Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

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Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby bongosnotbombs » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:21 pm

I've been getting into playing bass drum New Orleans Second line style. I can't help but notice the similarities between the traditions of a Brazilian samba parade, a comparsa procession and a New Orleans marching band parade.

First musically there are similarities, particularly with the bass parts and the accents on the off beat syncopation. Also the physical manifestation of the 3 processions involving flamboyant costumes and dancing. There are religious similarities too, mainly between the NO and Cuba, I'm not sure about samba/batucada, always seemed secular to me, with candomble being the religious music in Brazil, though I would not be surprised if there was a candomble/samba connection I just haven't learned about.

It's seems apparent to me that the 3 are adaptations of a similar African practice. Obviously there are differences as well, which are no doubt due to the different cultural practices of each geographic location - Cuba, Brazil and New Orleans. I say New Orleans vs. US as New Orleans was not within the Union when much of it's unique culture developed, though eventually the US would impact the culture New Orleans. There is obviously a French/Haitian connection between Cuba and NO, the strong culture and unique form of comparsa in Santiago Cuba and the second line in NO seems to be evident of that, however I've never heard of a French/Haitian influence in Brazil.

I admit, I haven't done much research on the subject at the moment, but it is a subject I am getting more interested in. Can anyone here that knows more about this subjects shed some enlightenment?
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Re: Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby jorge » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:08 pm

New Orleans is very interesting musically and a lot is known about its musical influences. Have you read Ned Sublette's book "The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square"? I have only looked at bits and pieces of it, but Ned goes into great detail discussing the musical roots of New Orleans. He has also written another book on New Orleans, "The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans", and an excellent book on Cuban music "Cuba and its Music: From the first drums to the mambo". Although he is not African American or a musical originator in the New Orleans jazz and funk scene, he has studied and produces AfroCuban music, and is the best authority I know of on the topic of the Afro Caribbean roots of music in New Orleans.

Can you post any links to recorded music that illustrates what you are talking about?
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Re: Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby bongosnotbombs » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:34 pm

Hi Jorge,
Yes I've read parts of Ned's Cuba book and have the New Orleans book on my list. Just yesterday I got a book called jazz Religion the Second Line and Black New Orleans, and I've managed to find a great chapter on comparsa in google books. I'm just starting to jump into the subject.
Musically I've been comparing the rhythms from music books I bought recently. Basic patterns for New Orleans bass are tresillo and clave with some embellishments, the cymbal plays the offbeat. The bass reminds me of the bombo in comparsa with the cymbal offbeats reminding me of the quinto offbeat accents in comparsa.
As far as samba, there is another NO bass part which plays on the beat with a pick up of a 1/16th note just before each beat, this reminds me of the basic surdo parts, you know babing babong babing babong. It's feels like how you would have to adapt the surdo if you only had one bass drum, boom, baboom baboom, baboom BA boom.
Anyways, not completely academic I know, I'll try and post some scans later.
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Re: Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby niallgregory » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:11 am

Although Carnival in Rio which is the home of the Escola de Sambas dosent have any religious overtones lots of the samba schools if not all have a deep rooting in Candomble and Umbanda . The roots of the samba come from Savador de Bahia which is the home of Afro Brazilian religions Candomble and Umbanda . Lots of the Percussionists in the Samba schools are members of the religions and occasionally a song is written with mention of the Orixas but carnival in Rio is so commercial and worth so much money that its more akin to premier league football than anything else :) Also there is a Vodoo style of music in Maranao , i have a great album ( cant remember the name but will look it up ) of the music . It used lots of shekere and sings songs for the orishas and vodu deities . Some candomble houses from the jeje nation also worship these gods . Link http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vodu
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Re: Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby bongosnotbombs » Mon Oct 15, 2012 5:41 pm

Niall,
You bring up a some good points, it actually might benefit me more to look at the Maracatu traditions of the Bahia and the North versus batucada and the commercialized samba.
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Re: Samba, Comparsa and the Second Line

Postby niallgregory » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:33 pm

bongosnotbombs wrote:Niall,
You bring up a some good points, it actually might benefit me more to look at the Maracatu traditions of the Bahia and the North versus batucada and the commercialized samba.



The maracatu nations all have deep rooted religious elements .Its called xango in pernambuco and in some houses the use of drums very similar to Bata have been reported . I have tried for years to get info on the drums but there is very little known about in the wider community outside the houses themselves .
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