Just a couple of days after the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame, we would like to honor Rio de Janeiro and its music. This “Cidade Maravilhosa” has been the birthplace of some of the world’s most famous musicians who have influenced artists worldwide.

The music of Rio de Janeiro is deeply embedded in all of its inhabitants. You can’t go anywhere in the city without hearing the notes of a sweet Bossa Nova, a cheerful Samba, a sentimental Popular Music song, or an upbeat Forró. Brazilians and especially Cariocas are very proud of their musical legacy, almost as much as their “futebol”. Songs such as “Garota de Ipanema” written by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes, “Aquele Abraço” by Gilberto Gil or “Cidade Maravilhosa” by Andre Filho, are proof of the intangible cultural heritage that is the music of Rio de Janeiro music.


While samba is heard countrywide, it’s well linked to Rio because it has become -almost exclusively- the music of the Carnival. It’s impossible to imagine the world’s most famous carnival without thinking of samba, the tamborin, surdo and pandeiro, and its lyrics that speak almost in a comical way about everyday life and its problems.

Samba in Rio de Janeiro emerged in the early nineteenth century in the neighborhoods of today’s historic center where a large number of immigrants of African descent arrived from the northeast of Brazil. It was within these communities that musicians and performers began to shape this new rhythm favored by the fact that its inhabitants maintained their African customs and traditions such as music, dance, and religion.

Gradually, samba emerged from households and working-class neighborhoods and by 1930 it had invaded the traditional bars. Samba was heard in every corner of the city and it quickly became the music of Rio’s iconic Carnival. Composers such as Donga (who according to Brazil’s National Library recorded the first samba in 1916 called “Pelo Telefone”), Joao da Bahiana, and Sinho, were among the pioneers of this rhythm.

In recent years they have reopened traditional ballrooms in Rio de Janeiro, especially in the neighborhood of Lapa, and that has resulted in a resurgence of samba among all audiences who gather to listen and dance to the traditional music of Rio de Janeiro.

Bossa Nova

Born in the 1950s as a derivative of Samba, more melodious and lyrical, the Bossa Nova originated in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro thanks to the union of two of the most famous musicians in the country, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Joao Gilberto, with the poet and composer Vinicius de Moraes.

Jazz and Blues also influenced the new rhythm called Bossa Nova; with its more intimate and harmonious melodies it had a wider acceptance among the middle and upper classes of the city, who lived in districts like Ipanema and Copacabana. A few years later, Bossa Nova became so successful that worldwide stars like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra performed some of its most emblematic songs, perhaps being “Girl from Ipanema” the most famous one.

Unlike Samba, where percussion instruments are prominent, the Bossa Nova gives priority to the guitar, which is sometimes accompanied by the piano. In many cases, the lyrics draw an almost nostalgic portrait of the city, as in the song “Corcovado” by Antônio Jobim, or “Rio” by Roberto Meneschal.


Música Popular Brasileira

Brazilian Popular Music, simply known as MPB is a musical genre by itself (not to be confused with the music of Brazil, covering all genres). It emerged as an evolution of Bossa Nova in the 1970s and throughout its existence, it has been influenced by a wide variety of musical genres as diverse as Samba, Rock, Latin rhythms and even Reggae.

MPB initially emerged as a form of protest song from musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Djavan, Gal Costa and Chico Buarque, one of the most important musicians of the time. In the beginning, the lyrics of their songs spoke of repression and social injustice product of the military dictatorship, but gradually this changed and now the MPB has become a genre that welcomes any musical influence and enjoys wide acceptance.

One of the most modern exponents of Brazilian Popular Music is Carlinhos Brown, whose music is influenced by rhythms like merengue and salsa music. This performer has not only revolutionized this musical style, but has also shown great social commitment to the country’s communities in need, becoming one of the greatest examples of solidarity that exist today.

At Stereotheque we raise our glass and toast for this wonderful city, its people, its customs, its beaches, its Carnival and its music scene! Tim-Tim!

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Guillermo Arenas

I am a Strategic Marketing Professional with a passion for music, advertising, technology, innovation and sports.


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