Bossa-Nova, Samba and MPB

Bossa Nova

Bossa nova is a Brazilian genre of music that translates to "new trend," or "new wave."  It emerged in the 1950s and '60s, combining elements of samba – a popular music genre within Brazil – with American jazz traditions. Famous Brazilian bossa nova players include João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sérgio Mendes, Luiz Bonfá, and the band Os Cariocas. Bossa nova began with a young group of artists and musicians in Rio de Janeiro, and, over the course for less than a decade, it spread throughout the world.

Origins:  Bossa nova began in the mid-1950s with guitarist João Gilberto, who developed a style of smooth, muted samba. Gilberto collaborated with composer Antônio Carlos Jobim to bring the new style to prominence in Brazil. In 1959, Gilberto released Chega de Saudade, the first album to feature bossa nova exclusively.

Jazz influence:  From the very beginning, bossa nova incorporated jazz chords and harmonies, distinguishing it from samba. Eventually, some samba musicians embraced harmonic complexity, and the term "jazz samba" became a bit of a catchall for both bossa nova and harmonically sophisticated samba.

Spread to the US:  in the 1960s, an American bossa nova craze took root, intertwining with the cool jazz movement. Americans including Herbie Mann, Charlie Byrd, Jim Hall, Paul Desmond, and even Frank Sinatra ran with the form. The Bonfá-penned "Manhã de Carnaval" became a major hit in the United States under "Black Orpheus."

Source: Article by MasterClass | Last updated: Nov 8, 2020

Samba Music

Samba is a type of popular music with roots in Afro-Brazilian traditions. Samba music is distinct for its characteristic rhythmic patterns, emphasis on melody, relatively simple harmonies, African percussion instruments, and Portuguese-language lyrics. While the Brazilian music scene has spawned many genres from bossa nova to Choro, samba is arguably the nation's best-known musical export. Samba has long featured in the annual Brazilian Carnival, where it is performed by ensembles known as samba schools (or escolas de samba).

Origins: The style of samba traces back to the Brazilian state of Bahia in the seventeenth century. There, descendants of African slaves combined their percussion techniques with Latin American folk music to create an early version of samba.

Development: It was in Rio de Janeiro that samba took shape. The earliest samba songs on record come from the 1910s, starting with 1917's "Pelo Telefone." Different regions of the country spawned different variants of samba. Impoverished favelas (shantytowns on the edges of major cities) became known for samba de morro, or "samba from the hills."

Variations: Throughout the country, new Brazilian dance genres spawned from samba, including samba-reggae, samba-enredo, samba-canção, samba de roda, ballroom samba, samba-maxixe, samba-de-chave, and pagode. Bossa nova originated from samba with an assist from American jazz.

Resurgence: In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, samba rose to new heights, led by popular Brazilian artists like Nelson Cavaquinho, Guilherme de Brito, and Cartola. Other musicians, like João Gilberto, found equal success in both bossa nova and traditional samba.

Present-day: Today, samba is well known throughout the world. Moviegoing audiences encountered samba via Hollywood films starring Carmen Miranda. Tourists experience it via the annual Brazilian Carnival parades. Samba has also found its way into other musical traditions, from Cuban salsa genres to Polish polka to jazz. 

Source:  Article by MasterClass | Last updated: 8 November 2020

Música Popular Brasileira (MPB)

MPB is an acronym for Música Popular Brasileira or, in English, Brazilian Pop Music. It's an amalgamation of styles that took hold in the 70s and now accounts for a significant amount of Brazil's music. MPB is pop music, and as with any good pop music, it eats up the culture of the time (its fashion, music, mood, etc.) and spits it out again newly-polished and ready for the radio. Its genesis followed the tropicalia movement, which itself was a mix of bossa nova, samba, The Beatles, theatre productions, and revolutionary attitude; all rolled into a package that would energize the Brazilian youth and fight the dictatorship. After the movement petered out, MPB took over its mantle. It added a glossier production, less congested productions, and more jazz and samba elements, and later disco and new wave throughout the 80s. It also incorporated regional styles like pagode, afoxe , and forró as they came in and out of fashion.

MPB is ubiquitous, found in people's homes, on the radio, and played by every Brazilian guitarist.  Much of the classic MPB was written in the 70s and early-80s. After that, it became more synthetic with the rise of electronic instruments, before finally coming back to its roots in the 90s and 00s with artists producing great MPB albums. Sometimes they still used lavish orchestrations, but there were also plenty of stripped-down productions with occasional electronics. 

Some of the best albums and tracks to give a taste of MPB: Os Novos Baianos' Acabou Chorare is an excellent place to start, an early classic of MPB. The group followed up their samba-centric debut by discovering bossa nova and paring down their sound for what proved to be a masterstroke as songs such as "Preta Pretinha" and the title track show.  Caetano Veloso went from Tropicália to MPB upon his return from London, crafting Transa in the process. Considered his classic by many critics, it shows Caetano at his acoustic-best and showing off his English skills on a few efforts here. Adriana Calcanhotto has come to the fore marrying poetry to a calm voice and delicately playful arrangements. Senhas is an excellent example of how good MPB can be. There are some great sambas on here, and her lyrics and voice are as good as they've ever been. Calcanhotto is one of several female singers who've become massive MPB stars. Other names to watch out for are Maria Gadú, Marisa Monte, Vanessa da Mata, Ana Carolina, and Cassia Eller.

Source: Article by Russ Slater | 19 April 2010

Telma's repertoire in Bossa-Nova, Samba, and MPB include:

  • Agora (Caetano Veloso)
  • Água Perrier (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • A Loba (Luís Carlos Jr Peralva & Paulo Roberto Dos Santos)
  • Altar Particular (Maria Gadu)
  • Atras Da Porta (Chico Buarque)
  • Beatriz (Chico Buarque & Edu Lobo)
  • Bonde Do Dom (Marisa Monte)
  • Cara Valente (Marcelo de Souza)
  • Como Vai Você (Roberto Carlos)
  • Coração Do Agreste (Aldir Blanc & Moacyr Da Luz Silva)
  • Corcovado (João Gilberto)
  • Devolva-me (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • Dia De Domingo (Tim Maia)
  • Encontros E Despedidas (Milto Nascimento & Fernando Brant)
  • Estranha Loucura (Paulo Cesar Guimarães, Plopschi & Ivanilton De Souza Lima)
  • E Dai? (Miguel Gustavo)
  • Esquadros (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar (Vinícius de Moraes)
  • Eu Te Amo (Chico Buarque)
  • Explode Coração (Gonzaguinha)
  • Falsa Baiana (João Gilberto)
  • Folhetim (Chico Buarque)
  • Garota De Ipanema (António Carlos Jobim)
  • Gentle Rain (Luiz Bonfá & Matt Dubey)
  • Insensatez (Norman Gimbel, Vinícius de Morais & António Carlos Jobim)
  • Lounge (Mayra Correa)
  • Lua Branca (Chiquinha Gonzaga)
  • Mentiras (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • Metade (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • Não Deixe O Samba Morrer (Edson Conceição & Aloísio Silva)
  • Ne Me Quitte Pas (Jacques Brel)
  • Negue (Adelino Moreira & Enzo de Almeida Passos)
  • O Seu Corpo (Roberto Carlos)
  • Olha (Roberto Carlos)
  • O Bêbado E O Equilibrista (João Bosco & Aldir Mendes)
  • Olhos Nos Olhos (Chico Buarque)
  • O Nome Da Cidade (Caetano Veloso)
  • O Que E O Amor (Arlindo Cruz, Fred Camacho & Mauricao)
  • O Que Os Olhos Não Veem | Eu sou a outra (Ricardo Galeno)
  • Otalia Da Bahia (António Carlos Jobim & Jocafi)
  • Pra Declarar Minha Saudade (Arlindo Cruz)
  • Pra Que Discutir com Madame (João Gilberto)
  • Recado (Rodrigo Maranhão)
  • Reconvexo (Caetano Veloso)
  • Samba Em Preludio (Vinícius de Moraes)
  • Teresinha (Chico Buarque)
  • Tem Das Onze (Adoniran Barbosa)
  • Vambora (Adriana Calcanhotto)
  • Você Abusou (José Carlos Figueiredo & António Carlos Marques Pinto)
  • Você Não Me Ensinou A Te Esquecer (Caetano Veloso)
  • Você Não Sabe (Roberto Carlos)
  • Você Vai Ver (Tom Jobim) 


“She is so strong, her eyes of glass hold the city” (Dance Her Soul)

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