Wherever you go in Brazil, specially in Saldador da Bahia or Rio de Janeiro, you will always encounter local or national Brazilian music being played to enthusiastic and delighted audiences.
Rio de Janeiro is the samba center, with hundreds of samba schools deeply connected to Carnival performances. You can always arrange things to see a samba school rehearsal, or to watch a samba show, even outside the Carnival period.
Just ask how to to, in your hotel. There are regular samba shows for tourists, such as in Morro da Urca, near Sugar Lofe, every Monday's night.
To hear other music styles, you can go to a good bar or club in Lapa, a famous and agreeable Rio's zone, where music traditions are deeply rooted. But there are other alternatives. Just look for advice in your hotel.
The music soul of Brazil
Salvador da Bahia (capital of Bahia State) is often referred to as the musical heart of Brazil. Many of the rhythms of Brazil, many of the composers and many musical hits were born in Bahia, particularly in Salvador (where the musics aren't as restricted to a particular style as Rio de Janeiro is with samba).
It's a a location very connected to religious practices, to Carnival, to particular cultural forms and ways of living. In Salvador you will find groups of people singing songs at street corner bars, groups of amateur musicians playing in streets with small drums, guitars, or other improvised instruments, and permanent music shows at beach huts.
Enjoy music in the beach
In Salvador, the easiest way to enjoy the Brazilian music is at the beach, in one of the big huts that function as restaurants and bars.
Go, sit, ask for a drink, and listen. The music in these places is generally genuine, not at all commercial. Salvador is truly a unique place.
You can also go to Pelourinho area at night. The zone is very lively, with a great number of bars with very good music.
Carnival rehearsals, afoxes
Other musical options in Salvador da Bahia include:
- street carnival rehearsals (December-February period)
- the afoxe (music and dance with deep religious-african origins)
- club houses and cultural groups connected to music and Carnival activities.
- and, of course, the Carnival musical circuits.
Inform yourself locally. Your hotel can be a good starting-point.
For more information, about Bahia:
Nightlife, entertainment, cuisine and shopping in Bahia
Carnival in Bahia
Sao Paulo doesn't have the street and popular musical traditions of Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia. There is a rich local jazz tradition though. There is a great diversity of musical sounds brought in by imigrants, though, as mentioned before, there are other locations in Brazil where music is much more appreciated than in Sao Paulo.
Nevertheless, we shouldn't forget the huge metropolis of more than ten million people that is Sao Paulo. That massive number allows for great music festivals and other interesting opportunities. Very characteristic of Sao Paulo are the gafieiras (dancehalls), excellent to enjoy Brazilian country music like forro, or trevo, from the northeast. If you are audacious enough to mix yourself with the habits and language of the imigrants in those crowded and noisy places, go to a good gafieira. You will know at first hand (or as close as you can get) what these types of musics consist of.
Bars and clubs
But the most common and advisable places to go are the bars and clubs in central zones. Bixiga quarter (near Sao Paulo downtown) and Faria de Lima street offer excellent musical opportunities. There are lots of bars, clubs and restaurants with good musical and nightlife opportunities. Look for more specific information in your hotel, locally.
For more information, about Sao Paulo:
Nightlife, entertainment, cuisine and shopping in Sao Paulo
Books about Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo and South Brazil Beaches
Recife Island, Boa Viagem and Olinda
Recife has its own regional music, deeply connected to the Carnival: the frevo. And also the forro, the main regional music of northeast.
To listen to the frevo or the forro, and eventually the samba and other popular Brazilian music, you should go to:
- Recife Island zone;
- Boa Viagem quarter;
- Olinda, the historical colonial town just outside Recife.
There are lots of bars, dancehalls and clubs, in any of these places, playing good music Just inform yourself in your hotel, locally.
For more information, about Recife and nearby places:
Brazil beaches: Recife, Olinda, Porto Galinhas and around
Brazil Beaches: Maceio, Joao Pessoa, Natal
Fortaleza (and its region, the Ceara) has its own regional music: the forro.
If you want to appreciate the forro and see how cearenses enjoy it, you should spend a night in a local dancehall. There are many in Fortaleza, especially around the Ponte dos Ingleses (Bridge of English) district. You'll find plenty of clubs, disco bars and live music shows at this zone.
The Forro is a music played with accordion, flute, guitars and percussion instruments, in a foot-stomping dance.