Popular Brazilian Music

Many different styles of music are included on the list of popular Brazilian music.

Brazil has over 500 years of music history that began with Jesuit priests coming to the country and trying to infuse the indigenous people's music with more religious lyrics and rhythms.

The best way to describe the music heard in Brazil is that it's original and unique. Each style has its own beat, rhythm, and sound.

Various instruments are used to create interesting sounds that range from slow and sensuous to what might be referred to as a frenzied acoustic beat. Every genre of Brazilian music is appreciated throughout the country and in many places around the world.

Popular Brazilian Music Styles

Lundu & Maxixe

The first African music heard in Brazil was lundu. This music was accompanied by a dance that was deemed a bit too erotic at that time, so the dance was no longer done in public as of the 18th century, but the music was still played and enjoyed.

Lundu music is a blend of the Argentinean tango, polka, and Cuban Habanera. It's was the beginnings of what is now recognized as Brazil's very first urban dance music, or maxixe. Nowadays, the dance has been included along with the music. It's still popular throughout Brazil.


Samba is by far the most popular and most recognized music style in Brazil. The Samba has a special swing sound to it. The notes that make up the music are not right on the beat, but rather a bit offbeat. They come together to create an addictive style of music that instinctively makes you want to move your hips and feet, but not in a jerky manner, but rather a fast, fluid motion. It's excellent party or festival music. Samba is most often heard in southeastern and northeast Brazil in the cities of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador. Popular Samba artists include Dorival Caymmi, Martinho da Vila, Carmen Miranda, Pixinguinha, Ary Barroso, Beth Carvalho, and Alcione.


Forro music is Brazil's version of country music. It's just the right combination of notes and instruments to make you want to stomp your feet and square dance! The instruments used to create this style of music include percussion, guitar, accordion, triangle, and flute. It's a rapid dance that you just have to move to! It's heard most often in the northeastern regions of Brazil.

Musica Popular Brasileira

MPB, or Musica Popular Brasileira, combines the sensuous sounds of samba with folk music, pop music, and rock music. It's one of the most recent and contemporary music trends in Brazil, but it has caught on quickly. It's wonderful background music for a party or for simply sitting outside enjoying the summer air. Popular Brazilian music artists of MPB include Gal Costa, Rita Lee, Marisa Monte, Elis Regina, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethania, and Adriana Calcanhotto, to name a few.

Bossa nova

Bossa nova was historically created with a guitar, piano, and a vocalist, but nowadays an orchestra can create a wonderful blend of soft sounds with more than one vocalist. It can be equated to elevator music in the United States.

The song called The Girls from Ipanema, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, was the first Bossa nova style song that became popular outside of Brazil. Artists associated with this style of music include Elis Regina, Toquinho, Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, and Joao Gilberto.


Frevo is an energetic style of music most popular in northeast Brazil. The style is simplistic in nature played by a small band of traditionally three people. Today, you can hear frevo played from the back of a pick up truck or on stage complete with amplifiers and microphones.

Frevo is the primary music played for the Salvadoran Carnival in Brazil each year. It's energetic beat gets everyone in the party mood and makes you feel like celebrating. Popular frevo artists: Nelson Ferreira, Dodo & Osmar, Luperce Miranda, Irmaos Valenca, and Oswaldo Santiago.

Other popular Brazilian music styles include choro, brega, maracatu, Brazilian rock, and axe, to name a few. No matter where you go in Brazil, you will hear music. It might be slow and sensual, it might be frenzied and celebratory, or it might be the soft sounds of classical and operatic music. Everyone can find a music style they will like in Brazil!

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