Starting point of the national music, Bahia emits melodies in each corner; in the swing of the girls dancing samba; in its streets and squares; in the presentations that blend samba and axé music, Bossa Nova and Carnival.

The land of the religious syncretism is also a musical melting pot, and many artists, rhythms and styles started their history here.

Axé Music

Considered the most Bahian of all the contemporary musical styles, música Axé, Axé music or simply New Bahian Music is really a mixture of seemingly contradictory musical influences, such as salsa, samba, reggae and rock, as defined by its creators. The genre was given the name ´Axé´ by the journalist and music critic Hagamenon Brito, in 1987. He joined the word, axé, the name given to all the Bahian music he considered tacky, to the English word ´music´, which was used by bands who had international aspirations. Despite the derogatory name, the genre grew and gained success, marking out a new phase in the Bahian Carnival and its introduction into the national music market. It all began with the song ´Fricote (Nega do cabelo duro)´, by Luiz Caldas, in 1985. The song became a national hit. The name given to these songs also helped to consolidate the genre both in Brazil and abroad and to project, all over the country, names such as Daniela Mercury, Ivete Sangalo, Durval Lélis, Maragarete Menezes and Chiclete com Banana.
The history of Axé music, which has now been introduced into the academic curriculum, according to the journalist Marcelo Dantas, can be divided into four phases. The first, initiated by Luiz Caldas, began on the outskirts of the commercial music scene. The second phase began in 1992, with Daniela Mercury and her samba-reggae band. After the samba-reggae and the success of the bands of percussionists, a genre derived from pagode entered into the scene, and thus began the third phase. Groups such as Terra Samba e É o Tchan combined sensual dancing with malicious verse. The fourth phase of axé came at the end of the 90s, a period also known as the Era Ivete Sangalo. She started to attract attention as the vocalist of Banda Eva and it did not take long for her solo career to take off, with a hypnotic mixture of reggae, pop and a traditional rhythm from the Northeast, the galope.


Forró is a popular dance which originated in the Northeast and is accompanied by music, which takes the same name as the dance. The themes of forró music are based on cultural aspects and the everyday life of the Northeast of Brazil. It is typically performed with three musical instruments; the triangle, the accordion, and the zabumba (a type of drum). The origin of the word forró is widely disputed, though the most accepted theory is that of the folklorist and researcher of popular culture Luiz Câmara Cascudo. According to him, the word forró is an abbreviation of the word forrobodó, which means shuffle-foot, confusion or frolic. One of the principal characteristics of forró is the act of shuffling the feet while dancing. It is danced in pairs very close together, giving it a rather intimate and sensual feel.  
Although it is very typical of the Northeast, forró spread throughout Brazil with great success, particularly in the 60s and 70s, when migrants from the Northeast moved to other parts of the country. Nowadays, there are various types of forró: the traditional form, as divulged by the Pernambucan singer and composer, Luiz Gonzaga, the forró pé de serra or roots forró; electronic forró and university forró.



Research on the subject suggests that the word samba is a corruption of the word semba, of Angolan and Congan origin, which means umbigada (a bump [literally navel-to-navel] into another person), batuque (a song and dance with hand-clapping and stomping) or even dance of the umbigada. This festive rhythm was brought to Brazil by the slaves who came from this region and thus became a means of expressing the suffering of those in captivity who lived on the plantations.

The origins of Samba

The history of samba is directly related to the cultural formation of the people of Bahia. During the colonial period, samba was enhanced by hand-clapping and the introduction of instruments, such as the viola (a type of small guitar), the guitar, the triangle, the cuíca (a type of drum) and the tambourine. The rhythm developed mainly in the Bahian Recôncavo, more precisely in the sugar plantations, where the majority of slaves from Angola were sent. There, the music took the form known today as the samba da roda. From 1860 onwards, after the abolition of slavery and the end of the War of Canudos, many blacks and mulatos migrated to various other parts of the country in search of work and a better quality of life, mostly from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil at the time.

The majority moved to the peripheries of Rio de Janeiro, in the boroughs of Morro da Conceição, Pedra do Sal, Praça Mauá, Praça XI, Cidade Nova, Saúde and Zona Portuária. Many Bahian women, the descendants of slaves, took up lodging in these neighbourhoods and ran little bars and restaurants from them, where they became known as the Bahian or Samba Tias. In the houses of these Tias, Bahians met to eat, drink and sing. The most famous was Tia Ciata´s, who was one of the people responsible for the consolidation of the samba-carioca. In her house, various compositions were born out of the improvisation of the musicians who congregated there, such as ´Samba on the telephone´, recorded by the Bahian Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos, also known as Donga, attributed, wrongly, by some historians, as the first recorded samba.

Actually, the first music in this rhythm to be recorded was ´Isto é bom´ (´This is good´), de Xisto Bahia. The mistake arose from the fact that Donga´s CD had a label with the word ´samba´ on it, which Xisto Bahia´s did not.Tia Ciata or Assiata, and another Bahian, Hilário Jovino Ferreira, or The Lalau de Ouro, are chiefly responsible for the collective form that the samba and the carioca carnival gradually acquired, never straying far from their roots. On his arrival in Rio de Janeiro, in 1872, Lalau de Ouro founded various ranchos (carnival associations) and blocos(carnival floats). Initiated in the terreiros de candomblé in Bahia, Tia Ciata, was known as Little-Mother at João Alabá´s terreiro in Rio, also frequented by Hilário Jovino. Drawn to her first rate cooking, big names such as Pixinguinha, Donga, Heitor dos Prazeres, João da Baiana, Sinhô e Mauro de Almeida, all congregated in her house.

Tia Ciata´s terreiro was considered the general headquarters of samba. One day, Tia Ciata brought her stall of tasty African snacks to the Festa da Penha, a traditional Portuguese pilgrimage. Members of the Old Guard went with her, where they launched their music for Carnival. Journalists turned up at the samba da Penha and thus created a great social melting pot of music, bringing together the rich and the poor. Given the popularity of the new genre, the founding of the samba schools, at the end of the 20s, was the next logical step. The first one we know of, Deixa Eu Falar (Let Me Speak), was born in the borough of Estácio, the brainchild of those who gathered in Tia Ciata´s house.
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