Samba de Enredo and the Afro Brazilian Carnival

Ilu Ayê

(Norival Reis, Portela Samba School)

This 1972 Norival Reis samba song pays homage to Brazilian carnival’s African heritage and the Afro-Brazilian influence in samba schools. Ilu Ayê from the Yoruban dialect of Nagô means “distant land”, “land of life”. This expression is often used in reference to the nostalgia of the African motherland felt by the black population of Brazil. The song is divided into three parts and it describes the trip slaves were forced to take journing from their home countries to Brazil as well as the emerging sense of nationalism and belongingness.

The samba de enredo begins by painting the life of Nagô people in Africa singing among their “odara” (good people) until they were imprisoned in senzalas (slave prison) where they cried Ilu Ayê. The second verse entails early Afro-Brazilian cultural practices such as playing capoeira, batuque and praying for Afro-Christian Gods during the process of abolition. The final verse of the song illustrates black Brazilians dancing on the avenue (carnival) bringing life to parties and owning the modern carnival.

Norival Reis’s samba which earned Portela Samba School 3rd place on Rio’s 1972 carnival reassures the importance of Afro-Brazilians in establishing the sound and culture of Brazilian Carnival and how it differs from its European roots. The music instrumentation is lead by an orchestra of cavaquinhos that emphasize the song’s harmony tracing back to early european influenced choros and modinhas. The cavaquinho 16th note rhythm and it’s syncopated accents are characteristic of Rio de Janeiro’s early 1920’s sambas. Doubled by the pandeiros the 16th note pattern augments the lower syncopated tamborins and surdos which play rhythmic patterns more directly found in african rhythms such as the jongo and lundo. This mixture of African and European musical traditions characterizes the changes in Brazilian carnival culture in the early 20th century thanks to groups such as “Turma do Estácio” which slowly introduced samba music and dancing into the European modeled party.

At the early days of carnival there was a lot of police persecution of black Brazilians who celebrated their music in the streets. These were mostly people living in the morro (slums) where their geographic segregation allowed for African practices to be preserved and developed away from the bohemian Eurocentric Zona Sul of Rio de Janeiro (Raphael, p. 74). With time the sambista was characterized as a mischievous person who is liked by everyone and outsmarts the law. The sambista characterization helps to define the current Brazilian cultural identity known as the ”jeitinho Brasileiro” (Brazilian way). These characters described by samba lyrics and lived by sambistas were so likeable and identifiable that the population started praising samba music coming from the morros more than their white counterparts (which often purchased songs from black artists). Another element in the legitimization of samba schools and Afro-Brazilian carnival was the 1930s nationalist dictatorship. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro Getúlio Vargas who would later become president of the country was responsible for the nationalist movement was attempting to create a sense of national belongingness among the Brazilian population (Raphael, p.77). He saw Afro-Brazilian carnival and samba schools as a good opportunity to create a national culture and helped to make oficial these institutions. He also required samba schools to center their parade based on a theme of national heritage encouraging the composition of songs such as Ilu Ayê.

This increase in valorizations of African heritage conflicted with Rio de Janeiro’s intent of becoming the Paris of the Americas in emulating European architecture, culture and celebrations. The outcome was the international recognition of Brazilian carnival as a unique cultural expression that is much more celebrated than its European origin. It is this conflicting history that samba songs such as Ilu Ayê commemorates in the avenues of Rio de Janeiro in the early 70s. Today Brazilian carnival is a large international fenomena infused fueled by tourism and big corporations. For many the institutionalization of carnival ruins the initial celebratory intent as well as it’s African fusion heritage.

Samba de Enredo

It is hard to describe exactly how a genre of Brazilian music such as samba de enredo was invented because the lines that differentiate among Brazilian genres aren’t defined themselves. The major difference between samba de enredo and other forms of samba is it’s context rather than any particular rhythmic pattern. Samba de enredo is a subgenre of samba played in carnival parades, its orchestration often includes large rhythmic sections with cuícas, surdos, tamborins, pandeiros and reco-recos. The harmony is provided by cavaquinhos and the melody is usually sung by a combination of soloists and a large choir. Samba de enredo is often played in fast tempos in order to encourage cheerful dancing and its lyrics often covers themes of national stories due to parade theme requirements.

Samba itself is considered to be an evolution of maxixe and lundu dances which were brought to Rio de Janeiro through slaves living in the state of Bahia. The maxixe however was the most popular dance because it had been highly influenced by the “Brazilian Tango” which was a form of European Polka arranged with syncopated rhythms of African and Iberian origins. Maxie's new meaning was considered by black Cariocas living in the hillside to have been whitewashed in it’s trip to Rio de Janeiro (Fryer, p. 154). In 1917, as a response to the whitening of maxie's meaning, people living in the slums of Rio started using the term samba to describe not only a dance but also a music genre influenced by choro, maxixe, lundo among other dance and music styles. According to a publication by Ernesto Woaquim Maria dos Santos and Mauro de Almeida the carnival song responsible for popularizing the word samba as a music genre was “Pelo Telefone” by Donga. The samba song lyrics talk about the phenomena of samba which puts a spell on people, makes them have fun and enjoy themselves while policeman who doesn’t understand the joy of samba engage in brutality.

Samba quickly became the default term for this dance and music which seemed to move Brazilians in festive celebration. The genre grew in popularity and by the 1920s it was internationally known as Brazil’s principal musical contribution to the world. During the early 20th century, samba separated into multiple sub-genres including samba canção, samba de roda, pagode, samba reggae, samba rock and samba de enredo. Today elements of samba can be found in most forms of Brazilian popular music, it can be heard and danced in the avenues of Carnival, at bohemian botecos (bar) tables and concert halls around the world.

Citation

Raphael, Alison. "From Popular Culture To Microenterprise: The History Of Brazilian Samba Schools". Latin American Music Review / Revista De Música Latinoamericana, vol 11, no. 74, 1990, p. 83. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/780359. Accessed 30 Oct 2018.


Fryer, Peter. Rhythms Of Resistance: Maxixe and Modern Samba. Pluto, 2000. Accessed 30 Oct 2018


"Academia Do Samba - O Maior Portal Do Carnaval Brasileiro". Academiadosamba.Com.Br, 2018, http://www.academiadosamba.com.br/passarela/portela/ficha-1972.htm. Accessed 28 Oct 2018.


"Academia Do Samba - O Maior Portal Do Carnaval Brasileiro". Academiadosamba.Com.Br, 2018, http://www.academiadosamba.com.br/passarela/portela/ficha-1972.htm. Accessed 28 Oct 2018.

Lyrics

Ilu-ayê

Ilu-ayê, Ilu-ayê, odara

Negro cantava na nação Nagô Depois chorou lamento de senzala Tão longe estava de sua Ilu-ayê


Tempo passou e no terreirão da casa grande

Negro diz tudo que pode dizer

É samba, é batuque, é reza, é dança, é ladainha

Negro joga a capoeira e faz louvação à rainha


Hoje, negro é terra, negro é vida

Na mutação do tempo, desfilando na avenida

Negro é sensacional, é toda festa de um povo

É o dono do carnaval

Pelo Telefone

O Chefe da polícia

Pelo telefone manda me avisar

Que na carioca tem uma roleta para se jogar


O Chefe da polícia

Pelo telefone manda me avisar

Que na carioca tem uma roleta para se jogar


Ai, ai, ai

Deixe as mágoas pra trás, ó rapaz Ai, ai, ai

Fica triste se és capaz e verás Ai, ai, ai

Deixe as mágoas pra trás, ó rapaz Ai, ai, ai

Fica triste se és capaz e verás


Tomara que tu apanhes Pra nunca mais fazer isso Roubar amores dos outros E depois fazer feitiço


Olha a rolinha, Sinhô, Sinhô Se embaraçou, Sinhô, Sinhô Caiu no lago, Sinhô, Sinhô Do nosso amor, Sinhô, Sinhô

Porque este samba, Sinhô, Sinhô É de arrepiar, Sinhô, Sinhô

Põe perna bamba, Sinhô, Sinhô Mas faz gozar, Sinhô, Sinhô


O ?Peru? me disse Se o ?Morcego? visse Não fazer tolice

Que eu então saísse Dessa esquisitice Do disse-me-disse


Mas o ?Peru? me disse Se o ?Morcego? visse Não fazer tolice

Que eu então saísse Dessa esquisitice Do disse-me-disse


Ai, ai, ai

Deixe as mágoas pra trás, ó rapaz Ai, ai, ai

Fica triste se és capaz e verás Ai, ai, ai

Deixe as mágoas pra trás, ó rapaz Ai, ai, ai

Fica triste se és capaz e verás


Queres ou não, Sinhô, Sinhô Vir pro cordão, Sinhô, Sinhô Ser folião, Sinhô, Sinhô

De coração, Sinhô, Sinhô

Porque este samba, Sinhô, Sinhô É de arrepiar, Sinhô, Sinhô

Põe perna bamba, Sinhô, Sinhô Mas faz gozar, Sinhô, Sinhô


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Copyright © Luís Zanforlin 2016