Portuguese Language Blog

What’s Pagode? Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in Entertainment

Following up on Rachel’s post on ExaltaSamba, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what pagode (pronounce pah-gaw-gee) actually IS.

There are a lot of different interpretations of the word pagode, and you will often hear a lot of Brazilians downplaying this sub-genre of samba.  I myself, will oftentimes hear, “Eu gosto de samba, só não gosto de pagode.” These people are usually referring to mainstream pagode groups that are also known as pagode romântico, and neopagode, popularized in the 1990’s.  These bands follow a series of clichés in pagode, from having numerous components, wearing certain types of clothing, and overall creating a “standard,” for the style of music. One of these bands is Revelação –

What is a good definition or description of pagode, though? It’s a sub-genre of samba, originated in Rio de Janeiro in the 1980’s, and it incorporates 3 additional instruments – the banjo, tan-tan, and the repique de mão.

The banjo is a little bigger and has more sound than the cavaquinho, allowing for it to stand out more in samba rodas amongst the percussion instruments.  The tan-tan is a small hand drum that imitates the sounds of the larger surdos, used in samba baterias, or percussion ensembles.  The repique de mão, is another percussion instrument, which imitates the sounds of drums. All of these were introduced by one of the components of the traditional pagode band, Grupo Fundo de Quintal.

(notice any differences from the first video?)

Lyrics-wise, pagode is also different in that the singers use a lot of slang, reflecting how people actually speak on a day-to-day basis.  Culturally, this popularized pagode in that it reached all different social classes, making it especially popular in the lower socio-economic classes and outskirts of bigger cities.

I’ll leave you with one pagode singer that epitomizes this last part of our “definition” of pagode, Zeca Pagodinho.


E aí, vamos para o pagode?

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  1. Kirsten:

    What about pagode baiano? I studied abroad in Salvador, and there the term pagode has a completely different meaning, referring to a style of music that I believe comes from axé. They refer to Rio-style pagode as samba. However, their kind of pagode still has the connotations of being sub-standard and associated with the lower class or o povo. Do you know what the connection is between these two different musical styles that share the same name?

  2. polyana:

    hey kirsten!

    thanks for the comment! i’ve never heard of it as “pagode baiano” (unless they’re referring to the artists themselves) and consider Axé different from “pagode em si…”

    there are pagode bands from bahia, like Harmonia do Samba, which do have a different rythm and incorporate different dances and instruments that the southeastern bands don’t have, but that regionality is the same with many other genres.

    Forró, for example has different “sounds” depending on where the artists are from, etc.

  3. Claudia:

    Good call Kris!! I was about to comment and say the same thing.

    Poly, for examples of “pagode baiano”, check out, for example, Parangolé, Fantasmão, Black Style…I think it’s wayyy different from what people in the southeast refer to as pagode.

  4. Kirsten:

    Well you’re right it wouldn’t be referred to as “pagode baiano” but just “pagode” there. I think it’s probably a regional style of music that is not widely known outside of Bahia. Some examples of artists include Parangolé, Psirico and Black Style, many of whom have songs that are very popular in Salvador during carnaval. I’m mostly curious as to why they also started calling that style of music, which is very different samba, “pagode.”