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Samuel Johnson

Modern Brazilian History and Culture


Dr. Kehren
April 8, 2014

Making Samba

Articulating an entire countries development from colonialism to present through one


novel or book is a very difficult task in itself. Marc Hertzman demonstrates that it is in fact
possible with his work, Making Samba, which is a well-developed written portrayal of Brazils
vast political history and sharp social and cultural contrasts. Relating and contributing such a
complex and culturally diverse nation through a solitary genre of Music is what makes
Hertzmans writing unique and compelling. The book falls under a hybrid combination of
research and free speech. After reading Making Samba it is obvious that this specific art form
both accurately depicts Brazils diversely prosperous upbringing as well as its inherently
oppressive element which has plagued the country in all shapes and forms. The premise of
Hertzmans arguments either stem from or support these notions which explain many accurate as
well as non-accurate assumptions of Brazil through Samba music.
While the makeup up of the Brazilian population has fluctuated a great deal since its
colonization, there are certain aspects of cultural Brazil which have stayed the norm. These are
the aspects which Hertzman focuses most heavily on throughout the nine separate chapters. The

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introduction of the word Samba does not come into play until the second chapter of the book
where the author first introduces the term through Jose Antonio Piranhnas slight police
encounter. These are the types of real life scenarios which Hertzman uses to his advantage.
Instead of simply informing the reader with facts regarding the specific genre of music, he is
able to accurately describe the underlying thoughts and reaction to the initial introduction of the
art form. This is a much more effective way of introducing all of the authors main points and
concepts. This type of personable language and first hand story telling gives the author a level of
credibility which sets up well for a book which also uses formatting to assist in providing a more
concise message. While this aspect of the novel may be overlooked, I cannot say that Hertzmans
thesis could be delivered upon if the organization of his writing was questionably formatted.
This first example I have brought forward, speaks volumes to the cultural attitude the
entire country of Brazil had endured as Samba first stepped foot into the country. While art is
looked at as such a free form of creativity by most, this was simply not the case in Brazil. The
social norm in Brazil was highly scrutinized, and this included everything from sport, to dance,
to the music industry. No matter who you talked to at the time, each individual was very
concerned with the image Brazil was taking on whether it be intentionally or not. The simple
story which depicts a man, Jose Antonio Piranha, being unfairly cited for playing a new form of
music (Samba) during Christmas time is the underlying issue which Brazil has struggled with for
its entire existence. A monster of a society was built to the point where even the most popular

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form of expression were frowned upon for the time being at least. In this chapter alone,
Hertzman describes how systematic the entire country was in its denial and attack of what was to
be the most popular form of music seen in Brazil during the middle to late 1900s. If it were not
for the authors account of specific scenarios, he would not be half as successful in his portrayal
of this message early on in the book. These specific examples also grant Hertzman wiggle room
which allows him to make bigger, vast claims which then become the more impactful claims he
makes in the book. With that being said, Hertzman does is not able to make these sort of largescale assumptions and connections all on the account of just himself. This brings forth the
analytical portion of the book.
In order to be believable, you must have more than one perspective running into one
book. Rather, multiple outside sources always accumulate to produce a much more accurate
depiction of history. Of his primary sources, Marc Hertzmans implantation of hand written
letters and notes are used to supplement his thoughts. Again, this is a strategy he uses which puts
the reader in the shoes of a Brazilian. Samba music gave Brazil its own specific cultural image
but reliving the history of how the genre was treated while being introduced sheds a completely
different light on the overall meaning of Samba. This can only be accomplished through a
primary account of how people truly felt at the time. In many other situations, primary sources
such as statistical graphs or charts are also used by Hertzman. This is also proof that the effect
Samba music had on the country can be statistically linked to so many other significant financial
trends. Chapter seven focuses on Authors Rights Paybacks as a percentage of total payments. In

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short, are song writers receiving enough or sufficient levels of financial compensation in
comparison to their ownership of music and the work they put in. With the help of extremely
detailed excel based data, the Author is able to make claims against the fairness of the SBAT.
This is all the more reason the author has to ensure any reader that such a free form of expression
was being exploited by all of the wrong people at times.
It can be very difficult to portray such a large amount of information on just one subject
in a form that can be easily followed and conceptualized. This is where Making Samba separates
itself as an informational thesis with highly correlated statistical evidence as oppose to a simple
history book. It is written in a sequence of claims which are then sectioned into chapters which
each tackle an element of the entire Samba industry. While each chapter has an overall subject
manner and theme, Hertzman still connects each idea to the overall thesis which proves Samba is
a microcosm of Brazilian culture for the good reasons as well at the corrupt ones.
The culmination of Marc Hertzmans writing and research methods give Making Samba a
very compelling and comprehensive message. The analytical side of the book is enhanced by
visual feel offered up and consequently vice versa as well. Samba music explains the origins of
true Brazilianism like nothing else has, and Hertzman exemplifies this even more so through the
use of quality sources and effective formatting.