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The Sounds of Samba

Rosemarie Crocco Mongillo

Contents of Curriculum Unit 00.05.06:

To Guide Entry

Samba is a lively music from Brazil. Many people enjoy it and are captured by its sound, but when they listen to it, what do they really hear? Do they hear only one sound, or are they attuned to its varied components from around the globe? Since samba has a rich, multicultural, historical base and wide appeal, I have selected it and its sounds to be the focus of my curriculum teaching unit in that it is an excellent vehicle for students to learn about World Geography and Cultures.

This unit is designed to teach heterogeneously grouped high school students. The classes contain not only regular education students who have a variety of learning styles and levels, but also special education students who possess various challenges, both physical and academic. Although this unit is designed to teach high school students, it’s easily adaptable for use with students on other grade levels.

The goal of this curriculum unit on “The Sounds of Samba “ is to provide teachers and high school students with instruments to enhance their academic endeavors. We will be delving into some content background of the music, experiencing the sights and sounds of samba performed, as well as working through a conceptual framework that allows for the investigation of many other topics that might be pursued in the discipline of Geography.

This author intends to empower her students with the necessary skills needed to think critically and demonstrate improvement in such areas as literacy, map reading, making cross-cultural and interdisciplinary connections, and comparing and/or contrasting sounds that are components of samba. Through active class participation and successful completion of the activities set forth in this unit, students should be able to explore a topic from the top down, as well as from the bottom up.

A framework, associated with the discipline of Geography, facilitates just such study. It contains two branches: Physical Geography and Human Geography, as well as five themes: Location, Place, Interaction, Movement, and Region. Students may then use this framework to focus on only one aspect of their study or to investigate its relationship with other aspects.

Preteaching a lesson is an excellent introduction where the teacher presents an overview of the topic, the objectives that the students should strive to attain, and a review or reinforcement of all the important highlights of the topic. The introduction might start with a short question and answer session. This gives the teacher the opportunity to discover how much pre-knowledge the students bring to the class. It might continue with viewing excerpts of a video which offers students the opportunity to experience samba vicariously. The conclusion to this lesson might contain a session in which the various aspects of samba are placed into a graphic organizer with the intent of reinforcing acquired knowledge.

Since samba is music that has roots around the world, it’s important that students are familiar with some key words, phrases, and terms used to discuss and write about it. Vocabulary development is an outstanding pre-reading tool. Many times students are able to understand what they read and increase vocabulary through the context clues of their readings. However, other times the context clues aren’t sufficient, and it becomes necessary to devote either an entire lesson or part of it to vocabulary development and comprehension. Therefore, a teacher’s monitoring of students’ understanding and progress is essential for success.

Sometimes one or more channels of learning are blocked in certain individuals. This challenge makes the use of multimedia materials essential in motivating and assisting all students to optimize their abilities. It allows them to circumvent a weak area by permitting them to replace it with a stronger one on which they can build easily.

Learning configuration(s) in the classroom is another important consideration. For example, not all lessons are suited for large groups or pairs. Careful attention, therefore, must be paid to the type of lesson being taught before the final seating arrangements are made. If the class is divided into groups, it’s important for students to reassemble to share the knowledge acquired throughout the period.

How can students, who are prepared, go beyond and extend their learning? How can they take the facts and the concepts that they have learned and generalize them? Perhaps they could study independently and report back to the class with an original presentation. It might remain within the discipline of Geography or go beyond, providing they make clear connections to the sounds of samba.

“The Sounds of Samba” will attempt to excite and motivate students through the connection of the abstract world of maps, charts, and theory to the “real” world of music, film, television, and newspapers. It’s anticipated that materials will be plentiful in light of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese arrival in Brazil during 2000. Many cultural celebrations are being planned throughout the year, and music is expected to be a large part of them.

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Brazil’s Musical Heritage

Because Brazil’s culture grew mainly out of three very abundant and diverse components, its musical heritage is rich. The evolution took place in stages and went in different directions. As time went by, the Indians, the Portuguese, and the Africans interacted. Their spirits, melodies, and rhythms mingled until something special was created: samba.

The Kamayurá people say “ihu” to express the idea of sound. To them it means “all that reaches the ear, including the sounds of the spirits and the magical entities of the woods.” (The Music of Brazilian Indians) The Kamayurá are one of the indigenous people of Brazil. Today there are about 200 such groups. It’s believed that five hundred years ago there were many more. Some of the sources that help scholars, students, and people in general to understand and learn about the cultures of the native Brazilians are a Carnaval song, Journey to the Land of Brazil, and Trato Descritivo do Brasil. (The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I)

The Carnaval song commemorates Good Friday, April 22, 1500 because that was the day, in what is now Porto Seguro, that the first Portuguese arrived in what is now Brazil and encountered its native inhabitants. Two writings, both published in 1578, are written by different authors. The first is a French Calvinist pastor and writer, Jean de Léry, who in his Journey to the Land of Brazil, provides not only illustrations, detailed descriptions of dances and rituals, but also some musical refrains from the Tupi. The second author is Gabriel Soares de Sousa, a Portuguese writer and chronicler, who wrote Trato Descritivo do Brasil. It includes descriptions of some songs, dances, and instruments of various tribes. About the Tamoios, he writes that they were great musicians, dancers, and composers of improvised songs. From him we also learn that the Tupinambás carry in their right hand a maracá, a gourd filled with pebbles(The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I).

Among the Portuguese who went to Brazil were the Jesuits whose goal was to convert the Indians to Catholicism. As one of their teaching tools, they used music by amending it in two ways: they translated their songs into the Tupi language and replaced the original words of the Tupi songs with their own religious ones. The Jesuits also introduced the native Brazilians to Gregorian chants, as well as such musical instruments as the flute, the clavichord, and various bow instruments. (Music, untitled) They included the Indians in the ceremonies and rites of the Church which usually were accompanied by music.

Other Portuguese went to Brazil for a variety of reasons: exploration, exile, establishment of settlements, trade, and/or exploitation. This group from across the social spectrum took with them traditional and dramatic dances, including the Bumba-meu-boi, lullabies, and nursery rhymes. Besides the above-mentioned instruments taken there by the Jesuits, the Portuguese took the cavaquinho, a small guitar that was later taken to Hawaii and became the ukulele. In 1808 the Portuguese royal family fled their homeland because Napoleon had invaded it. Therefore, the King and his entire court established residence in Rio de Janeiro. (The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I) They proceeded to re-create much of their previously familiar environment. In so doing they introduced the piano to Brazil.

The third group of major contributors are the Africans who first arrived in Brazil in 1538 as slaves. Even though they were forced to South America under deplorable conditions and found little better after they arrived, they, too, attempted to fill their new world with familiarity. Many continued to practice their own religions, although sometimes the outward manifestations were disguised or incorporated in European religions. ( Krich) They also re-created the music of their homelands, either by singing and/or making and playing musical instruments. The following instruments are among those whose origins are African: surdo, tamborim, agogo, cuíca, and berimbau. Since the Blacks came from many different societies and locations in Africa, their languages, religions, customs, and music were very diverse.

As early as the 1600s Blacks were receiving formal music instruction from the Europeans. Some of the more talented people were organized into private orchestras and choruses and played and sang for the plantation owners and their guests. São Salvador da Bahía de Todos os Santos, Bahía, was Brazil’s capital until 1763. It was a very active center of the slave trade, and many Blacks continue to live in that area today. Another area of significant Black population was in Minas Gerais. During the 1750s a unique musical phenomenon, known as mulatismo musical, developed there. (Béhague)

However, this was not the only style of music to develop. Opera and concert music emerged during the mid 19th century just as the waves of nationalism swept through Europe. In Brazil “A Sertaneja” by Brasílio Hibere, the first composition in the nationalistic style, was a symptom of what was to follow. In 1890 Alexandre Levy wrote “Tango Brasiliero” and “Suite Brésilienne” whose last movement is entitled, “Samba.” These works were performed, but not published. They are the first known nationalistic works written by a professional musician. (Béhague)

During Brazil’s golden period of nationalism three main factors helped to make it possible: (1) a dynamic and varied popular and folk culture with a wide range of expression, (2) talented art/music composers with empathy and exposure to the popular and folk culture, as well as (3) the establishment of institutions which make it possible to promote the work both internationally and nationally.

1922 sees the establishment of modernismo which seeks to incorporate avant-garde European techniques with an enthusiastic promotion of Brazilian folk topics. Heitor Villa-Lobos had been composing such music since 1917, as seen in his works “Uirapurú,” “Saci-Perere,” and “Amazonas.” In his 13 part series, The Chansons Typiques Brésiliennes, Villa-Lobos covers Indian, Afro-Brazilian, as well as mestizo aspects of folk music. (Béhague) Since that time modernismo has taken a new path and continues to develop in that vein.

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Origin of Samba

Since we are not certain of samba’s exact origin, two main schools of thought concerning it exist. The first maintains that samba is simply of African origin evolving from batuque, a music based on percussion instruments and hand clapping, which could also be related to “Kusamba,” the Ngangela word that means to skip. In the Angolan fertility rite known as “sembra,” navels bounce together. So it, too, could have been a forerunner to Brazilian samba. Umbigada, a ritual performed in a circle in which each dancer is designated to thrust a hip, is also another possibility. The second school conveys the idea that samba is a product of the streets of Rio de Janeiro where Portuguese courtly songs, African rhythms, and fast Indian footwork all come together. (Krich, Music, untitled)

Until the mid 18th century most Brazilian music remained mainly folkloric and anonymous. The lundus and modinhas, sentimental songs, of Domingos Caldas Barbosa are the first examples that we have of the popular music of Brazil. In 1835 the German artist Rugendas depicted a lundu, a sensual forerunner of the samba, as being danced by not only slaves, but also by white middle class people as well.(The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I)

1838 is the first time that the word “samba” appears in print as a Portuguese word. In “O Carapuceiro” Father Lopes Gama uses it to mean both a rhythm and a dance. However, it does have other related meanings. As a verb, “semba” a word in various West African Bantu languages, could mean to pray or invoke the spirits of ancestors or of the gods in the African pantheon. As a noun, it could mean a complaint, a cry, or something like “the blues.” In Brazil, a Samba is a sacred female dancer, as well as being a religious ceremony which is characterized by the rhythm and choreography of the batuque from Angola. (Brazilian Music: Samba)

Once again we sense the theme of sadness or melancholy in the musical form known as, “choro” from the Portuguese for weeping. Early choro groups usually consisted of two guitars and a cavaquinho. It was called the music of the barbers because the slave musicians who played it were usually trained as barbers as well. The flute, the clarinet and the mandolin were added to later groups. In the Rio style of the 1870s, the choro was primarily instrumental and featured one or more soloists. The groups usually performed European style dance music such as the waltz or the polka. Many times choro groups played in private homes or in botequins, the equivalent of French bistros. (The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part II)

The lundus and maxixe, rhythms that evolved out of plantation work songs were banned by white society. They were, however, popular at Bahía dance parties of the 1870s.

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Samba and Carnaval

Samba has always been closely related to Carnaval. In the Brazil of the past there were two styles of Carnaval: the Black and the White. Black Carnaval usually consisted of a great deal of noise, African drum sessions, masquerades of Black costumes, the singing of traditional samba (Guillermoprieto), and candomblés, which are transplanted African religious ceremonies similar to voodoo in Haiti or New Orleans or santaría in Cuba. These practices were not acceptable to all Brazilians. However, even today candomblés are considered to be at the root of Brazil’s culture. Some Blacks were looking for total acceptance into Brazilian society, but they were not willing to relinquish their essential character for one many considered to be unexciting and static. (Levin)

White Carnaval was taken to Brazil in the form of Entrudo, an old Portuguese pre-Lenten celebration. Its earliest form consists of people throwing little balls filled with water , or some foul-smelling liquid, at each other. By 1840 Carnaval was further influenced by the Europeans when it took on more of a sophisticated appearance in that elegant costume balls, in the styles of Paris or Venice, were being held. Carnaval societies formed to parade through the streets. Their members wore complicated allegorical costumes that were symbols of the participants’ hidden agendas.

By 1850 the processions included floats. Great numbers of male revelers, called cordões, took to the streets to join the festivities by 1856. Until 1899 the people danced to European inspired music. However, in that year Chiquinha Gonzaga wrote the marchinha, “O Abre Alas” (“Make Way”) which was perfect for parading. People from various ethnic backgrounds longed to join in the fun. (The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part III)

However, just as Carnaval was beginning to accept new people and ideas in 1901, some white elitists and police imposed regulations and restrictions to eliminate and/or limit Black influence on Carnaval. It was decided that only “certain types” would be allowed to parade and party on Rio’s principal streets. The new rulings didn’t please those who were looking for more change by including more excitement. (Guillermoprieto)

On January 6, 1907, known as the Feast of the Three Kings, or the Kings’ Promenade, a group of Blacks, Whites, and Mestizos held a picnic on an island in Rio’s Guanabara Bay. During their return they decided to form a new type of Carnaval association: a promenade. It was to have singing, but no African chants, drumming, but only as a background to flute solos, and shepherdesses, dressed in the latest European styles. The group became known as Delightful Myrtle. This idea intrigued some Blacks. It was the Carnaval that they looked to because they wanted to move beyond African tribal connotations and Catholic rituals in which they participated. They saw it as a civilized Carnaval with added excitement. However, the samba was still off limits at this time. Lyrical songs and courtly dances were still the accepted forms of music. (Guillermoprieto)

Early patronesses of samba were such people as Tía Amelia, who is said to have taken the samba rhythm to the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Tía Ciata, who held formal dances inside her house and African drum sessions in her backyard. Tía Ciata’s backyard became a meeting place for the sambistas from the hills of Rio, as well as for professional musicians from other areas. One of the sambista, Donga, Tía Amelia’s son, wrote and recorded the first samba, “Pelo Telefono” (On the Telephone) in 1916 on Odeon Records. Soon this new genre became closely linked to Carnaval for an entire generation of samba composers. During the 1920s the samba became a vehicle by which women were eulogized, and politicians as well as certain aspects of Brazilian life were criticized.

In some ways samba’s style is close to that of the North American urban blues. It could be viewed as Rio’s oral history, an ongoing rap. This happy sound is said to be a cry of release because out of such sadness there’s no room for the song to sound sad. Samba does, however, have an underlying current of hope that something good will finally emerge after cleaning up the problems that exist in Brazilian society. (Krich)

The seeds had been planted; the doors were opening. In 1923 the first Brazilian radio station played the music of the day: samba. It was finally becoming accepted. Soon the people from Rio’s working class neighborhoods had venues for the participation in the Carnaval: samba schools.

Several samba masters used to rehearse their music in an empty lot near a teachers’ college. Someone said that’s where the professors of samba are, and the term “samba school” has been used ever since. The name of the first school was Deixa Falar which means Let Them Talk. This short-lived organization was established in 1928. It was soon followed in 1929 by Estacão Primeira de Mangueira which exists to this day. (Guillermoprieto)

In Carnaval’s early days the parade was not so much a performance as it was a street festival. All one really needed to enroll in a samba school was a spoon to bang against a frying pan. Each participant put together his own costume. Each school usually had several hundred members. By 1935 the Carnaval parade was recognized by the Brazilian government. Everything was beginning to change; it was growing by leaps and bounds. The parades were at the center of community life. There were now fixed rules which included a ban on musical instruments other than percussion and mandolin. The parades had become structured. They were accepted as a part of Rio’s Carnaval tradition; however, they were not yet its central attraction. (Guillermoprieto)

By the 1930s samba made greater strides. There were samba radio programs, samba recordings and samba stars. Donga traveled to perform samba in Europe, and Carmen Miranda became a Hollywood star. In those days it was fashionable for all people to go “slumming” at samba parties. (Guillermoprieto)

Each school was divided into units with huge decorated floats between them. The most important members of each school were the female flag-bearer, her escort, the master of ceremonies, and the main singer. Other components included the theme, the theme song, the orchestra, the dancers, the principal characters, as well as the all important carnavalesco, the school’s creative talent who had nearly total freedom in making decisions on the presentation. (Krich, The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part III)

What happened to bring about the change? The public was separated from the participating dancers, and the spectator was created. In 1958 costume standardization began. No longer would homemade ones be allowed. Television coverage began, and Carnaval was in the midst of big business. Over 40 million people world wide were able to watch it. Then what became important was what showed up on the screen. (Guillermoprieto)

The location of the parade changed several times. Early parades were held on São Carlos Hill in the plaza called Little Africa. Later ones went from Central Station to Rio Braco Avenue. Since 1984 the parades have been held in the Passarela do Samba or Sambadrome, which is a half mile long parade ground lined with viewing galleries. It was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the architect of Brazilía. Some feel that the Sambadrome is misplaced because it’s in the shadow of an elevated freeway amid a poor warehouse district. Others feel that it shouldn’t exist at all because it turned Brazil’s greatest indigenous expression into a paid admission sport. (Guillermoprieto, Krich)

Now schools receive most of their income from a percentage of television broadcast rights, parade ticket sales advanced by Riotur, and receipts from tickets to its weekend rehearsals. The League of Samba Schools set up its own recording company. Since the least expensive Sambadrome tickets cost more than $40.00, no one below the middle class realistically has live access to view the parades. (Guillermoprieto)

Today’s Carnaval participants run the social gamut. Such celebrations are held not only throughout Brazil, but also in many countries throughout the world as well. However, it is the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro that has evolved into the grandest of all. During the last pre-Lenten week music, in general, and samba, in particular, fill the air. The three aspects of Carnaval have mushroomed into fantastic street festivals which occur between mid-afternoon and early evening; elaborate all-night costume balls, which are held by every restaurant, club and group in the city; and gigantic parades with well over 50,000 participants all of whom are competing for the coveted first prize. (Slater)

To some Brazilians samba and Carnaval are everything. As soon as Shrove Tuesday turns into Ash Wednesday, they are already planning the events for the next year. The majority of the participants in the festivities come from Rio’s working classes. They need to start saving money to buy their costumes or other items that they will need for the celebrations. Often the disparity between their day-to-day lifestyles and their carnaval personae is tremendous, but most people need to contribute something: time, money, talent, space, food or whatever is needed, to make Carnaval a success. When one steps back and looks at the irony of the situation, it’s difficult to comprehend. Out of abject poverty and racial discrimination, a lively spirit, and extreme talent was created the samba.

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A Framework for Study

Samba, both music and dance, are associated with Brazil. Why study it? What does it offer students the opportunity to learn? Why should its investigation be included in a survey course of Geography and World Cultures? As students begin to delve into this topic they will realize its values and complexities because of its various roots and far-reaching associations. Just as students do not learn in a vacuum, teachers do not teach in isolation. They help students to recognize the prior knowledge that they have about a subject, to expand on that knowledge, and to make connections with information in a variety of other fields in order to gain a deeper appreciation of the learned material.


Location is one of the five major themes of Geography and a good starting point for the investigation into samba. By using this theme it is possible to discuss the absolute location and the relative location of Brazil, as well as the location of all the area and countries that contributed to the music.

A common reference point is needed when using relative location. Since this curriculum unit will be taught in New Haven, Connecticut, I have selected it as the reference point. The areas to be located are Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Sudan, Central Africa, and Angola. There are various levels of relative location. The first might give distance from the reference point; for example, Brazil is thousands of miles away from New Haven. Another level might add a direction, such as north, south, east, or west to the distance: Portugal is 3,000 miles east of New Haven. Globes and maps will assist in teaching relative location.

In order to locate a point on a map in absolute terms, students must comprehend and use several geographical terms and concepts. They must know that the Earth is a sphere and that geographers and cartographers use imaginary lines to divide it.

Lines of latitude encircle the Earth from east to west. They are parallel to the Equator which divides the Earth into two equal halves or the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Lines of longitude extend from pole to pole. They aren’t parallel, but look like the sections of a citrus fruit that converge at each pole. The Prime Meridian (at 0º) and the line of longitude half way around the circumference of the globe (at 180º) divide the Earth into the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere. By assigning numbers to various lines, places may be located along the lines. In so doing we may then look at a globe or a map as a graph with a line of latitude as an “X” axis and a line of longitude as a “Y” axis. The absolute location is determined at the intersection of the two axes. Rio De Janeiro, the former capital of Brazil and the birthplace of samba, is located at 23º south latitude and 43º west longitude. There is no other spot on Earth with that exact location.

Once students understand how to use maps and globes effectively, they may not only locate any spot on Earth, but also trace the routes that Portuguese settlers took to Brazil or the routes that were used to take the Italian accordion or the Spanish guitar to Portugal , and then on to Brazil.


The theme of place answers what do we find there. In terms of Physical Geography, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and consists mainly of plateaus, low hills and the far-reaching Amazon Basin. This is a tropical land, for both the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn pass through Brazil. Because of the vast, unfriendly terrain, including thick rain forests, it is doubtful that all of the flora and fauna of this area have been identified by Westerners.

____ In terms of Human Geography Brazil is quite diverse. For 500 years it has been home to European immigrants and their offspring. It has been home to Africans and their descendants for about 400 years. In addition, there are about 200 indigenous societies who live in Brazil. Many of the current inhabitants have ancestry from all three groups; however, there still remain members from these groups who haven’t intermarried with those from other groups.

As students examine place, as a focus of their study, they will be able to attribute sounds, musical instruments, and traits to the various groups.


Many indigenous groups are affected by their environments to a greater degree than they affect it. Their lifestyles are usually determined by the climate and the natural resources found within it. Many native peoples appear to act as stewards of the Earth and, therefore, hold it in high regard without damaging or violating it as other groups have been known to do. The making of simple percussion or wind instruments is one example of such interaction.

Another example of interaction is the use of samba in the pre-Lenten Carnival. The incorporation of this joyful, lively music into a centuries old tradition, at the end of the 19th century, affected the celebration in Rio De Janeiro in terms of its size and frivolity. It turned many residents of poor, urban neighborhoods into elite members of samba schools competing for top honors in the Carnaval parades.


Brazil was and is a country on the move. Many people have arrived at its shores for a variety of reasons. Jesuit missionaries went to Brazil to convert the natives to Catholicism. Early Portuguese went there in search of riches, whether that be through trade, farming, or other means. For hundreds of years Africans from the Sudan, Central Africa, and Angola were captured and forced to go to Brazil to work as slaves. In the late 19th century and early 20th century droves of Europeans went to Brazil to escape hardships such as poverty in their homelands. Many former Nazis fled to Brazil, after Germany’s loss of World War II, to escape punishment for war crimes.

All these people had something in common. They brought with them or re-created for themselves bits of their original homes. It might have been something tangible, as a musical instrument, or the know-how to re-create one.

As time passed situations changed. Slavery was abolished; Brazil became independent from Portugal; people intermarried; people streamed into urban areas from rural ones. All of these events played a role in the creation of samba.


Once students recognize what the sounds of samba are, they can relate Brazil to other countries through its music. Just as students are able to search for the roots of samba, they will be able to trace its influence on the music of other countries through the use of musical recordings, films, and other media.

Students should leave this unit with a sense of accomplishment in that they will have acquired knowledge that is both enjoyable and useful. It should have a liberating effect on them because they will have honed their study skills along with feeling more confident in taking such exams as the CAPT or the SAT.

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Lesson Plan One

Brazilian Samba Terms


Students will become familiar with, understand, and use terms that are associated with Brazilian samba.

Suggested Time Allowance:

One 40 minute class period plus two evenings of homework

Materials To Be Used:

A list of vocabulary terms and their meanings


1. The teacher will distribute a list of the vocabulary words and their meanings to students.

2. The teacher will lead a discussion on the terminology explaining any unusual or complicated concepts about the terminology.

3. The teacher will answer any questions, as well as reinforce or further explain the terms as needed.

4. Students will be assigned to study the words and meanings for homework over a two night period.

5. On the third day, the teacher will divide the class into two teams making sure to include students of varying abilities on each team.

6. Together the teacher and the students will review and reinforce the terminology by playing a modified version of who wants to be a millionaire.


The team with the higher number of points will receive the first place prize and the other team will receive the second place prize, both of which will be determined by the teacher.

Brazilian Samba Terms

1. agogo - a musical instrument of African origin that consists of two attached metal bells and is played with a metal stick.

2. afoxés - groups of candomblé devotees dressed in white and parade to music played on atabaques in Salvador, Bahia.

3. atabaque - a large tom tom that is used in Afro-Brazilian religious celebrations.

4. batuque - (a) from Angola, the act of making some kind of rhythm using any kind of instrument of object.

(b) Rio’s version of capoeira, a martial art. 5. berimbau de corpo - a musical instrument of African origin. It is a single stringed harp that has a bow stretched by a wire, with an open gourd attached to one end. When it is being played it rests against the abdominal cavity for resonance. The musician plays it with a stick while holding a type of rattle in his hand. It’s the main instrument used in capoeira. (The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I)

6. bossa nova - a style of music that combines American jazz with Brazilian samba to produce a soft, smooth, cool sound. During the 1950s and 1960s it experienced popularity in both the United States and Brazil. It is not looked upon as just a fad because it was able to influence jazz both permanently and significantly.

7. caixa - the name for a snare drum in Rio De Janeiro

8. candomblé - an Afro-Brazilian religion that combines animism and Catholicism. It is similar to voodoo in Haiti and New Orleans, as well as santaría in Cuba.

9. capoeira - a once prohibited martial art that was disguised as a dance. It is accompanied by chanting, as well as the playing of the tambourine and the berimbau. It is performed extensively in Salvador.

10. Carioca - a person who lives in Rio De Janeiro.

11. Carnaval - a Roman Catholic, pre-Lenten festival similar to those in many sites around the world including Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Carnaval in Rio De Janeiro has evolved into the grandest celebration of it kind in the world. During the final week before Lent, it consists of elaborate street festivals, all-night costume balls, and gigantic parades.

12. carnavalesco - the coordinator of the samba school’s presentation in the Carnaval parade.

13. cavaquinho - a small Portuguese mandolin which was also taken to Hawaii and evolved into the ukulele.

14. caxa deguena - the name for a snare drum in Salvador.

15. chocalho - a musical instrument that looks like a Christmas tree and sounds like a shiver.

16. chorinho - means little tears and is a regional style of music from Rio that combines various sizes and types of percussion instruments, flutes, guitars, and sometimes a saxophone or a clarinet to produce an impression of sadness or tenderness.

17. cuíca - an African tension drum that is made from a small barrel covered with leather at one end. It has a short stick attached to its center, and when its rubbed with a piece of wet cloth it seems to produce sounds of laughter, cries, moans, and/or wheezing.

18. escolas de samba - are samba schools. In Rio these organizations have thousands of members and are responsible for putting on the gigantic, elaborate Carnaval parades that usually have over 50,000 participants.

19. favela - one of the working-class neighborhoods located on the hills of Rio.

20. favelado - an inhabitant of a favela.

21. forró - a very lively, footstomping, country dance from northeast Brazil. It may be accompanied by the accordion, flute, guitar, and percussion instruments.

22. frevo - is derived from the verb to boil. It is an energetic, simple style of dance from Recife. Because its dancers use umbrellas freely and are accompanied by brass instruments, the frevo is closely allied with Dixieland. The Recife Carnaval is the nearest relative to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. (Krich)

23. ginga - the basic step of samba

24. Gregorian chants - medieval Roman Catholic religious music that was introduced to Native Brazilians and African slaves by the Jesuits.

25. Jesuit - a Roman Catholic teaching and missionary order who went to Brazil, and other locations, to spread the word of God and convert the natives to Catholicism.

26. kukuta - a bamboo flute

27. lambada - a fast paced dance whose name is derived from the Portuguese verb to whip.

28. lundu - a popular, comic song/dance of African origin that was enriched by its contact with Iberian music.

29. maraca - a musical instrument made from a gourd filled with pebbles.

30. matracas - a musical instrument made from two blocks of wood.

31. maxixe - a type of tango, a precursor of samba, that originated in the dance halls of Rio at the end of the 19th century.

32. mestre-sala - the master of ceremonies of a samba school who holds one of the most important positions during the Carnaval parade. His escort is the porta-bandeira.

33. modinha - a popular, sentimental love song sung in the 18th and 19th centuries both in Brazil and Portugal.

34. pagode - a stripped down, back-to-basics style of samba created in response to overpromoted/overelectrified Carnaval themes.

35. pandeiro - a tambourine.

36. pifano - a wooden flute.

37. porta-bandeira - a female flag bearer who holds one of the most important positions during the Carnaval parade. Her escort is the mestre-sala.

38. pulando - the jumping up and down or the leap to Heaven that is one of the basic movements in the dances that are precursors to samba.

39. puxador de samba - the main samba singer/dancer during the Carnaval parade.

40. reco-reco - a musical instrument that is a scratcher.

41. samba - the national dance of Brazil that has international roots and is the primary dance of Carnaval, a pre-Lenten festival.

42. samba-enredo - a theme song to be presented during a Carnaval parade.

43. sambadrome - a half mile long parade ground lined with viewing galleries in Rio. It is the site of the gigantic Carnaval parade.

44. sinfona - an accordion.

45. surdo - a big bass drum. Its name comes from the word for deafness.

46. tamborim - the name for a mini tambourine in Rio.

47. tambourine - a small drum, especially a shallow one headed drum with loose metallic disks at the sides played especially by shaking or striking with the hand.

48. tarol - the name for a mini-tambourine in Salvador.

49. trío eléctrico - a style of music which incorporates electric guitars. It began in 1950 as a new way of celebrating Carnaval. When it was played on top of a 1929 Ford, it became a moveable band. Many people began to follow the music through the streets of Salvador.

50. tropicalismo - a style of music that combines American rock music with Latin music.

51. Tupi - one of the indigenous Brazilian societies the European clergy attempted to convert to Catholicism.

52. xique-xique - any shaker, even dry beans in a soda can that can be used as a musical instrument.

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Lesson Plan Two

Where Is It In Brazil?

Word Search


1. Students will become familiar with various locations in Brazil.

2. Students will categorize locations politically.

3. Students will pinpoint cities using latitude and longitude.

4. Students will categorize states/territories in terms of population.

Suggested Time Allowance:

One 40 minute class period

Materials To Be Used:

1. Where Is It In Brazil? word search.

2. Various geography classroom reference materials.


1. The teacher will distribute the “Where Is It In Brazil?” word search and make various reference materials available to the students.

2. Students will complete the word search by locating the 20 items listed.

3. Students will use the reference materials to determine each location’s

a) political unit, and
b) coordinates, or
c) population.
4. The teacher will answer any questions and assist students as needed.


Students will be evaluated on their word searches and related information, as well as their active participation in class.

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Lesson Plan Three

Latin American Music and Dances


1. Students will become familiar with various types of Latin American music and dances.

2. Students will identify the country of origin of each music and dance.

3. Students will compare and contrast each style of music and dance by writing an essay.

Suggested Time Allowance:

Two 40 minute class periods plus four nights of homework

Materials To Be Used:

1. Basic information sheet

2. Various CDs and/or audio tapes

3. Film clips and/or videos

4. Various reference books


1. The teacher will distribute the basic information sheet.

2. The students and teacher will participate in a brief discussion of the music and dances to be identified.

3. The teacher will play audio tapes/CDs and film clips/videos on Latin American Music and Dance.

4. The students will take notes, during the discussion, viewing, and listening, which will be handed in with their essays.

5. The students will use the basic information sheet, their notes, as well as any reference materials to write an essay of at least nine paragraphs comparing and contrasting the different types of music and dance.

6. The student will take an audio quiz identifying the music and its country of origin.


Students will be evaluated on their:

a) class notes
b) essays
c) quizzes
d) active class participation

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Latin American Music and Dances

Basic Information Sheet

1. Tango - Just as the samba is associated with Brazil, the tango is associated with Argentina, although the music and dance were influenced by the Cuban habañera. This style of modern ballroom dancing was enjoyed both in Latin America and the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century. Because the United States and other countries were then emerging from the influences of Victorian society, the tango was not accepted at first. As times changed, the tango’s popularity increased. This dance requires quite a large area for it includes a great variety of long steps and abrupt stops which help to accentuate the unique rhythm of the music.

2. Rumba - Following on the heels of the tango is the rumba which was internationally popular during the 1930s. It, too, has roots in Cuba, but it also has African folk origins as well. Homemade musical instruments, which may include such objects as bottles, pots, pans, and/or spoons, help to emphasize rumba’s grassroots character. Side to side hip movements accompany its basic quick, quick, slow basic rhythm.

3. Merengue - This is a fast, ballroom dance that originated in the Dominican Republic during the nineteenth century. The dancers keep one leg stiff while moving the hips and the other leg quite rapidly.

4. Mambo - This is a rhythmic musical form of Caribbean origin which is played in syncopated time and has a heavy accent on the second and fourth beats.

5. Cha-Cha - This is a modern, Latin American ballroom dance with a recurrent triple beat.

6. Conga Line - This is a Latin American dance with African origins. It has a repeated pattern of three steps followed by a kick. The dancers typically form a winding line.

7. Samba - This is a Brazilian dance that has international origins: Native Brazilian, European and African. It has a syncopated rhythm and is usually accompanied by percussion instruments and singing.

8. Salsa - This is a type of modern, Latin American dance music of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican origin. It was influenced by jazz and rock, and is usually played at fast tempos.

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Works Cited

Béhague, Gerard. Music in Latin America: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, c1979.

Brazilian Music - Samba. “A History of Samba.” wysiwyg://28//http://www.brazilian music.com/samba.html,3/27/00.

Brazilian Music: “The Music of Brazilian Indians: Music and Folklore.” Maria-Brazil. http://www.maria-brazil.org/ihu.htm, 5/16/2000.

Brazilian Popular Music: “The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part I - The Three Major Contributions to Brazilian Culture: Indian, Portuguese, and African.” http://www.maria-brazil. org/mpb1.htm, 3/27/00.

Brazilian Popular Music: “The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part II - From the 18th century ‘musica de barbeiros’ to the choro.” http://www.maria-brazil.org/mpb2.htm, 3/27/00.
Brazilian Popular Music: “The Roots of Brazilian Music: Part III - A Brief History of Carnaval and Its Music.” http://www.maria-brazil.org/mpb3.htm, 3/27/00.

Guillermoprieto, Alma. Samba. NY, Vintage Books, c1990.

Krich, John. Why is this Country Dancing? NY, Simon and Schuster, c1993.

Levin, Jordan, “Celebrating Brazil’s Black Roots, Miami, FL, Miami Herald, August 25, 1999, pp. 1E-2E..../hst-article-display?id=ct sirs - 9299132 & artno+108230 & type=ART&sound=no & key=Bra, 04/03/2000.
Music (untitled). http://www.crl.com/~brazil/music.htm. 3/27/00.

Slater, Les. “What is mas’? What is Carnival?: Profiling Carnival and Its Origins.” Black Diaspora July/Aug 1997. pp 14+, c1997..../hst-article-display?id=ct sirs - 9299132 +artno=064732+type=ART+sound=no&key=Bra 04/03/2000.

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Readings for Research

1. Apfel, Robert E. Deaf Architects and Blind Acousticians. New Haven , Connecticut. Apple Enterprises Press, c1998.

This author offers insights into the world of acoustics and how to use it.

2. Athey, Lois. Latin America: Regional Studies Series. Paramus, New Jersey, Globe Book Company, A Division of Simon and Schuster, c1993.

Various aspects of Latin American culture can be gleaned.

3. DeBlij, H.J. and Muller, Peter O. Geography Regions and Concepts, 6th ed., New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., c1991.

This looks at Geography at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union.
4. Espenshade, Edward B., Editor. Rand McNally Goode’s World Atlas, 18th ed., Chicago, Illinois, Rand McNally, c1990.

This atlas provides a comprehensive look at the globe.

5. Getis, Arthur, Getis, Judith, and Fellmann, Jerome. Introduction to Geography, 3rd ed. Dubuque, Iowa, Wm. C. Brown Publishers, c1988.

This is a good introduction to Geography at the college level.

6. Gove, Philip Babcock, Editor-in-Chief and the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. Springfield, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster, Inc. Publishers, c1993.

This tome is a basic reference for the English language.

7. Kelly, Robin E. Fearon’s World Geography and Cultures. Paramus, New Jersey, Globe Fearon Educational Publisher, c1994.

This geography text is used in survey courses.

8. Lye, Keith. The Complete Atlas of the World. Austin, Texas, Raintree Steck-Vaughn, c1995.

This reference depicts the world after the break-up of the Communist block.

9. Rossing, Thomas. The Science of Sound, 2nd ed. Reading, Massachusetts, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, c1990.

This reflects the latest advances in the field of acoustics.

10. Schwartz, Melvin and O’Connor, John. Exploring a Changing World. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Globe Book Company, A division of Simon and Schuster, c1993.

This text investigates the world we live in at a high school level.

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Reading List for Students

1. Athey, Lois. Latin America: Regional Studies Series. Paramus, New Jersey, Globe Book Company, A Division of Simon and Schuster, c1993.

Various aspects of Latin American cultures can be gleaned from this book.

2. Buchner, Alexander. Folk Music Instruments of the World. NY, Crown Publishers, Inc., c1972.
3. Gove, Philip Babcock, Editor-in-Chief and the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff, Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. Springfield, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster, Inc. Publishers, c1993.
This tome is a basic reference for words in the English language.

4. Guillermoprieto, Alma. Samba. NY, Vintage Books, c1990.

5. Kelly, Robin E. Fearon’s World Geography and Cultures. Paramus, New Jersey, Globe Fearon Educational Publisher, c1994.

This is a basic text for high school students.

6. Krich, John. Why Is This Country Dancing? NY, Simon and Schuster, c1993.

7. Lye, Keith. The Complete Atlas of the World. Austin, Texas, Raintree Steck-Vaughn, c1995.

This reference depicts the world after the break-up of the Communist block.

8. Schwartz, Melvin and O’Connor, John. Exploring a Changing World. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Globe Book Company, A Division of Simon and Schuster, c 1993.
This text investigates the world we live in at a high school level.

9. Vesilind, Prit. “Brazil: Moment of Promise and Pain.” National Geographic Vol. 171, No.3, March 1987, pp.348-385.

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