It was at the carnival that passed

Image: Gareth Nyandoro


Comments on auditions of carnival sambas

Carnival is over, but I'm still selecting my musical pearls. Still listening to CD's, I make my audition list. Repertoire tuned to the carnival. In the tones of the diversity of rhythms and beats, I enter the love block by Beatriz Rabello. The album's title is a song by Paulinho da Viola. In another of its thirteen tracks, he has a special participation, with voice and guitar in “Só o Tempo”, written by him. We revelers are carried away by “Dream of a Carnival” (Chico Buarque), “Enredo do Meu Samba” (Dona Ivone Lara and Jorge Aragão), “Ash Wednesday March” (Carlos Lyra and Vinícius de Moraes ), among other poetic and loving songs to rock the players on the days of revelry.

Centro Cultural Cartola, Museu do Samba and the label Biscoito Fino released, in 2015, the double CD Sambas for Mangueira. From A to Z, 31 names, from several generations, exalting green and pink. Artistic personalities linked to other samba associations, put aside rivalries and participate in the phonographic exaltation. On CD 1, the Portelense Monarco, in an intergenerational duet with Dudu Nobre, sing “Silenciar a Mangueira Não” (Cartola). And then follow the titles of the tracks with the name of the honorable association: “Sempre Mangueira” (Nelson Cavaquinho and Geraldo Queiroz), “A Mangueira calls me” (Nelson Cavaquinho, Bernardo de A. Soares e José Ribeiro), “Mangueira, Divine and Wonderful” (Nelson Sargento), “Who Moves to Mangueira” (Zé da Zilda). “Mangueirense Feliz” (Jorge Zagaia and Moacyr Luz), in the voice of Martinho da Vila Isabel, shows the reception of the mangueirenses to the calls “from outside” to honor her. In their receptive rooms, with Cartola, they embrace “the enemy as if he were a brother”.

In the “Capital of Samba” (José Ramos), the Velha Guarda da Mangueira and its wobbly plantations claim: “And the seed of samba only Mangueira has”. In the list of those welcomed, historical Mangueirenses and supporters of other schools sing to praise “what Mangueira has”. In the vocal declaration of love to the muse of Morro, the “first station”, the tones of Beth Carvalho, Sandra Portella, Tantinho, Alcione, Xande de Pilares, Sombrinha, Leci Brandão, Nelson Sargento, Rody, Sapoti and Marquinho Diniz. Everyone exalts the “great champion”, the one who “makes today the sambista of tomorrow”.

On CD 2 of Sambas for Mangueira, we arrive at “Estação Derradeira” (Chico Buarque), with Leny Andrade on vocals. The revered samba school receives the musical writing of Porto native Paulinho da Viola in the composition “Sei Lá Mangueira”, with the partnership of Hermínio Bello de Carvalho. In singing, Moyseis Marques highlights the poetry, beauty and grandeur of the Mangueirense scene, “which cannot even be explained” in the musicians' language. Traditional and talkative Mangueira with the waddle of “his cabochos” and the chime of “his tambourines”. With its glorious past, “engraved in history”, the “green-pink” earns Teresa Cristina's exaltation.

Mangueira arrives, splendorous, and the hill, “with its zinc sheds”, shows the beauty generated by its people. “Lá in Mangueira” (Herivelto Martins and Heitor dos Prazeres), the moonlit lovers give their hearts and almost always cry when they leave the mangueirense sheds. Romanticism with guitar, cavaco, flute, surdo, tambourine, tantã, reco-reco, tambourine, ring peal, cuíca and ganzá.

“World of Zinc” (Wilson Baptista and Antônio Nássara) which “is close to heaven”. “Os Meninos da Mangueira” (Sérgio Cabral and Rildo Hora) and their drumming references: Dona Zica, “Carlos Cachaça, the minstrel”; “Mestre Cartola, the bachelor”; “Your Delegate, a dancer” and Marcelino. And the kids question “Pandirinho”, “Preto Rico” and “Dona Neuma, wonderful”, “the first woman in the pink-green”. Carlos Cachaça is sung as “genius of the race”. Moacyr Luz and partner Aldir Blanc, in the “quilombo of the first station” and its drums, in a historical rewrite, poeticize the moment when “the trees dawn” and wear “the rose of the embroiderer dawn” on the flag of Mangueirense. In the cadence of its sambistas and its brunette cheeks, “Mangueira” (Assis Valente and Zequinha Reis), like her “does not exist” and “is always in first place”.

Jurandir da Mangueira, João Boa Gente, Noel Rosa, Estudande da Mangueira, Benedito Lacerda, Eratóstenes Frazão, José Ramos and Xangô da Mangueira, were inspired to make sambas in the poor huts of the suffering people. Rising and falling, it oozes humanity. He slaps and kisses, works and plays. Anonymous, valuable, mischievous people, despite the leaks in the shack, poor and full of holes. Woes of pain and “traditional” and “sensational” carnivals. For all these reasons, Mangueira lives in the hearts of past, present and future fans. Sambas composed for the carnival association and sung by different generations.

For her, with the vocal affection of Ana Costa, Leo Russo, Nilcemar Nogueira, Ataulpho Jr., Flavia Saolli, Rixxa, Gabrielzinho do Irajá, Nilze Carvalho, Dorina and Paulo Márquez. Sambas for Mangueira, in a double dose, presented by the City of Rio de Janeiro, through the Municipal Secretariat of Culture, is a tribute to the lyrical fascination generated by Mangueira, in the sound of Cartola, whose dream of transfusing his green and pink blood becomes concrete with the young composers who, like him, declare their love for Mangueira. Loving declaration during “all the time I live”, in the lyric from Cartola.

Another double CD is part of my carnival show: 100 Years of Carnival – Banda do Canecão. From “Zé Pereira” to “Hope it rains”. From “Madalena” to “Cidade Maravilhosa”, 141 songs with booklets narrating the story and photos for researchers to read, hear and see. Dated from 1974, in times of generals in Brazilian power, the carnival sound document brings, in its credits, the names of expressive scholars in the music research group. I highlight the participation of José Ramos Tinhorão and Sérgio Cabral. Let's make way with Chiquinha Gonzaga from 1899 to reach the “better world of Pixinguinha”, in Portela in 1974. ”. “I wonder if he is?”.

At the Momina party, between a samba, a marchinha and a maracatu loa, there is plenty of space for the company of lyrics. Bibliographical references to better conjugate the verb sambar. The carnivalesque chronicle, the “tempting” and “irresistible” carnival songs, the humorous marches, momo kings and sambista queens, the “costumes and props of the old carnivals”, the floats “of the first parades of the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro Janeiro” and names such as “Paulo Benjamin de Oliveira”, “Paulo da Portela”, make up a collection of images evocative of the embryos of the historical process of “the affirmation of samba as a musical genre” (NETO, 2017). Pleasure and pain in masquerades. Joy, extravagance and festive delights reign in the “elegant clubs” and on the streets. “Carnival is the greatest caricature, in revelry people forget their bitterness”, sing the salgueirenses of GRES Acadêmicos do Salgueiro, parading the samba-enredo “Traços e troços” (Traços e troços) (Celso Trindade, Bala), in 1983.

From Anacleto de Medeiros to Cartola, “the perenniality of samba as an African form in Brazil” is seen from a historiographic perspective in which “the musical genre” and its samba producers exalt the “creative role” and “erudition of blacks”, in tune with with national identity. In the Brazilian multiculturalism, in a diverse cultural mosaic, carnival meets the people in the streets and plays with the pretense of respect for ethnic diversity, the face of a country of “many identities” (SIQUEIRA, 2012).

Creators and scholars sing freedom and joy as they cross the illuminated walkway. With euphoria, they play with a question from the imaginary of children's fairy tales: “tell my mirror, is there anyone happier than me on the avenue?”. A striking question sung in the samba-plot “É Hoje” (Didi, Mestrinho), in a memorable GRES União parade on Ilha do Governador, in 1982. “Now that's carnival!”.

*Francisco de Oliveira Barros Junior He is a professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Federal University of Piauí.


NETO, Lira. A History of Samba: vol. I (The origins)🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2017.

SIQUEIRA, Magno Bissoli. Samba and National Identity: from the origins to the Vargas era. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2012.

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