Brazil is a Catholic country, important recurring musical events are associated with the feasts of the liturgical year and the feasts of the saints. So Midsummer and Christmas are of great importance in the annual cycle. The Folias de Reis and Pastorils, the celebrations from December 24th to January 6th, deal with the birth of Christ and the three kings. The Passion Play takes place during Holy Week (e.g. in Nova Jerusalem), and the burning of Judas is also practiced. Pilgrimages (e.g. to fulfill a vow) take place all year round. Juazeiro do Norte (do Padre Cicero) is one of the strongholds of popular Catholicism. The Danca de Sao Goncalo is one of the most popular dances. It goes back to Saint Goncalo of Amarante, a saint venerated in Portugal in the 13th century. The Midsummer festival at the summer solstice is the biggest event of the year in large parts of the north and north-east (in popularity, at best, surpassed by the carnival). It will be on the eve of June 24th with Quadrilles, Casamento Matuto, Fireworks, Forró, Danca Portuguesa and others. celebrated. In the state of Maranhao, the Midsummer Festival is the beginning of the Bumba-meu-Boi cycle, a game of music, dance and dramaturgy with a dancing ox at the center. This includes the legend of Pai Francisco and Mae Catirina, which – framed by songs – is staged at every performance. Depending on the instruments, there are 3–5 styles. The most important are the Boi de Zabumba (large double-headed drum), Boi de Matraca (counter strikes) and Boi de Orquestra (brass).
The cantoria, the musical performance of prefabricated or improvised verses, enjoys the highest reputation in northeastern Brazil. The lyrics are sold as literatura de Cordel (“hung on strings”) in the markets or presented impromptu in front of an audience, the latter also in a poetic contest known as Desafio, in which two poet-singers compete with each other and one against the other possibly defeated. Depending on their ability and skill, they choose different poetic forms; the sextilha, a 6-line line, is very common. From the Aboio, which was originally the work song and call of the cattle herders and served for communication, the Aboio in verse has developed over the past decades, a mixture of call song and verse improvisation. The cantadores like to use the Northestinian guitar or the Rabeca for accompaniment. The embolada is only accompanied by a bell ring or a frame drum.
According to usaers, the instrumental ensembles of the northeast are called Banda Cabacal or Banda de Pifanos and consist of two flutes made of bamboo cane and drums, as well as a pair of cymbals. They accompany all religious and secular festivals in the small towns and villages of the north-east Brazilian hinterland. Marches, dobrados, waltzes, choros, benditos, but also samba and forró are played. Many religious music traditions such as Candomble, Umbanda, Tambor de Mina go back to West African beliefs. A pantheon of deities is worshiped by the followers, and music plays a central role in initiation rites and trance. Many songs are made in Yoruba sung, the music contains structural features of African music such as the time-line formula and responsorial performance practice. In the Capoeira fight dance in Salvador (Bahia) the berimbau musical bow plays a central role. Both the construction of the bow and the special playing practice and posture follow African models.
Between 1875 and 1900 the choro was created in Rio de Janeiro. Pixinguinha (Alfredo da Rocha Viana; * 1860, † 1917) was one of the greatest musicians and composers of the golden age of choro. In the 1920s he made samba famous with his group Os 8 Batutas; Every year at the carnival, the opulently costumed dancers and drummers of the samba schools perform in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. With »Desafinado« by A. C. Jobim and Vinícius de Morais (* 1913, † 1980), played and sung by the Bahian guitarist J. Gilberto , the bossa nova became World famous overnight. On the one hand, it had a major influence on the MPB, on the other hand, it also had lasting significance for North American jazz. The guitarist and singer M. Nascimento became the central figure of this period .
After the military came to power in 1964, the MPB also changed. In addition to the traditional topics, there were also claused political ones, the music opened up to North American and European rock music, recognizable not least by the use of electrical and electronic instruments. This direction, known mainly from Bahia, called Tropicália, included, among others. G. Gil and Caetano Veloso (* 1942). Since the mid-1980s, the MPB has played an important role in so-called world music and has repeatedly led to engagements by Brazilian musicians through well-known rock musicians such as D. Byrne from Talking Heads and P. Simon.
Electronic music has been gaining in importance for a number of years, and here, too, tradition and modernity, i.e. Afro-Brazilian music with new styles, are combined.