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Brazil (Brasil), Portuguese (Português), Samba

“Canta, Canta, Minha Gente” (Martinho da Vila)

“Canta, canta minha gente” (Live 5/30/2009)

“Canta, Canta, Minha Gente”
Martinho da Vila
Canta, Canta, Minha Gente (1974)

Canta, canta minha gente, deixa a tristeza pra lá
Canta forte, canta alto, que a vida vai melhorar

Cantem o samba de roda, o samba-canção e o samba rasgado
Cantem o samba de breque, o samba moderno e o samba quadrado
Cantem ciranda e frevo, o coco, maxixe, baião e xaxado
Mas não cantem essa moça bonita
porque ela está com o marido do lado

Quem canta seus males espanta
lá em cima do morro ou sambando no asfalto
Eu canto o samba-enredo
um sambinha lento ou um partido alto
Há muito tempo não ouço o tal do samba sincopado
Só não dá pra cantar mesmo é vendo o sol nascer quadrado

 “Sing, sing, my people” (English Translation, ORS 2010)

Sing, sing, my people, let go of the sadness
Sing strong, sing loud, cause life is going to get better

Sing the samba de roda, the canção and the rasgado
Sing the samba breque, the moderno and the quadrado
Sing the Ciranda and the Frevo, 
the Coco, Maxixe, Baião and Xaxado
But don’t ”sing” that beautiful girl
because she’s with her husband at her side

Whoever sings their troubles is amazed,
there on top of the hill or dancing samba on the streets
I sing the samba-enredo, a slow little samba or a partido alto
It has been a long time since I have heard the “sycopated samba” 
But you can’t sing that one,
it is seeing the squared sun rise                               


This song refers to various types of Brazilian dances, mostly related to the Samba, for example: Samba de roda (old samba circle), Samba-canção (slow samba-song), Samba rasgado (“ripped” samba), Samba de breque (samba with “breaks” or intermissions), samba moderno (modern samba), samba quadrado (square samba), Ciranda, Frevo, Coco, Maxixe (so-called Brazilian Tango), Baião, Xaxado, samba-enredo (for the samba schools), and partido-alto (samba sung in parts). 

According to the lyrics, Martinho da Vila is singing this song as a a “samba-enredo, a slow little samba, or a partido-alto”. 


1.  O morro – hill, mount, from L. murrum (round object, snout), as in the morros of Rio de Janeiro often associated with as favelas (slums, shanty-towns whose etymology is said to the historic place Morro da Favela in Canudos, Bahia)

2.  espanatar  -to surprise, amaze, bewilder; *espantar in Spanish means to startle, frighten, astound; this verb may be related to the French épouvanter and Italian spaventare (to terrify, scare), from the PIE root pau (fear). 


1.  Deixar algo para/pra lá
  Literally means “to leave something over there”, but it is used when you want to tell someone to get over something, let it go, give it up, etc.

2.  Que/Porque.  
Both of these words can mean “because”.  In a way “que” is can be a shortened verion of “porque” just like “cause” can be to “because”.  This also happens in Spanish.  For example:  

       Canta alto porque/que a vida vai melhorar  (Sing loud because/cause life is going to get better)

3.  Informal Affirmative Commands
The informal 2nd person (“you”) singular command just uses the 3rd person singular present indicative form.  The plural command (“you all”) uses a present subjunctive conjugation of the indicative 3rd person.  Using the example of cantar (to sing):

       You sing well.  Você canta bem (tu cantas bem)
       You all sing terribly.  Vocês cantan terrivelmente mal.
       They sing much better.  Eles/elas cantan muito melhor.
       (You) Please sing this.  Canta isto, por favor. 
       (You all) Please sing that.  Cantem isso/aquilo, por favor.

4.  Future Subjunctive
This is a unique tense which is used in Portuguese to talk about events that may happen in the future.   Interestingly, it seems Martinho da Vila does not use the future subjunctive in the example below, instead using the simple present. 

       Quem canta seus males, espanta  (Whoever/everyone who sings his troubles gets surprised )

The future subjunctive would be: “Quem cantar seus males, espanta” . 

For more details and examples about this tense, check out the Tá Falado lesson on Future Subjunctive, with audio explanations, native speaker dialogues, a nice PDF, and more.   

5.  “Há muito tempo não ouço o tal do samba sincopado”
This line literally means “since a long time ago I do not hear a such sycopated samba”, but in real English this would “It has been a long time since I have heard a quote-unquote samba sincopado” or “I have not heard a quote-unquote samba sincopado in a long time”. 

The sequence of tense is unusual for English speakers because it combines a past phrase (Há muito tempo, a long time ago) and a present tense verb (não ouço, I do not hear).  However, this structure is common in other languages, and even in English we may be able to get away with something like “It’s been a while since I talk to you” rather than the more common and more natural sounding “It’s been a while since I’ve talked to you”. 

The other point is adjective phrase “o/um tal de”, which does not have a direct English translation.  Think of it’s usage in this situation:  You get a phone call from an unknown person who wishes to speak to your boss.  You report to your boss, “You have a call from a ‘Martinho da Vila’” or “You have a call from a certain (man called) ‘Martinho’”. 

6.  “Não dá pra”
Dar para  literally means “to give for/to” is a common phrase to say if something is possible or not, and the dar (to give) is always conjugated in the 3rd person.  In the future tense phrase “não dá pra cantar”, this means that “it is impossible to sing”, or “I/you can’t sing”.  Literally meaning “it doesn’t give to sing”, perhaps the logic, in this case, is that singing doesn’t give results.  This phrase also exists in Spanish, (no) dar para V/N.

7.  “Ver o sol nascer quadrado”
This is a Portuguese idiom which apparently means “ir preso” or “to go to jail”.  It literally means “to see the sun rising squared”, referring to “squared” view of the rising sun through one’s prison bars.  I wonder if Martinho is saying that that certain syncopated samba is so hot it just might get you thrown in jail…

Guitar Chords: A A Bm E7


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