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With its rich and syncopated rhythms, samba is recognized throughout the world as Brazil's most iconic sound. From the thunderous sounds of percussion bands at Carnaval to the more intimate settings of a café, samba is the heartbeat of Brazilian music. Emerging in the favelas of Rio in the 1910s as Afro-Brazilian percussion music for the annual Carnaval celebrations, samba exploded in popularity, and by the 1940s came to dominate the Brazilian popular music landscape. Learn more about this uniquely Brazilian musical style with videos and playlists that provide a historical overview of samba and its connection to Afro-Brazilian percussion traditions.

From BBC 4's Brasil, Brasil, an introduction to the roots of samba including contributions from Voices from Latin America artist Paulinho da Viola.


From the film Paulinho da Viola: Meu Tempo É Hoje, Paulinho da Viola—Brazil's greatest living sambista—performs “Filosofia” (“Philosophy”).

Essential Paulindo Da Viola

The lilting music of Brazil’s greatest living sambista, Paulinho da Viola

Yellow Ribbon

Orquestra Imperial—a retro-chic homage to big bands from the 1950s—performs “Fita Amarela” (“Yellow Ribbon”).

Classic Samba

Stan Getz and Luis Bonfa’s classic 1963 Jazz Samba Encore!

Lê Lê Lê

The poet and singer-songwriter Arnaldo Antunes performs “Lê Lê Lê.”

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