Samba history
enters Rio de Janeiro,

The dance and music of samba history entered Rio with refugee slaves coming from Africa, the origin of samba. The slave trading focus point in Brazil was the Bahia and Salvador. But the holding of slaves was prohibited in 1888; many went south to the Capitol of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.

One of the first famous people in Brazil and Rio de Janeiro Samba history was Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos, who lived from 1889 to 1974. The name Ernesto would be known as Donga and the “choro” (A type of Brazilian Samba), which is recognized as the first samba carnavalesco, “pelo telefone”.


The band Oita Batutas performed the song and became a huge hit at the 1917 Brazil carnival.

His aunt Ciata, who practised Condomble from the state of Bahia, inspired and influenced the Samba music of Donga. Candomble is still a religion from Africa practised with heavy drums, rituals and steps reminding of the samba dance. Many think these rituals to worship their gods were the origin of samba.

Like many Tia Ciata lived near the Praça Onze in Rio de Janeiro, which was the gathering place of ex-slaves and immigrants from the northeast of Brazil. Here Donga met other earlier music forms of Samba like the samba de roda (ring samba), the jongo, and the afoxé.

Samba de roda was a dance often performed in the morros de Rio de Janeiro, meaning in the slum cities or where poor people lived, surrounding Rio de Janeiro. In Samba history, this dance was performed as a ring of people singing, clapping their hands and playing drums and other light instruments, while two people had kind of a samba competition, which could be aggressive, inside. Many draw connections to Capoeira, the braziliand martial arts / dance, performed in a similar ring. Without a doubt allot of new samba dance steps were created here!

By the late 1920s, in the labourers' quarters of the Cidade Nova, the "new city of Rio", there lived former black slaves and Caboclos nordestinos who had fled the north east of Brazil. In the 1920s these inhabitants of the Morros de Rio agreed on the fact that Samba was a common musical language, which previously was only known, in the Candomblé centres and bars of the Lundus, Batuques and Bahia Ranchers. They also agreed that the Maxixes and Choros, by musicians like Donga, Sinho and Pixinguinha, were their own new and particular form of Carnival music.

Almost everything in the line of urban Rio music, from Choro to Samba, originated from the Cidade Nova, with its Praça Onze, the Samba schools and Boates. Even the Bossa Nova, which became popular in the 1950s/1960s, which according to general opinion was the creation of middle-class white youths from the southern zones stretching from Leme to Leblon, would never have come to being without the already existing Samba-Canção basis on which it was built.

In 1922 Donga, Pixinguinha and the other members of the band Oita Batutas took the band's unique music to Paris and toured with the Maxixe dancer, Duque. There they blended Jazz influences with their own unique sound. After their return from Paris in 1923, composers including Donga, Pixinguinha, Sinhô (José Barbosa da Silva), and Heitor dos Prazeres experimented with different instruments and sounds and established the genre called Samba-Carioca.

In 1928, however, Samba history exploded with the creation of the Samba schools. The music and form got back the original African heavy drums with Vargas claiming the power in 1930.


From Samba History back to Samba City Main Page

From Samba History back to Origin of Samba