For the podcast episode #48 I wanted to talk all things Brazilian Carnaval! However, even though I’ve spent 8 years living in Brazil, I’m not an expert and I wanted to give you expert and reliable information to use in your classrooms! Success!

I found Manuela Green, born in Rio de Janeiro but spent 20 years in England where she got her degree and taught Portuguese at the University of Nottingham. Manu taught the degree program in the School of Modern Languages. She is delightful and I know you will enjoy her on the episode!

The History of Carnaval

The Simplified version:

  • Carnival began in Pagan times in Europe. It was a celebration for the end of winter and the hope of spring.
  • In Roman times Carnival became tied to the Christian holidays with the time of year being Easter and Lenten season.
  • Carnaval came to Brazil with the Europeans. Carnaval took on a new vibe with the African and Indigenous influences already present in Brazil.
  • By the 1920s Brazilian Carnival had its own unique identity.

The Samba

  • Most people agree that the Samba began in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Samba uses African and indigenous rhythms and dance influences.
  • The lyrics related to the life of the working class.
  • While everyone loved Carnaval, Samba not as accepted by the upper class because it was viewed as working class music.

Get the Carnaval Music Kit here! Includes sheet music for a Samba, March and Frevo!

Carnaval in Brazil Today

The celebrations vary from region to region in Brazil. For more in-depth about the differences information be sure to listen to the podcast!

  • The North of Brazil: The celebrations are closely related to the magical stories of the Indigenous people. Carnaval lasts for about a month and takes place on the streets.
  • The Northeast of Brazil: The street parades consists of trucks playing loud and happy party music with the people following them singing and dancing. Their Carnaval also lasts for about a month. A very popular dance is called the Frevo and it comes from the state of Pernambuco in the North East of Brazil.
  • The South and Southeast of Brazil: This is the most popular style of Carnaval, what we see on TV happening in Rio de Janeiro. The celebrations only happen over a week or so. It began because groups of people began creating their own music and performances with themes to perform for Carnaval using the Samba style. Eventually, they began competing against each other and now these groups are called samba schools (Escolas de samba).

Musical examples of Samba

Manu suggested listening to the music of Adoniran Barbosa who was an iconic Samba singer in the 60s.

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