Samba de roda is a performance-poetic-musical tradition of African origins, prevalent in rural series, as well as religious and joyful festivals in Salvador, on the coast, and in the Bahian Recôncavo.
The main historical and geographical references of this genre are the cities of Santo Amaro and Cachoeira, which have two different styles, but which both use the term samba de roda or samba de viola to refer to a varied set of rhythms, melodies and vocals.
In the old sugar cane region, samba is samba chula (samba de viola, samba de parelha, samba amarrado), with a slow pace and choreography similar to that of samba miudinho (samba danced with small steps), which takes turns singing the chula and the relativo. This variety coexists with samba corrido, which is characterized by a call and response-style music and quick, percussion-based music.
Samba de roda has different musical characteristics in the different regions of Bahia, but there are also a number of similarities between the various versions. These diverse styles are expressed through the use of different instruments, rhythms, melodies, timbres, repertoires and performance-musical expressions, as well as the different functions and situations in which they take place.
Samba de roda can occur in the simplest of forms (singing and clapping), or the most elaborate, such as samba chula and samba de viola, which include string instruments, percussion, and a number of different vocal styles.
The most commonly used instruments, in addition to the hands and the voice, are pandeiros, which, with their special sound, are quite characteristic of the steady and ringing beat of the Recôncavo samba. The percussion element is usually complemented by a prato-e-faca (plate-and-knife) and by an instrument that marks the beat, such as an atabaque, rebolo or timbau.
In organized groups, there are an increased number of string instruments, such as the guitar, the cavaquinho, and the characteristic viola machete, which has seen a boost in popularity in recent years.
The roda de samba is an open space for creativity. There, a large number of sonorous elements can come together, such as the ganzá, thechocalho, the triangulo, the agogô, the reco-reco, the cuíca, the caixinha de fósforo (matchbox), panelas (pots), baldes (buckets), garrafas (bottles) and anything else that reverberates, resonates or rattles.
In 2005, samba de roda was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible world heritage.