Brazilian Music


The most famous Brazilian music, mostly percussion and ukelete guitars and very hard to stay still to. Ask someone to teach you the dance moves, which might look hard, but are even harder when you try them! Can be heard at any of the samba club rehearsals. Goes great with beer or more hyper stuff.
CDs and Bands to look for:
Sambas De Enredo Carnaval De 2007
Casa De Samba (Coletânea)
Where to hear it live:
Salgueiro Tue and Sat
Mangueira Wed and Sat
Lapa (various spots)
Rio Scenarium


An improvised samba, made by beating anything that can be found at a bar table: spoon to a bottle as the cymbal, a chair as the drum, matchbox as the shaker etc. Dirty lyrics. Usually women start to dance along to it. Great for afternoons and barbecues.

CDs and Bands to look for:
Jorge Aragão
Zeca Pagodinho
Fundo De Quintal
Beth Carvalho

Where to hear it live:
Beco do Rato
Bip Bip
Rua do Mercado


A slower and more vocal version of samba, with fewer beats, making it more melancholic. It emerged in the 19th Century and it is still around. Not for daily consumption, as its pace can mellow out any excitement.

CDs and Bands to look for:
Jacob Do Bandolin
Joel Nascimento

Where to hear it live:
Praia Vermelha on Mon and Fri
Centro Cultural Carioca
Rio Scenarium

Brazilian Funk

Nothing like American funk, Brazilian Funk is the biggest musical revolution that Brazil has seen in the last 35 years. All the others are dwarfed by the advancements in it´s empowering ability. Up until this you would have to have a voice, a band, a producer, a label, a marketing plan etc, etc to become famous and heard. Now the marginally oppressed, poor and vocally limited all have a chance to make a social commentary on any topic, exposing their new reality. Isn´t that what art is about? Showing us what we somehow don´t see?
So mix simple electric piano loops with dirty lyrics and what do you get? Wild fire. Girls love dancing to it, guys love singing the naughty lyrics and parents hate it. In other words, just the way teenage music should be.
One of the most famous songs is “The p***y is mine and I give it to who I want ” which became a war-cry for new-age feminists.
CDs and Bands to look for:
Mr Catra
Dj Marlboro
Gaiola Das Popozudas
Where to hear it live:
Via Show, Lapa, Favelas

Brazilian Pop (MPB)

In the 60s and 70s, Caetano, Chico, Gil, Djavan and Jorge Benjor, amongst many others, used to play a smooth and upbeat Brazilian version of pop. Unfortunately, most of them offer poetic lyrics that don’t mean anything when translated, making its enjoyment harder, but the instrumentals, melodies and voices are very pleasant to the ear. Get a Jorge Benjor for your car, Djavan for your sofa, Gil for your garden and Marisa Monte for your bed. If you make a Brazilian friend who is willing to translate, get Chico Buarque and get ready for a major head-rush.
CDs and Bands to look for:
Gilberto Gil
Jorge Benjor
Caetano Veloso
Where to hear it live:
Rio Scenarium
Lapa 40 Graus
Fundição Progresso
Circo Voador

Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova is the grandfather of lounge music, that tranquil sound you hear when you think of casinos in the 50’s, Frank Sinatra and ocean views. Tom Jobim (Antonio Carlos Jobim) is the Picasso of this music genre and, many believe, did more to put Brazil on the international music scene than any other individual. Today it is still enjoyed by mature listeners and everyone else on the lounge scene. Ideal for before and after sex.

CDs and Bands to look for:
Tom Jobim
Vinicius de Morais
João Gilberto

Where to hear it live:
Quase 9 (beach kiosk, Ipanema)
The Maze
Esch Cafe


Forró music is a slowed-down version of a barn dance: very country. It was so out of style that it came back in and is popular again. Basically, you grab a girl (a great reason to grab women) and dance like everyone else in the room: real close, rotating clockwise, two steps out, two steps in, then on the other foot. Repeat all night.

CDs and Bands to look for:
Luis Gonzaga
Jackson Do Pandeiro
Where to hear it live:
Severyna on Mondays
Estudantina on Tuesdays
Democraticos on Wednesday
Feira de São Cristovão


If rock lyrics barely make sense in English, then in Portuguese they are just as impenetrable. Given the music industry’s woes, talented new artists have not emerged in a while. What the kids have been doing is reviving bands from the 70’s, like the Mutantes, Raul Seixas (Brazil’s answer to Bob Dylan, but on even more drugs), Secos e Molhados and others, all of whom still have a very fresh sound. (Rumor has it that Kurt Cobain gave a CD of the Mutantes to Beck back in ‘94 and told him to analyze their style.) For a glimpse of the new talent, start with Pitty, Los Hermanos and Detonautas.

CDs and Bands to look for:
Rita Lee
Pitty (photo)
Casia Eller
Cidade Negra

Where to hear it live:
Teatro Odisseia
Circo Voador
Fundição Progresso

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