The origin of the word forró is controversial. Some academics believe the name came from a corruption of the expression for all, used by the English to invite the workers on the construction of the Northeast Brazilrailways, during the time of Great Western, to participate in the parties they had.
Another explanation, defended by Luís da Câmara Cascudo, says that the word comes from the abbreviation of the African term forrobodó, which means ‘party, mess’.
The words forrobodó and forrobodança were used widely by the press in Recife during the second half of the 19th century. According to Pereira da Costa, in his Vocabulário pernambucano (Pernambuco Vocabulary), it means “fun, dancing, party”.
At first the term referred to only the party and the place where the party was held; later it began to signify the musical and dance genre. Within forró there is room for all the rural rhythms of northeast Brazil and other regions, such as baião, xote, xaxado, côco, quadrilha junina, o samba rural, a mazurca, and rancheira.
It was born in Northeast Brazil and taken to the south of the country by the Pernambuco singer and composer Luiz Gonzaga, at the end of the 1940s. Exploring the regional vernacular and the art of the people of the Northeast, it represented the Northeast in the minds of Brazilians, bringing its problems to attention and spreading interest in its traditions.
Forró became one of the typical genres of the ciclo junino (June Festival Cycle), but it is danced throughout the year.
The instruments used in traditional forró, known as “forró pé-de-serra”, are the accordion, whose keys are all played, the tambourine and the triangle.
The dance is performed by couples who dance “stuck together”, also doing some movements separately, with their bodies swinging to the rhythm.
Today, forró is a well-known rhythm and appreciated throughout the country, spread by successful Northeast artists such as Alceu Valença and Elba Ramalho, among others.
In the 1990s, the rhythm and dance were influenced strongly by the lambada, giving rise to what is known as lambaforró.
During the June festivals, the cities of Caruaru, in Pernambuco and Campina Grande, in Paraíba, organise ‘mega-forrós’ and “fight” to see who has “the best forró in Brazil”, calling themselves the “capital of forró”.
Recife, 11 May 2004.
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.
Updated on 28 August 2009.
Updated on 04 may 2017.
FERRETTI, Mundicarmo Maria R. Na batida do baião, no balanço do forró: a musica de Zédantas de Luiz Gonzaga no seu contexto de produção e sua atualização na década de 70. 1983. Dissertação (Mestrado em Ciências Sociais) – Departamento de Estudos Sociais, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, 1983.
FORRÓ. [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: < .Acesso">http://wikidanca.net/wiki/index.php/Forr%C3%B3>.Acesso em: 27 abr. 2017.
FORRÓ. (Photo in Highlight of Month). Disponível em: <http://brendaconteudo.pbworks.com/w/page/25441489/O-que-%C3%A9-o-forr%C3%B3>. Acesso em: 8 jun. 2011.
LIMA, Claudia Maria de Assis Rocha. Festejos juninos. In: HISTÓRIA junina. Recife: Prefeitura. Secretaria de Turismo, 1997. p.18.23.
SILVA, Leonardo Dantas. No tempo do forrobodó. Diário de Pernambuco, Recife 1º jul. 1994. Opinião, p. 2.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Forró. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.