Aquarela do Brasil
The colors to Brazil's popular national anthem
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Revaluation of samba in Chico Buarque’
Vol 1, No 1 (2006)  Sabrina Lastman

Barry Walters on the documentary "Bananas is my business" for

Viva Carmen! by Bruce Gilman at


Extraordin Ary by Arthur de Faria translated by Barbara Maglio for

Ary Barroso discography by

Brasil, meu Brasil brasileiro,
Meu mulato inzoneiro,
Vou a cantar-te nos meus versos.
Ô Brasil, samba que dá
Ô Brasil do meu amor,
  Brazil, my Brazilian Brazil,
My good-looking mulatto.
I’m going to sing you in my verses.
O Brazil, samba that gives
A swing that makes you sway.
O Brazil that I love,

JJao Gilberto - Aquarela do Brasil


BRAZIL (Published English Version performed to the music Aquarela do Brazil)

Brazil, the Brazil that I know,
Where I wandered with you
Lives in my imagination.

Where the songs are passionate,
And a smile has flash in it,
And a kiss has art in it,
For you put your heart in it,
And so I dream of old Brazil

Where hearts were entertaining June,
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly murmured “someday soon”
We kissed and clung together,
Then tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say
Now when twilight dims the sky above,
Recalling thrills of our love,
There’s one thing I’m certain of;
Return I will to old Brazil.


Daniela Mercury 1:56
Brazil, Brazil For me, for me
Oh! These murmuring fountains
Where I quench my thirst
And where the moon comes to play
Oh! This brown and beautiful Brazil
You are my Brazilian Brazil
Land of Samba and tambourines
Brazil, Brazil, for me, for me
(McGowan and Pessanha, The Brazilian 23)
Composer Ary Barroso
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Composer Ary Barroso (born November 7, 1903 in Ubá, Minas Gerais and died February 9, 1964 in Rio de Janeiro) Aquarela do Brasil is  his best known composition. In the 1920s and '30s, Barroso revamped the Brazilian samba, making it more accessible to international audiences, and was one of Carmen Miranda's favorite songwriters.

“Aquarela do Brasil” was first performed in the theatrical revue Entra na Faixa on 16 June 1939 by the popular singer Araci Cortes with little fanfare. However it was not long before many were clamoring for the right to record it. The foremost living Ary Barroso interpreter is, João Gilberto, who has given many of Barroso's tunes a new  life and whose recordings of “Aquarela do Brasil” are widely acclaimed.

"Aquarela" competed for the Oscar for Best Song as part of the musical score of Disney's 1943 film, Saludos, Amigos (Alô, Amigos in Brazil). He was asked to spend a spell in Hollywood to write music for a new film that would be called Brazil. On the 31st of December, 1944, Ary Barroso received the Merit Award of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences for the samba "Rio de Janeiro," from the musical score of the film Brazil.

In November 1997 Aquarela do Brasil was voted Best Brazilian Song of the Century by a jury of thirteen experts assembled by the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

Ary Barroso's lived life large as a carioca in the public eye. Newspaper columnist, color commentator for his beloved Flamengo soccer team and a TV personality.  His most memorable moments on TV came when he terrorized stardom candidates on the Star Search like Calouros em Desfile program.  Elza Soares, dirt poor, was introduced on the show. Very skinny, and disheveled, with a borrowed dress much larger than she was, Ary teased her: "What planet are you from?" She, without embarrassment: "Planet Hungry, Ary". She sung, shined, and still managed an unprecedented victory as Ary always respected talent.

Ary was one of the first passionate color commentators, quick to interview players and shamelessly root for his beloved Flamengo. He played his harmonica, which was his trademark whenever there was a goal.

 It was the Carnaval night of February 9th, 1964 as well as the eve of the last military coup;  Império Serrano samba school was entering the avenue, with the theme "Aquarela do Brasil", in homage to the great composer. Only they paraded in mourning and late. They started at 10:00 p.m. At 9:50 a telephone message let them know that Ary had just been struck by a heart attack.

"Aquarela do Brasil" ("Watercolor of Brazil", also known in the English-speaking countries simply as "Brazil") is called the unofficial anthem of Brazil.

It will long continue to remain among the most noted  of Brazilian patriotic songs. This song marked the creation of a new genre, the Samba-exaltação (Exaltation Samba), which was adopted by the nationalistGetúlio Vargas dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas. With the rise of the Estado Novo, (New State) centralizing efforts accelerated with a government's quest for shared national identity and the selection of Afro-Brazilian culture as a critical component. With the passing of the Old Republic, too long controlled by entrenched powerful Sao Paulo coffee oligarchs, the new president Vargas became convinced that radio and live music programmers should give priority to Brazilian performers and a new national identity.

The national government lent strong support to an informal alliance dedicated to "a new Brazil" with a broad if vague vision of modernization and promoting industry. The Vargas government established the DIP—Department of Press and Propaganda. "Its function is not just to supervise broadcasting in the country, but to also guide Brazilian radio in its cultural, social, and political activities".

The 1920s had brought the music recording industry to the forefront, just as the samba rhythm was reaching a across class lines and beginning to capture the spirit of the Carioca carnaval. The samba musical genre, at first identified strongly with the black population of Rio de Janeiro was in the process of becoming inseparable as a mixture of music and dance, conceptually a powerful unifying symbol of Brazil for Brazilians.

 Samba musically began as responsorial singing that cultivates the call-and-response performing style, and percussive interplay, or the batucada. That samba was able to captivate the cariocas, the cultural arbiters for the entire country was a powerful force in its rise to dominance.

General Getulio Vargas (1930-1937), and during his "Estado Novo" military dictatorship (1937-1945, heralded the development of samba as a unifying element of Brazilian culture. Typical of samba exaltação it is characterized lyrically by romantic patriotism and musically by long involved melodies and arrangements keeping the North American big-band sound. In 1939, "Aquarela do Brasil" won first prize in a popular music contest sponsored by—guess—the DIP which will forever stand as the greatest symbol of samba exaltação.

 Indeed it was a indulgence of most popular music during that period, American and French included, to praise national glories. This was particularly true of dictators as both Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy, relied heavily on nationalism to solidify their place in the government. According to Bruce Gilman " If the Brazilian's boasting seemed to be more pronounced, it was possibly because Ary Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil" is a much better tune than Irving Berlin's "God Bless America."

Carmen Miranda had been extolling the wonders of everything Brazilian well before the 1937 dictatorship of Vargas and his Estado Novo movement.  Her meteoric career rise to the top carried this same theme of praise for the land that we love to all segments of Brazilian society. Her Brazilian character would eventually became a prized part of the culture and what it means to be Brazilian.

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"Carmen Miranda not only translated the black samba for a white audience, originated the Brazilian way of singing, and instigated the new standard of performance practice for Brazilian popular music; she defined the Carioca woman.

" The Brazilian women who opened the twentieth century were delicate, susceptible, squeamish, always well dressed, and always fleeing from men. Carmen created the seductive image of the Brazilian woman who meet men joyously, legs and cleavage showing. "

Bruce Gilman

The famous Carmen Miranda phrase "bananas is my business" comes from a self-mocking response to her critics she did in the 1940s, to address the perception of being stereotyped.   Carmen's show business career did suffer from her archetypal creation of a persona which became inseparable from both her screen identity and public persona. It's lack of depth was a source of resentment by Latin America women as the power of her image came to represent all Latin American woman as a comical icon of fertility and friendliness that threatened no one.
Unlike Madonna whose implacable show business sense during the 80's & 90's allowed her to recreate her image several times under the gaze of the world, Carmen Miranda became depressed as her star began its descent.
Carmen Miranda's early death at the age of 46 cements her now classic memories into our shared consciousness.

The role of creating a new more complete and complex image of Latin American women has fallen to the generations to come in the 21st century. Today thousands of electrifying samba girls performing in Brazilian dance troupes throughout the world take the stage with an altogether different attitude than professional female pole dancers.

Today's samba dancers are cultural warriors.  They know where they came from and gladly acknowledge their debts to the music and dance of samba and


Aquarela based in the San Francisco Bay Area competes with Aquarela of Paris, France as the best known Samba dance troupe associated with the most famous samba song

 the story of Carmen Miranda. With their smiles, accent on their womanly charms and choreography they are holding up the ideal of joyful living in the present, demanding equality on their own terms where beauty and hard work are rewarded, and advancing a society that respects the rising power of the sacred feminine.

Luisao performs Aquarela do Brasil  

© 2006 Luisao
Check out the
Luisao website
"Smile of happiness, just because the music sounds so good, so calm, so quiet, and at the same time so vibrant, so loud, so clear, so real... And isn't that what makes us feel good?"
A fan at

Luisão surprises with his magic and involving voice, the control of the Portuguese language, and also by having a very personal style. While in concert, his best companion is his guitar, which he compares to his latest love affairs, with the sole difference that she’ll never let him down.

  Aquarela do Brasil from Disney's classic film "Saludos Amigos"

Saludos Amigos  is a 1942 animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions set in Latin America ands made up of four different segments.   Although a short 42 minutes Saludos Amigos was the first Disney cartoon movie to earn a sequel, The Three Caballeros,  produced two years later. The film premiered in Rio de Janeiro on August 24, 1942. It was released in the United States on February 6, 1943.

Aquarela do Brasil (or "Watercolor of Brazil"), the finale of the film, involved a brand-new character, José Carioca, showing Donald Duck around South America and introduce him to the samba (to the tunes of "Brazil" and "Tico Tico").

 Walt DisneyIn August 1941, Walt Disney visited Brazil on a U.S. State Department Good Neighbor Policy mission. In Belém do Pará, he complained to journalist Celestino Silveira that the hotel band was playing only North American tunes. Silveira asked the musicians to play Brazilian music, and the pianist played “Aquarela do Brasil.”  On the flight from Belém to Rio de Janeiro, Disney discussed the creation of the José Carioca character and the kind of song that should accompany it. He remembered “Aquarela” and asked Silveira if he knew the composer. The following day, Disney and Ary Barroso met at a cocktail party given by the U.S. consulate at the Hotel Glória in Rio and Disney acquired the rights to use “Brazil.”    

The United States Department of State
commissioned this movie during World War II to be shown in Central and South America to build up relations with the Latin American populace. Several governments including Argentina had close ties with Nazi Germany and the most popular US figure there was Mickey Mouse.

“Aquarela do Brasil” was performed in Portuguese by Aloysio de Oliveira, founder of the pioneer vocal-instrumental group Bando da Lua, musical director for Carmen Miranda, and later the most important bossa-nova recording mogul in Brazil.

"Aquarela" competed for the Oscar for Best Song as part of the musical score of Disney's 1943 film. Ary Barroso, the composer after several trips to Hollywood and two additional movie projects  decided he would rather stay close to his beloved Flamengo soccer team in Rio
2000 DVD cover of Saludos Amigos.
2000 DVD cover of Saludos Amigos.
Samba Dance                &

Samba Dance
1 Samba de Gafieira

2 Samba Pagode

3 Samba Axé

4 Samba-rock

Timing samba
Samba is a lively, rhythmical dance of Brazilian origin in 2/4 time danced under the Samba music. However, there are three steps to every bar, making the Samba feel like a 3/4 timed dance.  The festive style and mood of the dance has kept it alive and popular

There is actually a set of dances, rather than a single dance, that define the Samba dancing scene in the country; thus, no one dance can be claimed with certainty as the "original" Samba style..  In Brazil, the form of Samba is more of a single person dance."Samba no pé" is a solo dance that is most often danced impromptu when samba music is played. The basic movement involves a straight body and a bending of one knee at a time. The feet move very slightly - only a few inches at a time. The rhythm is 2/4, with 3 steps per measure. It can be described calling it and-a-one, and-a-two, then back to one. The basic movement is the same to either side, where one foot moves to the outside lifting up just before the first beat, lifting on the "and-a" and replacing itself on the floor on the one beat (i.e. the right leg moves slightly to the right) and this leg is kept straight. The other foot moves slightly towards the front, and closer to the first foot. The second leg bends slightly at the knee so that the left side of the hip lowers and the right side appears to move higher. The weight is shifted to this inside foot briefly for the next "and-a", then shifted back to the outside foot on the "two", and the same series of actions is repeated towards the other side.

The dance simply follows the beat of the music and can go from average pace to very fast. Men dance with the whole foot on the ground while women, often wearing heels, dance just on the balls of the foot. Professionals may change the steps slightly, taking 4 steps per measure instead of 3, and often add various arm movements depending on the mood of the music.

Samba is counted in 2/4 time (2 beats to a bar of music). The only important thing to remember is that the dance is done in triple time - meaning, three steps are performed in two beats.

“Technically, samba has a 2/4 meter, an emphasis on the second beat, a stanza-and-refrain alternation structure, and many interlocking, syncopated lines in the melody and accompaniment.”  (McGowan and Pessanha, The Brazilian 23)

Aquarela do Brasil has been successful through the years and has been played in many different styles, from a capella to orchestral arrangements.
It has been covered by many artists, including João Gilberto, Gal Costa, The
cover artCoasters, Chick Corea, Juan García Esquivel, Xavier Cugat, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt, Chris de Burgh, Frank Sinatra, Toquinho, Tom Jobim, Kate Bush (for Brazil (film), though the main title version of the song was performed by Geoff Muldaur) Arcade Fire, Cornelius, The Vengaboys, Johnny Mathis, Rossa Passos, Pink Martini, and Guster. The Ritchie Family recorded a vaguely related version in the age of disco; the core tune is partially preserved, but the lyrics are completely different.

The wikipedia article on samba identifies many different types of samba music. Most familiar  are the sambas de enredo, the theme songs of Rio's Carnival parades which feature the large percussion sections or batucadas marching with hundreds of singers and dancers in escolas de samba or samba schools. However, most recordings feature the samba-cancão or samba-song, best represented by prominent singers from the samba schools like Martinho Da Vila, Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola, Clara Nunes and others, who record in the studio with the same percussion instruments (but fewer!) and add other instrumentation like a seven-string guitar, a ukelele-like cavaquinho and, in general, employ more sophisticated arrangements.