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Brasil, Culture

Brasil: Samba and the Samba Schools

Posted: June 27, 2014 at 12:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

It all started in the end of the XIX Century in what was then known as Little Africa (Pequena Africa), the residence of the tias baianas. These were ladies who came from Bahia, and made a living selling food delicacies around town in their typical white dresses with big round skirts. They were also the priestesses of Candomble, and had a great influence in the community.

Tia Ciata may have been the most famous of these tias. Born Hilaria Batista de Almeida in the region of Bahia known as Reconcavo Baiano around 1854, she first lived near Campo de Santana.

But the address that entered in history was Rua Visconde de Itaúna, 177. In her living room meetings were often entertained with live music played by talents like Pixinguinha and Donga (son of Tia Amelia). In the back lot of her house happened the samba, a term then used to denominate the ritual Candomble dance to drums and hand claps.

Eventually the two beats got together, and Pelo Telefone, the first song labeled as a samba, was composed in her house. Another song that made samba history is Noel Rosa’s Com que Roupa?, that had a broader range of instruments that became staples in a samba song.

The Birth of the Samba School

In the end of the 20’s some organizers of blocos felt the need to evolve, and found inspiration in the ranchos that were somewhat more organized. The term escola de samba (samba school) is credited to Ismael Silva, from Estácio. The samba gained more fluidity to be adapted to the evolution of the samba school. Mangueira, founded in 1928 is the first samba school. The nickname Estacao Primeira is because it is right at the first stop after train station Central do Brasil.In the 40’s and 50’s the samba schools consolidate their evolution cycle, with a theme, a theme song, costumes and floats. In 1959 Nelson de Andrade, then president of Salgueiro, invited artists Dirceu and Maria Louise Nery to design their parade featuring painter Debret as the theme. This initiative brought a whole new concept of design that would result in today’s carnavalescos.In the 60’s and 70’s the samba started to gain prestige with the middle class and upper middle class. Albino Pinheiro, the founder of Banda de Ipanema, helped this integration process with his famous pre-Carnival balls. The Samba Parade started to become more popular, and in 1971 for the first time there was a time limit set to the parade of each samba school. The songs gain a faster beat, and in 1972 the first album with the theme song of samba schools was released.

Today’s Escolas de Samba are much more complex, and there are many wings and floats. Everything is described in detail at All About the Samba Parade. More tips about Carnival history at Carnival Balls, Banda de Ipanema, Meet the Sambodrome and Carnival Dates.


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