Monobloco Closes 2013 Carnival

Carnival officially ends on Fat Tuesday, which was last Tuesday, February 12th. However, 48 blocos continued to parade down the streets of Rio over the weekend. There was even an appearance from ‘Blue Man Group’. The group Monobloco closed out the ceremonies with it’s performance that drew 500,000.

Monobloco is well known for performing songs from other genres and performing traditional marches. The procession this year included four main songs: A Deusa dos Orixás“ (The Goddess of the Orixás, about Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea in the Candomblé relegion), “Timoneiro” (Helmsman), “Das maravilhas do mar” (The wonders of the sea”) and “Marcha do remador” (Song of the rower).

This large percussion type band was created in 2000, and always draws a large Brazilian following. Pedro Luis, along with members of his band “Pedro Luís e a Parede” created Monobloco. They are given credit for starting the now yearly trend of “bloco de rua”, which continues to grow each year and features small and big bands performing in Rio’s streets during Carnival.

“It is a great pride and responsibility for us to have enabled lay people to become musicians and often founding their own blocks” Pedro Luis says.

Some other performers included: Quizomba andFanfari.

Carnival 2013 Winner Announced

Unidos de Vila Isabel Carnival 2013, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

On Wednesday afternoon, February 13th, G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel was announced winner of this year’s Carnival in Rio. This marks the third championship for the samba school and the closing of Carnival.

Crowds and judges alike were amazed by Vila Isabel’s theme presentation: A Vila canta o Brasil, celeiro do mundo – Água no feijão que chegou mais um” (The Vila sings Brazil, world’s breadbasket – Add more water to the beans, one more has arrived). They were lead by Carnival designer, Rosa Magalhaes, who ensured the parade was maxed out with bright costumes and beautiful and elaborate floats. The theme song the school played during their parade was also highly praised, and could be heard being sung by people in the crowd throughout the rest of Carnival. It was composed by Brazilian composer, Arlindo Cruz.

The schools that were closely behind Vila Isabel were Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, and Empress Leopoldinense. But, once the scores were tallied on live television, Vila Isabel was the clear winner.

Vila Isabel will parade again amongst the other top five schools – Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, Imperatriz,Salgueiro and Grande Rio – on Saturday, February 16th at the Sambadromo.

You can watch a clip of Vila Isabel’s performance here:

[Pictures] Carnival 2013

Another year of Carnival has wound down in Rio, just in time for the beginning of Lent. Many of us weren’t able to make it to the world famous event, so here’s some pictures taken during this years Carnival celebration.

Samba Schools Gearing Up for Carnival 2013

Carnival is Brazil’s biggest and most renowned yearly event. It’s know for its bright costumes, samba dancers, loud music, and parade floats – but it’s also an important competition for Samba Schools.

There are six divisions of Samba schools, with over seventy schools throughout the divisions – Special Group, and groups A, B, C, D, E. Only schools in the Special Group will appear in the parade. Twelve of Brazil’s highest ranking Samba schools will make it into the Special group. The schools chosen this year are: Inocentes de B. Roxo, Salgueiro, Unidos da Tijuca, União da Ilha, Mocidade, Portela, São Clemente, Mangueira, Beija-flor, Grande Rio, Imperatriz and Vila Isabel.

So, how do the schools have a shot at winning in the Carnival competition? It all begins many months before Carnival starts. Schools first choose their theme, a theme that needs to be displayed throughout their performance. The, during Carnival, the panel of judges scores each school in the following categories: Theme of the Year, Samba Song, Percussion Section, Harmony, Continuing Spirit Throughout the Parade , Overall Impression, Float and Props, Costumes, Front Commission or Vanguard Group, and The Flag Carrying Couple. Results, and the winners, are then announced on Ash Wednesday after Carnival has concluded. The school with the highest score is that year’s Carnival champion, however the school ranked the lowest will get demoted to Group A.

Samba: The Music of Carnival

Music is a substantial part of Brazilian history and culture, whether it’s the musical sounds of Brazilian Choro, energetic feel of Brazilian Samba, the musical movement dubbed Tropicalismo, or the rooty sounds of Bahian, they have all played an important role in making Brazil what it is today. In this article we are focusing on Samba – the official music of Brazil’s Carnival.

In the early 20th century, music was needed for the Rio Carnival celebrations, thus the Samba de Enredo was born. This type of Samba consists of one or two singers, joined by hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of chorus members and drummers. Samba de Enredo is described as being the loudest form of music you’ll ever experience, and the really amazing thing is it’s all done without any form of amplification. Local Rio Samba schools make a recorded compilation of music from that year’s Carnival every year. Although listening to a recording is nowhere near as powerful as it is live, you can take a listen to this recorded sample with the link below:

Samba-Cancao is another form of Samba derived from Samba de Enredo. While still along the same musical line, Samba-Cancao is much quieter and is performed by only one singer and one back up band. This type of Samba can consist of both fast and slow songs, and is retains more popularity than the grander scale Samba de Enredo in Brazil due to its more relaxed pace. Some of the more popular Samba-Cancao artists are Beth Carvalho, who holds title of Queen of this genre, Alcione, and Clara Nunes, and Paulinho da Viola. Take a listen to the Queen of Samba at the link below:

Dancing to Samba is an entire art-form in itself. In fact, entire schools in Brazil are dedicated to teaching the Samba and this dance is taken rather seriously by many. The Samba is generally danced in 2/4 time, but there are several constantly changing types of Samba:

Samba No Pe – Solo samba dance consisting of right and left leg lifts coinciding with the beat of the song. This is the most popular form of Samba dance used in Carnival events. Take a look at the link below to see some Carnival Samba dancing:

Samba de Gafieira – This is a partner Samba that is often looked at as a combination of the Waltz and the Tango.

Samba Pagode – A more intimate version of the Samba de Gafieira and with less acrobatics.

Samba Axe – An entirely choreographed solo version of Samba.

Samba de Roda – This is an Afro-Brazilian dance that is choreographed and includes singing, clapping, dancing, even poetry.