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Brazilian Carnival Is Not All About Samba

New Carnival Movement: alternative music styles in Brazilian festivities 

2020’s Carnival is over but we are not done talking about it. In Brazil, the carnival is a long awaited and desired date, usually between February and March, several people take the opportunity to rest at home or travel to a quiet place, but there are thousands of Brazilians who like to party on the streets and enjoy the best that the holiday can offer.

When one thinks of carnival and party soon we imagine the traditional parades of samba schools and the “bloquinhos” of Olinda, Recife, and Salvador, Bahia, (that hit record of biggest party of all time this year) that still have a lot of strength and culture but are increasingly sharing the stage with the “bloquinhos” – which are performances separated by musical style, open to all people, and the best part, it is free – of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. The southeastern Brazilian capitals are full of glitter, fun and music – which is diversifying and expanding the barriers of what would be the popular “carnival songs”.

Although there are still many “blocos” that seek to exalt the Brazilian culture with typical songs, the amount that arises touches alternative styles to carnival is growing and becoming the number one option among many “foliões” – people who attend these parties. The greater visibility of the various musical styles is a very positive point generated by these event, which shows that carnival is a time to celebrate and enjoy a good music, whichever it may be.

Different Ways of Enjoying the Party 

In foliã Anna Liza Estrella´s opinion  “the carnival is a great party and, precisely because of this, fit all the styles. I went in traditional Rio de Janeiro´s ‘blocos’ but also wanted to go in these different ones just to enjoy it in different ways. So, in my opinion, the party is more complete. They have different energies and audiences, but the joy of carnival is the same”. In Belo Horizonte, folião Eduardo Torreçilha attended ‘country music “blocos” and said ” I chose it because I honestly do not care much for musical style but liked the size and structure” 

For the student Gustavo Caetano, who decided to stay in São Paulo and go to country music “blocos”, it is very cool to have “bloquinhos” with different songs, according to him “the songs are what please me most, mainly ‘funk’ and country music. I feel more “located” in them and more ‘at home’”. Caetano also said, ” it’s good because many people have prejudice with country music and it helps a lot to end this prejudice”. 

Electronics is also a very popular style in carnival – since many events that have presentations with this type of music are more expensive and ‘unknown by many people. “My friends like heavier electronics, I like something lighter, Gop Tun showed me the style I like and even provided my friend (who likes the heavier electronics) who went with me, an opening to a new music style that she thought she did not like (…) makes more people to have contact and know more”, said Isabella Hader, listener of electronic music who was present in Gop Tun, that happened in São Paulo on february,24. In Rio, Estrella went to ‘Bloco da deep´, also an electronic style, and said “This type of ‘bloco’ with different songs can not stay out of my carnival agenda since 2018 since it represent s to me different ways to enjoy the carnival intensely”. 

Many funk, such as the singer Anitta, and pop, as Pabllo Vittar, “bloquinhos”  are practically mandatory attractions for those who like the artists and want to enjoy a free show – since most performances throughout the year are paid. For many, the carnival is a great time to enjoy these performances, which are easier to take friends, which makes that each year these artists have a larger and faithful audience, generating recognition and opportunity for growth or greater popularization in the Brazilian music scenario. For folião Pedro Eduardo, if the ‘bloco’ does not play a certain type of music that he likes, he won’t go, so having these alternative styles in Brazilian festivities helps make the party even bigger and attractive to more people. 

It Is Not Restricted

So, Brazilian carnival is not restricted to only one type of music or public, we have options to all kind of tastes and wishes, and it is more than just a big party ,it is a moment to enjoy with friends, family and go with the good vibe that this holiday provides. As Luisa Martins, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro,  says “ I believe that those are the days when we get rid of most of the stress of the routine and have fun. The musical genres represent styles that I listen normally in my life, so it seemed very attractive to unite my musical taste with the differentiated carnival vibe and enjoy the holiday even more” 

In addition to those that are focused on more well-known styles, there are also more alternative “blocos”, such as the northeastern band BaianaSystem, which has already become a tradition during the carnival season. The group’s songs mix rock, MPB – Brazilian popular music –  and reggae raising social and political criticisms about the current Brazilian scenario. However, the lyrics also portray more bohemian feelings and scenes, which creates a more intimate character, since they express an intimacy. 

For Helena Figueroa, who was for the first time this year in BaianaSystem´s ‘bloco’  “I thought it was a very different experience from the more traditional ‘bloquinhos’ with carnival songs, because I think the rhythm of the songs and the actions of people was different”. Figueroa makes a parallel with other parties she attended, “from what I observe in these carnival blocks, music is the most prevalent, and in this one I felt that what predominated most were dances and movements”.



The article above was edited by Clara Suaiden. 

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Mariana Pastorello

Casper Libero '22

Student of journalism, passionate about music, series and culture seeking to find entertainment and unique moments.
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