Samba and Carnival - a history parallel to the blues
African slaves were not only imported to the United States, but also to many other parts of the new world, especially Brazil and the Caribbean.
These slaves an their descendants adopted and adapted to the local music in every one of these areas, and consequently changed the music profoundly as well as creating new hybrids.
The development of mento, ska and reggae in Jamaica, calypso in Trinidad and the Samba in Brazil closely parallels the history of blues and jazz in the United States.
Evidently the Samba tradition in Brazil originates from Africa. Samba is tied together with the Carnival tradition which also has strong ties to African traditions, since Africans has an ancient tradition of parading and moving in circles through villages wearing masks and costumes. It was believed to heal problems, chill out angry relatives who died and to bring good fortune. They also put natural objects together such as fabrics, shells, beads, grasses and bones to create masks and costumes. Each object and combination of objects were to represent a certain idea or spiritual force. Carnival traditions has clearly borrowed from these ancient African traditions.
Feathers was often used on masks and headdresses and would symbolize humans ability to rise above illness, pains, heartbreaks and problems or to pas to other worlds for rebirth and spiritually growth. Feathers are largely used in many forms in creating Carnival costumes.
Masks have to possibilities in Africa, to conceal the wearer or to reveal another character than the wearer. Masks are important in the crossover between sacred and secular life and usually has strict rules about who can wear them. Masks are also an important feature in the Carnival costume.
But the Carnival tradition also has European elements dating back to the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy, who started the tradition of wild costume festivals before the first day of Lent. The Festival was called "Carnivale" which means "to put away the meet" since Catholics are not supposed to est meat during Lent. The carnival in Italy became quite famous and spread to France, Spain and Catholic countries in Europe.
In many parts of the world where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and began trading slaves the European Carnival traditions and the ancient African traditions began to interact giving root to the Carnival as we know it today. Brazil colonized by the Portuguese is perhaps most famous for its carnival, as the Mardi Gras is it in Louisiana where African-Americans mixed with French settlers and Native Americans.
Festivals bring people together and in African societies they play an important part as it celebrate something important in the life of the community. During carnival time normal life is suspended and the daily worries are forgotten for as long as the festival lasts.
Almost every Capitol in the world has an annual Carnival, and Copenhagen in Denmark is no exception. You will find the annual Carnival in Copenhagen in the end of May.
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