Paulinho da Viola approached the culture of the carioca samba in his youth, after discovering the choro. His visits to his aunt's house in Vila Valqueire, in the outskirts of the city, gave him the opportunity to party in the street carnival parades, to know Portela and to get in close contact with the most authentic form of manifestation of this style.
According to Sérgio Cabral in the book “As escolas de samba do Rio de Janeiro” (The Samba schools of Rio de Janeiro), the term “samba” was registered for the first time in a publication of November 12, 1842, in the magazine from Pernambuco called "Carapuceiro", exactly one century before the birth of the composer who made samba his main expression form. Paulinho da Viola was born in the same day, in 1942.
The samba appeared in Brazil from the union of the music brought by African slaves with the music brought by the European immigrants. Several cultural groups in several Brazilian areas had already claimed to be the creators of samba, but in each place of the country that manifestation happened in a different way, though in Bahia and Rio de Janeiro we find the two most well-known forms.
The term samba has been applied in a very broad way since the 19th century. It defines several syncopated styles. The style we refer to here is more precisely the carioca samba, that appeared on the hills of Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century.
It is not easy to define the samba, but it is worthwhile getting to know the particular characteristics of this style. The main rhythmic element of this music is the syncope. This rhythmic division, common to the African rhythms, found in Brazil a fertile field for its use. No other culture absorbed the syncope as the Brazilian did. If the jazz discovered and incorporated the swing, the samba was already born syncopated.
It is not possible to describe exactly how the culture of the carioca samba was formed, what took place at the samba schools during their formation, what exactly the meaning of a gesture, a shoe, a jacket was. We know a lot, but not enough to completely get to know this universe. The samba musicians that preceded Paulinho da Viola lived their culture without worrying about telling this history. The art of samba doesn't look for admirers, it simply happens.
In the beginning, the samba was directly associated to the African parties. As time went by, samba and carnival were growing together, becoming pillars of the popular and urban Brazilian culture. For us, that were not there living that that moment, there is a present hanging around. Something left by those other samba musicians so that not everything was lost due to the demands of the new times, but instead, embracing and giving these new styles a new face, according to this Brazilian essence. It is not a coincidence that the outcome was Paulinho da Viola’s samba.