Lesson 1: Learning “Mas Que Nada”
Jump to section:
Aim: What are the rhythmic and cultural elements that define the samba?
Summary: Students learn a samba song and the underlying samba rhythms, and are introduced to the cultural context for the genre.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources, Musical Explorers Student Guide, drum, tambourine, desktops, metronome
Standards: National 1, 2, 9, 11
Vocabulary: pandeiro rhythm, samba, samba school, syncopation
“Mas Que Nada,” written in the 1960s by esteemed pop singer-songwriter Jorge Ben, is a classic samba. Samba is rooted in the musical and religious traditions of Afro-Brazilians in Bahia, and grew up in the favelas (extremely poor neighborhoods) of Rio de Janeiro more than 100 years ago. Many subgenres have evolved in the decades since.
“Mas Que Nada”
Obá Obá Obá
Obá Obá Obá
Mas que nada, sai da minha
Eu quero passar pois o samba
O que eu quero é sambar.
Este samba que é misto de
É samba de preto velho
Samba de preto tu.
Mas que nada, um samba
como esse tão legal
Você não vai querer que eu
chegue no final.
Obá Obá Obá
Obá Obá Obá*
Oh come on! Get out of
I want to pass because the samba
What I want is to samba.
This samba which is a mix of
It’s an old black man’s samba
Black man’s samba.**
Oh, come on! A samba like this,
You won’t want me to come
to the end.
* This is believed to be an incantation for the orixá, or spirit, Obá.
** The preto velho is the spirit of an old, black slave, which is an archetype of the wise old man.
Learn to Play the Pandeiro Rhythm in “Mas Que Nada”
- One of the basic samba rhythms is a constant stream of eighth notes that establish the steady beat. This rhythm is played on the pandeiro, a frame drum that is unofficially referred to as the national instrument of Brazil. It is similar to the tambourine, with jingles that make a drier, crisper sound.
- The pandeiro is held in one hand and played with the other, using three different parts of the hand: the thumb, the fingers, and the heel.
- Two versions of the pandeiro rhythm are show below, one in 4/4 and the other in 2/4. You can do this activity on a drum or tambourine if you have one. If percussion instruments are not available, the activity can easily be done on a desktop.
The samba school is a quintessentially Brazilian phenomenon. There are more than 100 neighborhood-based samba schools in Rio de Janeiro alone, and some of the biggest ones have several thousand participants. All year long, these volunteer-led guilds prepare for their appearance in the Carnival parade. At the same time, they function as multidimensional community centers, providing services such as educational programs and medical care; engaging in political activity; and bringing neighbors together.
Design Your Own Samba School Flag
Musical Word Wall
Add the words pandeiro rhythm, samba, samba school, and syncopation to the Musical Word Wall.
“Carnival” by CP DC Press.