Explore the Rhythms of Brazil: A Guide to Types of Brazilian Music

Types of Brazilian Music

Brazil is renowned for its vibrant and diverse music scene, which encompasses a wide range of genres and styles. The country’s rich cultural heritage has given rise to various forms of music that reflect its multicultural roots. Let’s explore some of the most notable types of Brazilian music.

1. Samba

Samba is one of the most iconic and beloved genres of Brazilian music. It originated in the early 20th century and is deeply rooted in Afro-Brazilian culture. Samba is characterized by its energetic rhythm, syncopated beats, and infectious melodies. It is often associated with vibrant carnival celebrations and is the heartbeat of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Carnival.

2. Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova emerged in the late 1950s and gained international recognition for its smooth and laid-back style. It is a fusion of samba rhythms with elements of jazz, influenced by the likes of João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Bossa Nova is characterized by its melodic harmonies, intricate guitar playing, and intimate vocals. This genre had a significant impact on the global music scene and remains a hallmark of Brazilian music.

3. Forró

Forró is a genre originating from the Northeastern region of Brazil. It is characterized by its lively and rhythmic sound, driven by the accordion, triangle, and zabumba (a type of drum). Forró encompasses various subgenres, including traditional forró pé de serra, forró eletrônico (incorporating electronic elements), and forró universitário (popular among college students). It is often associated with festive gatherings and traditional dance parties.

4. MPB (Música Popular Brasileira)

Música Popular Brasileira, commonly known as MPB, refers to the broad category of popular Brazilian music that encompasses different styles and influences. MPB emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a fusion of various genres, including bossa nova, samba, rock, folk, and jazz. It is characterized by its lyrical depth, poetic storytelling, and social commentary. Prominent artists in the MPB genre include Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Elis Regina.

5. Frevo

Frevo originated in the city of Recife in northeastern Brazil and is closely associated with the Carnival celebrations in the region. It is characterized by its fast tempo, lively brass instruments, and intricate dance movements. Frevo is often performed by orchestras or bands known as frevo ensembles, and its energetic rhythm encourages people to dance along.

6. Axé

Axé is a popular genre originating from Bahia, characterized by its infectious rhythms and energetic performances. It draws influences from various genres, including samba-reggae, African music, and Caribbean rhythms. Axé music often incorporates call-and-response vocals, vibrant percussion, and catchy melodies. It gained significant popularity in the 1990s and is associated with large-scale street parties and festivals.

7. Maracatu

Maracatu is a traditional music and dance form rooted in Afro-Brazilian culture. It originated in the state of Pernambuco and is deeply connected to the region’s history and religious traditions. Maracatu is characterized by its powerful drumming, vibrant costumes, and rhythmic movements. It is often performed during Carnival and other cultural celebrations.

8. Choro

Choro is an instrumental genre that emerged in the 19th century, known for its virtuosic instrumental performances. It blends elements of European classical music with African and indigenous influences. Choro typically features guitars, cavaquinho (a small string instrument), flute, and percussion. It is considered the precursor to Brazilian jazz and has influenced many Brazilian musicians across different genres.


The music of Brazil is incredibly diverse and reflects the country’s multicultural heritage. From the lively beats of samba and the smooth melodies of bossa nova to the energetic rhythms of forró and the cultural expressions of maracatu, Brazilian music offers a rich tapestry of sounds and styles. These genres, among many others, contribute to the vibrant and dynamic music scene that continues to captivate audiences both within Brazil and around the world.