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From the sugar cane fields and the various tasks of the time of colonization, among other manifestations, samba chula remains in the voice of several musicians and groups that operate in contemporary times, among them Mestre João do Boi, Roberto Mendes, Recôncavo Experimental and Filhos de Oyó, who, through various projects, they publicize and expand the audience for samba chula, the root from which all Brazilian samba originated, as the musician, composer and researcher Roberto Mendes says.

Ana, samba singer from the samba group Chula de João do Boi
July 22, 2019

“The magnetic force (of samba), which is compulsive, comes from the impulse (caused by the rhythmic void ) to complete the absence of time with the dynamics of movement in space, inciting the listener to fill the empty time with the body mark. Clapping, wiggling, swings, dancing ” (Muniz Sodré)

Mestre declaims a sung text, the players wait for the right moment to enter, the choir responds to the verse, the instruments sound the musicality that moves the body ...


Chula samba is a ritual with well-defined rules. An old tradition of Bahia's Recôncavo, where the Brazilian nation officially started.


On the one hand, Portuguese colonizers with their religion, musicality, rites and ideals. On the other side, Indians and black Africans with their religion, musicality, rites and slave acts to sustain the ambition of the colonization project driven by human greed.


For everyone, a new reality is taking place in Bahia.


The imprisoned body of Afro-descendants is reinvented in the corner of labor. The lyrics of the songs reflect the chores and experiences of the day-to-day, easing the pain caused by the distance from the life of yore, the imprisonment imposed and the hard work without rest.


This way of apprehending reality and transforming it into an aesthetic element of sociability and expression of their interiority, of their emotion, transcends the condition experienced by people of African descent and feeds the mind with the strength and hope to endure the daily violence to which they are subjected.


For João do Boi, Mestre de samba chula, singing helps time pass quickly during working hours: “One sings from here and the other responds from there”.

The basis is the “responsorial” model of collective singing, as Carlos Sandroni informs in the article “Samba de Roda, intangible heritage of humanity”.

The "Samba Chula nas Praças" project takes place on the second Sunday of each month in the squares of Camaçari with the support of the local city hall.

The next performance, on the second Sunday in August, will be at Praça dos 46, from 1 pm to 5 pm.


At the end follows the complete schedule.

Samba Chula Filhos de Oyó, presentation at Praça Maria Eulina


In the countryside, in the fields of sugar cane, cattle raising, domestic chores, the songs of lament were born.


Blacks from various regions of Africa created, in the daily life of the Recôncavo, forms of expression that became art and transgressed the inhuman condition of work, incorporating aspects of beauty in the daily work to find strength for resistance and survival.


From the area destined to work, the song went on to the slave quarters, where the batuque happened advancing until late at night, as is described by the travelers who traveled through Brazil in the 18th century.


In some moments, usually after the Catholic liturgy, the big house allowed the “folguedos” to take place in the presence of the planters.


In this environment of encounter between cultures, the mixture took place: the African drumming, the Arab tambourine, the Portuguese viola, the musical sensibility of the Sudanese and the singing of lament became samba chula, one of the symbols of the Recôncavo since the 19th century.

“In the hands of an African, even if an Arab, the Portuguese viola could never create another song, which was not genuinely African. This would apply both to sugar cane plantations in the Recôncavo Baiano, and to cotton plantations in the United States or anywhere else on the planet ” (Waldomiro Júnior / Roberto Mendes)

Samba chula is a song that speaks of everyday life, of women, of joy, of pain, of the spiritual, of reverence for ancestry and the strengthening of faith. It is the mixture of what we are today. It is our daily story narrated in a melodic way.


Chula samba is a ritual with a specific time for each act, until the moment comes when the “corrido” is played where everyone can samba.


Arranged in the shape of a circle are the musicians with their instruments: the viola, the guitar, the marking, the tambourines, the congas, the tablets ... Today, there may be variation from group to group. Oyó's children include the cavaquinho. There are others that include atabaque, maraca and grinding wheel.


Mestre Plínio says: “the guitar makes a catch for the viola, if the samba is a viola; or to the chip if the samba is made of chip ”.


The master shouts the foul. Right after the declamation, the instruments come in giving life to the samba. The foul always has someone who makes the second voice for the Master and another pair who responds to the song.


At the end of the singing, a woman, only one at a time, enters the circle to samba and reverence the players. At that moment there is no presence of singing, only the melody of the instruments that dictate the rhythm of the sambadeira steps is heard.


After the liturgical part, women are the center of attention, but they follow the command of the Master, the fella's handle. Upon leaving, she gives a belly button to the other who waits for a new foul to be sung. When she finishes she enters to samba alone to the sound of the instruments and so on until the samba runs, where everyone can enter the roda and dance together.


In Bahia, samba dancers are called “sambadeiras” and or “sambador” men, unlike other Brazilian states.

Samba Chula Filhos de Oyó, presentation at Praça Maria Eulina



João do Boi is the Master, Roberto Mendes is the translation, Recôncavo Experimental to innovation and Samba Chula Filhos de Oyó to continuity. They all share the same story in common: reverence for Mestre João do Boi.


João do Boi has the wisdom of samba chula. He learned from his elders and his mother. In his house the foul has a sacred place. “It's better than anything in life,” says João, who sings tirelessly at the request of those who arrive.


A resident of São Braz, in the district of Santo Amaro, João has a habit of waking up early to get the milk that changes the color of the coffee and strengthens his body. The deal with cattle is always present.


He says he sings foul since he was 12 years old. He learned from his elders and his mother who sang while washing clothes and tidying up the house. He says that most of the chula singers, his Masters, have already died and says: "but I'm still here".


Mestre João do Boi / Photo: Kithi

In his book Chula: behavior translated into a song, written together with journalist Waldomiro Júnior, Roberto Mendes tells the story of this genre and says: “imagine the black slave without classical knowledge of music sung in 6th grade. That does not exist. You need a knowledge of music. Sixth grade is Chopin's grade. And suddenly we find this singing in some chulas played on two chords. The chula is a classical song with perfect verses ”.

Mestre João do Boi tells how he learned the samba Chula


Roberto Mendes at the Santo Amaro fair. Photo: Edvaldo Passos

Proud of the ancestral knowledge present in the day-to-day lives of the people of his native land, Santo Amaro, Roberto Mendes is a musician, composer, researcher and grateful to be from Santa Marta, the place where he lives today.

An ardent supporter of the culture of the Recôncavo, Roberto Mendes is thrilled when other people are able to understand the importance of his city for the construction of the identity of the Brazilian culture. For him it is certain that samba was born in Bahia.


From the meeting with Nelson Sargento, President of Honor of Mangueira and author of more than 400 sambas, Roberto is happy with the speech of the composer who participated in the event Chulas na Feira in Santo Amaro.

Nelson Sargento's speech makes Roberto vibrate with joy at the Chulas na Feira event (video file Kithi / 2017

Roberto, when younger, left Santo Amaro to run the world. It was after the meeting with the professor, composer and conductor Lindemberg Cardoso that he began to see and hear the traditions of his place in another way, more attentively than usual, discovering the preciousness of the rhythms and songs that rocked his dreams of child and teenager. The music of his city took over his artistic desire and Roberto bathed in the water of the crystalline fountain to find his touch, his way, his sweetness to re-create creation.


Along with Jorge Portugal, a poet and lyricist from Santa Catarina who brings the perfect sound of the verses and the variants of the foul, the translation of the tradition happened.


In its own unique way, the samba chula of Recôncavo da Bahia is represented and disseminated worldwide by the singer who says:


"I play in a unique way. But it would be absurd to say that I created a way to play. It is a copy. I copied all these people", referring to Recôncavo's samba chula masters: João do Boi, Clarindo, Zé de Lelinha, Zezinho de Campinas, Alumínio, Tuni, Tavinho de Itapema and many others.

Translation brings two albums , the first the translation of the foul done by Roberto Mendes

The second is the traditional chula sung by the Recôncavo samba chula groups


The sound of the band Recôncavo Experimental has an accent composed of new textures and distortions without losing the main reference: the samba chula do Recôncavo.


With compositions built from the study of the techniques developed by Gustavo Caribé when playing samba chula on contrabass, they call the style "drum of string".


Inspired by great masters like Roberto Mendes, João do Boi, Alumínio, Bob Marley, Gilberto Gil, Riachão, Raimundo Sodré ... Recôncavo Experimental created a mixture of rhythms with different musical dialogues and connected with the ancestral essence, which also used the mix of different cadences and instruments to create samba chula.

Created by bassist Gustavo Caribé, added to the experience of João Mendes, the band is inserted in the new context of Brazilian popular music, built from research and influences of various musical styles, experimenting with sound variants without losing references to the styles that are part of the experience of its members.

The formation of the Recôncavo Experimental Band is composed by Gustavo Caribé, João Mendes, Binho Aranha, Fábio Cunha, Jaime Nascimento and Tiago Nunes. Leonardo Mendes participated in the show above.


Traditionally samba chula is a movement that is born in the family group and extends between the neighborhood. Usually everyone in the family participates in the tradition, each one occupying a place in the samba, be it Mestre, the player, the second voice, the sambador, the sambadeira ...


Thus, in this same traditional way, Samba Chula Filhos de Oyó was born. Plínio, Mestre violeiro, in 2013, he founded the group together with his family and started working with the intention of keeping the tradition alive. Their home was the place where everything happened.

Gradually and with faith in Oyá, the samba de roda, singing, tambourine, dance workshops were built ... performing shows and carrying out projects, among them "Samba Tabuleiro", already in the fourth edition; "Samba in Praça Maria Eulina", which has been taking place since April 2018 and the "Samba Chula nas Praças" project that runs the squares of Camaçari.


The family shares the samba with other tasks that generate income for daily support such as the sale of acarajé and the production of tambourines.

Pandeiros made by Mestre Plínio. Photo: Kithi

The Samba Chula nas Praças Project takes place every second Sunday of the month from 1 pm to 5 pm. Each month in a square. August at Praça dos 46, September at Praça Abrantes, October at Praça Limoeiro, November at Praça Ficam, December at Praça do Phoc and in January 2020 at Praça de Parafuso.

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