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Frevo, frenetic carnival dance music of northeastern Brazil. The frevo first appeared around the turn of the twentieth century among newly formed carnival clubs of black and mestizo urban workers in Recife, Pernambuco. The acrobatic dance steps done to the frevo developed largely from the Capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian athletic dance), and the music itself grew out of the marches and polkas of military-style marching bands that accompanied Carnival parades. The frevo quickly became a mainstay of the Recife carnival, and several distinct substyles developed, including the frevo de rua, instrumental street music played by marching bands; frevo de bloco, played by small string and percussion ensembles with a female chorus; and frevo canção, middle-class sentimental songs involving a lead singer, a chorus, and a brass, woodwind, and percussion band. City-sponsored competitions take place each year in Recife, and numerous recordings have been released. Beginning in the 1950s, frevo was incorporated into the carnival of Salvador, Bahia, by trios elétricos (electric trios) using electric guitars and drums. This electric frevo baiano (Bahian frevo) entered mainstream Brazilian popular music in the 1970s and 1980s via such pop star luminaries as Caetano Veloso and Moraes Moreira. Alceu Valença and other northeastern popular musicians have added Recife-style frevos to their repertoires.

See alsoCarnival; Music: Popular Music and Dance.


Valdemar De Oliveira, Frevo, capoeira e passo (1971); Fred De Góes, O país do carnaval elétrico (1982).

Additional Bibliography

Araújo, Rita de Cássia Barbosa de. Festas: máscaras do tempo: Entrudo, mascarada e frevo no carnaval do Recife. Recife, PE: Fundacão de Cultura Cidade do Recife, 1996.

Carvalho, Nelly, et al. Dicionário do frevo. Recife, PE: Editora Universitária, UFPE, 2000.

Teles, José. Do frevo ao manguebeat. São Paulo, SP, Brasil: Editora 34, 2000.

                                                Larry N. Crook