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Brazil

Brazil

Geography & Topography

Capital: Brasilia

Area: 8,515,767 km2

Population: 193,946,886

Language: Portuguese

Religion: Roman Catholicism (73%) , Protestantism ( 15%)

Currency: Real

History

Brazil is the largest country in South America and has a population of 190 million, making it the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population. Due to its size, Brazil shares land borders with almost every country in South America.  Brazil was a colony of Portugal until 1822 and is currently the only Portuguese-speaking country in the Americas and the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.  Brazil is a multicultural country as most Brazilians descend from the country’s indigenous peoples, Portuguese settlers, and African slaves.  Brazil has the world’s largest Catholic population.

Until recently the main styles of music played in Brazil were Samba, MPB, Choro, Sertanejo, Brega, Forró, Frevo, Maracatu, Bossa nova, and Axé. Today instrumental music is largely practiced in Brazil, with styles ranging from classical to popular and jazz influenced forms. Brazil also has a growing community of modern/experimental composition, including electro-acoustic music. Nevertheless, Samba remains the best known form of Brazilian music worldwide.


The most recognizable instruments in traditional Brazilian music are:

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Agogô

Agogô, the oldest Samba Instrument

Agogô: The agogô originated from traditional Yoruba bells in West Africa and is considered to be the oldest Samba instrument. It is made of metal and the most common arrangement is two bells attached by a ‘U’ shaped piece of metal. This allows a differently pitched note to be produced depending on which bell has been hit.

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Pandeiro

Pandeiro, a hand frame drum originated from Portugal

Pandeiro:The pandeiro is a type of hand frame drum that originated in Portugal. It is a hand percussion instrument consisting of a single tension-headed drum with pairs of small metal jingles, called ‘zils’, in the frame. Typical pandeiro patterns are played by alternating the thumb, fingertips, heel, and palm of the hand.

culturalinfusion/soundinfusion-Berimbau

Berimbau, a single-string percussion instrument

Berimbau:The berimbau is a single-string percussion instrument believed to originate from Africa. The berimbau consists of a wooden bow of approximately 1.2m to 1.5 m in length, with a steel string secured from one end of the bow to the other. A round gourd, dried, opened and hollowed-out, is attached to the lower end of the bow and acts as a resonator. Since the 1950s, Brazilian berimbaus have been painted in bright colours.

Some interesting facts:

  • During Carnival, the most famous holiday in Brazil, the country stops completely for almost a week of parades and festivities.
  • The Amazon Rainforest, which stretches into the north of Brazil, is recognised as having the greatest biological diversity in the world.
  • There are about 2,500 airports in Brazil.

Brazilian Community in Australia:

More information on the Brazilian community: