Brazilian Music Ideas for Olympics Inspired Events

April 12, 2016

With the Olympics soon to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, many event and party planners will be quickly arranging a variety of different parties with the exact same theme. They’ll most likely be broad – ‘Brazil’ is one we get a lot – and most likely, that will result in a lot of samba dancing throughout the summer. This is no bad thing; samba dancers are certainly one of our most popular acts but those who might prefer a different style of Brazilian music, we’ve put together ten of the most popular throughout the South American country. Don’t feel too pressured by the choice, just remember that any form of Brazilian entertainment will be a hit this year with Rio 2016!


As mentioned above, samba is one of the most popular forms of entertainment that has escaped Brazil and is probably the only one that everybody’s parents could name if they were tasked with ‘a Brazilian form of music and dance…for ten points.’ There are many different musical styles in Brazil but this is the top one, widely regarded as the country’s national musical style. It first developed from a mixture of European and African music brought by slaves in the colonial period but modern samba emerged from Rio de Janeiro and quickly caught on around the world with Carmen Miranda at the helm of the movement. Samba is made up of a distinct set of instruments, which includes the cuica (a friction drum), the cavaquinho (think small guitar) and a hand frame drum as well as many more. In more recent years, the style of music has also given rise to gorgeous flamboyant and colourful samba costumes, which are sure to feature in this year’s Olympic opening ceremony at Rio 2016!


Originating in the 19th century through interpretations of European genres such as polka and schottische (a Bohemian country dance), the Choro was further influenced by African rhythms and is primarily a largely instrumental genre that shares a number of characteristics with the samba and originated around the same sort of time, again particularly popular at the start of the 20th century. The genre of many of the first Brazilian records around the 1910s and 1920s, the genre’s popularity faded alongside samba’s rise, though from the late nineties onwards the Choro has once again returned to the fore.  

Bossa Nova

Perhaps the last of the traditional ‘big three Brazilian music genres that westerners can name’, the Bossa Nova is a style of music that originated in the late 1950s.  Perfect for Olympics events with a slightly smaller budget, the Bossa Nova has its roots in samba but features less percussion and more of a percussive guitar sound. It gained huge popularity in the country in 1958 and went global in the mid-sixties with the release of The Girl from Ipanema, the second most recorded pop song in history (after The Beatles’ Yesterday). Bossa Nova remains popular in Brazil, particularly amongst the upper classes and Southeastern parts of the country.


The most popular genre of music in Brazilian mainstream media since the 1990s, Sertanejo evolved from música caipira over the course of the 20th century and is now the most played genre on Brazilian radio.  Essentially south American pop music, it originated outside of the cities in the Brazilian countryside and the genre has a strong use of viola caipira (a 10 string, five course guitar) as well as, taking influences from American country music in more recent years. Common instruments used include viola, accordion and harmonica, though these have slowly been replaced in modern recordings, with the acoustic and electric guitar, bass and drums being preferred. Incidentally, Barcelona and Brazil superstar Neymar seems to enjoy appearing with the musicians. He's featured in the video above and can also be found in this video with a similar artist.

Forró and Frevo

Two music and dance forms that originated in the Northeast of Brazil, Forró and Frevo continue to be very popular today, especially with those from the regions in which they started. Forró is similar to Churo in taking its roots from Europe and the schottische and is most commonly danced in parties and balls known as forrobodós throughout the country. Frevo meanwhile originated in Recife in Pernambuco – also in the Northeast of the country – during the infamous Brazilian Carnival, held over Easter each year, and has since become synonymous with the festival with its bright use of colours and jaunty tunes.  The music features elements of procession and marches, but the frevo dance or ‘passo’ is influenced by capoeira.

Join us on the blog later in the week for five more classic styles of Brazilian music that just might be the type of music for Brazilian events that you are after!

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