Singing Along

    Singing Along

    In Brazil, children’s songs were performed with no instruments,
    always in a circle where the kids would hold hands and follow special commands. They
    started as a cross between the ballroom dances and square dance!
    By Cristiana Hamann

    The world seems to have adopted Brazilian music. Some music stores throughout the world
    have even opened up a special section for Brazilian recordings, and we are no longer being
    classified as general Latin music. But where does that all begin? How do we get little
    Brazilians to grow up with that passion for their own music? Well, the magic happens
    through tradition, and it begins very early, as Brazilian lullabies and children’s songs
    (the nursery rhymes type) are passed on to the new generations by their parents.

    It all begins around the 1890’s at a very "European Brazil" enchanted with
    France. As a matter of fact, France seemed to dictate fashion trends, music, dances, and
    costumes in general. This was the time when music was danced in groups, according to very
    fancy choreography. The Minuette and other ballroom dances were most popular at the
    Brazilian saraus (music parties), and a proper education would certainly include those

    From the ballrooms, the songs moved to the household, some of them through the kitchen
    door, as the less fortunate Brazilians had no other access to the balls. Mothers and
    nannies eventually adapted those songs to be sung to the children with educational

    From then on, the music took a totally different course, and the songs got a new
    classification and began being called cantigas. Some lyrics carried a political
    context, some were merely entertainment more on the comic side, and, some were just
    nonsense. The children picked up fast the new fashion, and enjoyed very much the
    "playing songs". The cantigas were performed with no instruments,
    always in a circle where the kids would hold hands and follow the special commands on the
    lyrics. In practical terms, this was a cross between the ballroom dances and square dance!
    Some were to be danced performing choreography with a handkerchief (such as "Samba
    Lelê"), some were just repetition for rhymes and rhythm (such as "Mineira de

    There is nothing better to spread a new fad than good mouth-to-mouth communication.
    Soon the cantigas got their own local flare, a Brazilian twist, getting mixed up
    with afro rhythms and a lot of hand clapping, brought in by the slavery. A Brazilian
    tradition was born, and by the 1920’s the cantigas were true Brazilian music.

    Sadly enough, with the invasion of television, video clips, video games and massive
    media information, the cantigas were on the verge of extinction. Entertainment
    for kids did not include cantigas, and artists in general were not too concerned
    with tradition or folklore. Very little has ever been recorded. Fortunately, a new duo,
    João and Kiki, came to the rescue of culture, releasing a CD where they perform the cantigas
    in sophisticated arrangements of bossa nova, samba and even salsa. The CD is called Canta
    Pra Mim and more information on purchasing it can be found at their web page:
    or e-mail:

    Some of the most popular cantigas are the romantic ones such as "Nesta
    Rua" and "O Cravo e a Rosa."

    Nesta Rua

    Nesta rua, nesta rua tem um bosque
    Que se chama, que se chama solidão
    Dentro dele, dentro dele mora um anjo
    Que roubou, que roubou meu coração

    Se eu roubei, se eu roubei teu coração
    É porque tu roubastes o meu também
    Se eu roubei, se eu roubei teu coração
    É porque eu te quero tanto bem

    Se esta rua, se esta rua fosse minha
    Eu mandava, eu mandava ladrilhar
    com pedrinhas, com pedrinhas de brilhante
    Para o meu, para o meu amor passar.

    If Only This Street Were Mine

    On this street, on this street,
    there is a little forest
    And it’s called, it’s called loneliness
    In this forest, in this forest, there lives an angel
    Who has stolen, who has stolen my heart

    If I’ve stolen, if I’ve stolen your heart
    It’s because you’ve also stolen mine
    If I’ve stolen if I’ve stolen your heart
    It’s because I like you too much

    If this street, if this street were mine
    I would have it all paved
    And covered in tiny precious stones
    So my love, so my angel, could walk on it with me


    O Cravo E A Rosa

    O Cravo brigou com a Rosa
    Debaixo de uma sacada
    O Cravo saiu ferido
    E a Rosa despedaçada

    O Cravo ficou doente
    A Rosa foi visitar
    O Cravo deu um desmaio
    A Rosa pôs-se a chorar

    The Rose and the Carnation

    The Carnation had a fight with the
    This happened under the veranda
    The Carnation was wounded
    And the Rose was left in pieces

    The Carnation got ill
    The Rose paid him a visit
    The Carnation passed out
    And the Rose began to cry

    Note: This one between lines tells
    the story of a romantic political
    scandal of the period.



    Ai bota aqui, ai bota aqui
    Ai bota aqui o seu pezinho
    Seu pezinho bem juntinho
    Com o meu

    E depois não vai dizer
    Que você se arrependeu

    Little Foot

    Ah, put your little foot here
    Ah, put your little foot here
    Your little foot, your little foot
    Right next to mine

    So that later you will not say
    That you have regretted it

    Some of them are fun, playing songs where the children obey certain commands as they
    dance. Here are some of those:

    Fui ao Tororó

    Fui ao Tororó
    beber água não achei
    Achei linda morena
    que no Tororó deixei

    Aproveita minha gente
    que uma noite não é nada
    Quem não dormir agora
    dormirá de madrugada

    Oh Dona Maria, oh Mariazinha
    Entra nesta roda
    ou ficarás sozinha

    "Sozinha eu não fico, nem hei de ficar
    Porque eu tenho o Pedro
    para ser meu par."

    I Went to Tororó

    I went to Tororó
    To drink water, but I couldn’t find it
    Instead I found a beautiful brunette
    But I left her there

    Please everybody take advantage
    Because one night is not nearly enough
    The ones that will not sleep now
    Will have to do it at dawn

    Oh Miss Maria, oh Little Maria
    Come inside this circle if you don’t
    want to be left alone

    "Alone I won’t be, alone I won’t stay
    because I’ve got Pedro
    to pair up with me".

    Note: Tororó is actually the "Natural
    Springs of Itororó"


    Samba Lelê

    Samba Lelê está doente
    Está com a cabeça quebrada
    Samba Lelê precisava
    De umas dezoito lambadas

    Samba , samba,
    Samba ô Lelê
    Pisa na barra da saia ô Lalá

    Ó Morena bonita,
    Como é que se namora ?
    Põe o véu na cabeça
    Deixa a pontinha de fora
    Ó Morena bonita
    Como é que se casa
    Põe o véu na cabeça
    Depois dá o fora de casa
    Ó Morena bonita
    Como é que cozinha
    Bota a panela no fogo
    Vai conversar com a vizinha
    Ó Morena bonita
    Onde é que você mora
    Moro na Praia Formosa
    Digo adeus e vou embora

    Samba Lelê

    Samba Lelê is sick
    He has broken his head
    Samba Lelê really deserved
    Eighteen beatings
    Dance the samba; dance the samba,
    Samba oh Lelê
    Step on the rim of the skirt, oh Lalá

    Oh beautiful brunette
    How is it that one flirts?
    Put the handkerchief in your pocket
    Leave the top showing
    Oh beautiful Brunette
    How is it that one gets married?
    Cover the head with the veil
    And then just get away from home

    Oh beautiful Brunette
    How is it that one cooks?
    Put the pan on the fire
    Then go and talk to the neighbor

    How is it that one gets married?
    Tell me where do you live
    I live on Formosa Beach
    I say bye-bye and I go away

    Note: this one is supposed to be about
    a very fresh house slave, Samba Lelê,
    who fell in love with a young lady.
    The children dance this cantiga holding
    a handkerchief and mimicking the lyrics…
    Such as using it as a bandage around
    the head, putting the hankie in the pocket,
    using it as a veil, waving bye-bye,
    and so on.


    The cantigas also evolved to fit the local events and celebrations. This is
    the case of the ones that are sung during the St. John’s festivities, during the month of
    June. They are referred to as Cantigas Juninas (June Songs).

    Being a very catholic country, events and celebrations would take place around the
    "holly days" or the days of the saints. Many of those days happen to fall
    throughout the month of June, the month of the "happy saints" (St. John on
    06/24, St. Peter on 06/29 and St. Anthony on 06/13). Those cantigas were either
    for square dance or were simply a description of the festivities. Still today, during the
    month of June, Brazilians will dress up imitating the country folks (hillbilly style), to
    attend local open carnivals, or church fairs, where they dance around open fire and eat
    typical country food.

    It is important to say here that although this all began around the Church, the cantigas
    and festivities have no longer a religious connotation. They are merely folkloric. Here
    are two examples of Cantigas Juninas:

    Cai Cai Balão

    Cai cai balão,
    cai cai balão
    Na rua do sabão
    Não cai não, não cai não,
    não cai não
    Cai aqui na minha mão!

    Cai cai balão,
    cai cai balão
    Aqui na minha mão
    Não vou lá, não vou lá,
    não vou lá
    Tenho medo de apanhar!

    Fall, Fall Little Balloon

    Fall, fall little balloon
    Fall, fall little balloon
    Fall on Soap Street
    Don’t fall there, don’t fall there,
    and don’t fall there
    Fall right here on my hand

    Fall, fall little balloon
    Fall, fall little balloon
    Fall right here on my hand
    I don’t dare to go there,
    I don’t dare to go there
    I’m afraid I’ll get spanked

    Note: The little balloon referred
    to in this song, is a miniature hot air
    balloon, made of tissue paper,
    very popular at the June Festivities.


    Capelinha de Melão

    Capelinha de melão
    é de São João
    É de cravo
    é de rosa
    é de manjericão
    São João está dormindo
    Não acorda não!
    Acordai, acordai, acordai, João!

    Little Chapel of Melon

    Little chapel of melon
    belongs to St. John
    Belongs to the carnation,
    Belongs to the rose,
    Belongs to the basil
    St. John is sleeping
    He won’t wake up
    Wake up, wake up, wake up John

    Lullabies were meant to put children to sleep, but also to scare the little ones and
    thus reinforce the bond between mother and children, making sure they would stay in bed
    all night. Here is an example of the most popular one:

    Boi da Cara Preta

    Boi, boi, boi,
    Boi da cara preta
    Pega está criança que
    tem medo de careta
    Não, não, não
    Não pega ele não
    Ele é bonitinho,
    ele chora coitadinho

    Bull of the Black Face

    Bull, bull, bull
    Bull of the black face
    Get this child who
    is afraid of frowns
    No, no, no
    Please do not get him
    He is a beautiful child and
    he is crying, poor little one

    For more information about the cantigas, please visit, where
    you’ll be able to actually listen to the songs of the CD Canta Pra Mim. You will be
    surprised at the diversity and richness of rhythms.

    comments to

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    You May Also Like

    Nerino Furlan

    Brazilian Ambassadors to China Ride a 17-Seat Bike

    Twenty five Brazilians, most from the southern state of Santa Catarina are going to ...

    Grilled for 9 Hours in Congress, Brazil’s Finance Czar Denies Any Wrongdoing

    During nine hours of testimony before the Brazilian Senate’s Commission on Economic Affairs, Wednesday, ...

    Man tries to put some order on São Paulo, Brazil, chaotic traffic

    In Brazil, Rich or Poor, We’re All Prisoners

    An old adage stated, “Brazilian, profession hope.” Today, it would be more correct to ...

    Now We Know Why the PT Came to Power. To Preserve Bourgeois Rule.

    The deep crisis of the Workers Party (PT) government of Luis Inácio Lula da ...

    Brazilian bishop Luiz Flávio Cappio on the border of the São Francisco river

    Brazilian Bishop Again Opposes Lula Over River Transposition

    Brazilian Bishop Luiz Flávio Cappio sent a new letter to the Planalto Place in ...

    Brazilian sugarcane plant Pindorama

    Brazil Gets Record Sugarcane Crop, a 14% Growth

    Brazil's sugarcane crop grew 13.9% this year, with record production of 571.4 million tons. ...

    Brazzil? What Is It All About?

    Created in April of 1989, BRAZZIL has been a national respected link between Brazil ...

    Brazilian Chief Justice Cezar Peluso

    Brazil Supreme Delays Decision on Giving Watchdog Agency Punitive Power

    Brazil’s Supreme Court has delayed a decision on the most eagerly awaited case on ...

    One City at a Time. A Greenpeace Plan to Lower Brazil’s Illegal Deforestation.

    Greenpeace is getting municipal governments to sign agreements for the implantation of the Cities ...