ax that was invented during Brazilian carnival in 1992. There also exist partner dances like samba de gafieira and samba pagode. The ballroom samba is also a partner dance but it has little in common with the original Brazilian samba dance.
The popular samba of today is influenced by the rhythms of jazz and Latin music. It is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time. The music is cheerful and fast paced with a sound associated with Rio's Carnival. The basic count is '1 and 2'. There are many samba schools which all teach samba rhythms.
Samba is a vibrant and colorful culture that still transforms and is expressed in different ways in various parts of Brazil. There are many gifted musicians in Brazil like Martinho da Vila, Villa Lobos, Cartola, Edison Machado, Carmen Miranda, Pixinguinha and Walter Wanderley. Other famous players are Milton Banana, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ary Barroso, Bola Sete, Raul de Souza, Hermeto Pascoal, Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim.
For more information about samba music visit www.sambamusic.com.