Master Research on Samba de Roda from Recôncavo da Bahia, Brazil

The master thesis in German “General and rhythmic principles of Samba de Roda from Recôncavo Baiano” investigated one of the oldest Afro-Brazilian traditions, the samba de roda (circle samba) from Recôncavo da Bahia, which was proclaimed “Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2005. It based on two ethnographic fieldwork trips in 2010 and on systematic musical analysis. While dedicating a subchapter for dance analysis, it focuses on musical and especially rhythmic analysis of audio-visual recordings from different sources and epochs. Therefore, it brings up theories and analytical methods for the study of African music still scantly disseminated within Afro-Brazilian music research. These enable a broader understanding of samba de roda’s typical features and different styles, of some evident changes within the nomination’s context and of its similarities to samba from Rio de Janeiro from the beginning of the 20th century, of which origins musicians attribute to Bahia.

Arising at an important moment in Brazil, in which marginalized cultures begin to receive political and public appreciation, this study contributes to the academic recognition of a rich music and dance practice that lies in the heart of Bahians and is the heart of many Afro-Brazilian traditions.

Keywords: Afro-Brazilian music, samba de roda, Intangible Cultural Heritage, dance, rhythm analysis.

Department: Transcultural Music Studies Chair, University of Music Franz Liszt  Weimar & Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Supervisors: Tiago de Oliveira Pinto and Gerhard Kubik

Submission: August 2011

Result: Very good with distinction


  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2012. „Reflexos da nomeação do samba de roda como Obra-Prima da Humanidade pela UNESCO sobre a cultura do Recôncavo Baiano”, in: Musics and knowledge in Transit / Músicas e saberes em trânsito / Músicas y saberes en tránsito, ed. by Susana Moreno Fernández, Pedro Roxo e Iván Iglesias. Lisboa: Colibri. n.n.
  • GRAEFF, Nina; PINTO, Tiago de Oliveira. 2012. „Música entre materialidade e imaterialidade: os tons-de-machete do Recôncavo Baiano / Music between Tangibility and Intangibility: the tons-de-machete from Recôncavo Bahiano”, in:Revista MOUSEION11/1 (Jan-Apr. 2012). Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2013. „Samba de Roda: comemorando identidades afro-brasileiras”, in: Artelogie 4, (Jan. 2013). Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2013. “Experiencing Music and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Some Thoughts on Safeguarding Music’s Intangible Dimension”, In: El oído pensante 2 (Aug. 2013). Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2014. “Fundamentos rítmicos africanos para a pesquisa da música afro-brasileira: o exemplo do Samba de Roda”. Música e Cultura 9 (2014). Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2015. „Afro-brasilianische Götter in Deutschland? Immaterielles Kulturerbe weitergeben“, Deutsche UNESCO Kommission. Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2015. Os ritmos da roda. Tradição e transformação no samba de roda. Salvador: EDUFBA. Link
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2016. “Samba de Roda as Heritage: From samba in the living room to ‘Masterpiece of Humanity”, in: Die Tonkunst 10/4 (Oct. 2016).
  • GRAEFF, Nina. 2018. „Rhythmische Strukturen des Samba de Roda aus dem Recôncavo Baiano, Brasilien“, in: Berichte aus dem ICTM-Nationalkomitee Deutschland2011 vol. XX-XXI, edited by Dorit Klebe and Klaus Näumann. Aachen: Shaker Verlag. 91–104.
  • CSERMAK, Caio; GRAEFF, Nina. 2018.“O mesmo samba”: a profissionalização dos sambas de Cachoeira e sua reificação em grupos de samba de roda”, In:   Revista Pontos de Interrogação8/2. 27–50. Link

Book “Os Ritmos da Roda”

The master thesis was translated and extended into the book “Os Ritmos da Roda – Tradição e Transformação no Samba de Roda” (the rhythms of the circle – tradicion and transformation of samba de roda), being published in 2015 by EDUFBA, the publisher of the Federal University of Bahia.

Publisher: EDUFBA

City of Publication: Salvador

Year of Publication: 2015.

Format: paperback, 164 pages with transcriptions

Language: Portuguese

ISBN: 978-85-232-1437-1

Price: R$ 28,00

Publisher site: