Carnival Songs: Allah-lá-ô

The first place I set foot in South America was Buenos Aires back in 2009. There are many, many reasons to love Argentina’s capital – the food, the vibrant culture, the beautiful architecture to name a few. You can almost feel history – it seems to seep from every bar and street corner you pass. One of the things I particularly enjoyed seeing there was a certain kind of South American gentleman.

As I wandered the streets I would occasionally pass an old guy dressed in 3 piece suit, walking stick and moustache, all of which seemed to hark back to a bygone era. My South American history was (and still is) very patchy, but these old men made me think of the 1930s-1950s. It was a real pleasure to see these guys and I was lucky enough to get chatting to a couple of them one night in a restaurant. They were friendly, interesting and delighted to hear that I had left everything behind to have an adventure. Speaking to them was like stepping back in time.

Well the performer of today’s carnival marchinha reminds me of those old South American gents. Funnily enough it turns out he was born in Buenos Aires, but soon moved to São Paulo and then Rio. Take a look at Carlos Galhardo:



Carlos Galhardo – the suit, the moustache and that pipe! A handsome fellow reminiscent of David Niven, everything speaks of a rather romantic bygone era. I wonder what he would make of today’s carnival.


So that is our singer. Now let’s get to today’s marchinha de carnaval – it’s a fun one!

As you listen to this, imagine yourself at a carnival bloco: the sun is shining, you’re feeling merry (maybe you’ve had a few drinks) and you’re in the middle of a huge, happy carnival crowd. The jazz band of this recording would be replaced by a carnival band, heavy on the drums and the brass section. Everyone sings along together…


 This was a carnival hit in 1941. It’s a simple song about some Egyptian Arabs who have crossed the Sahara Desert. 


As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a real crowd pleaser. Who, on hearing this, wouldn’t want to join in with the chorus? So listen to this a few times and you’ll be ready for the real thing when it comes on during carnival. Allah-lá-ô!



7 replies
  1. Rose
    Rose says:

    é incrível perceber como essa marchinha de carnaval de 1941 é um sucesso até hoje. Nossa!
    Ela tem sido passada de geração em geração. Está na memória coletiva da maioria dos brasileiros.

    Como o carnaval praticamente está batendo em nossas portas, então é o momento certo para prestarmos homenagem às marchas de carnaval e ao SAMBA. Então…

    A Srª EatRio já te apresentou uma grande cantora de samba chamada Clara Nunes ?

    Vou te deixar um grande samba interpretado por ela.

    Em 2:08 do vídeo acontece um fenômeno interessante: o samba EXPLODE nos ouvidos!

    É comum naquele minuto as pessoas se arrepiarem! Esse sinal de arrepio ao ouvir o samba da Clara Nunes, eu diria que é típico de quem é brasileiro ou também tem alma brasileira. Preste atenção a esse sinal, se você apresentá- lo, é significativo de uma brasilidade desenvolvida, escancarada e evidente!!! rs


    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Uau! Adorei esta musica! Ouvi esta canção recentemente, mas foi cantou de outra artista. Prefiro esta versão – ela tem voz muito suave mas poderoso também. Ainda tenho muito para aprender sobre as musicas do Brasil – que bom que aprender é tão agradável! 😀

      Muito obrigado Rose – quase não posso esperar pra carnaval iniciar!

  2. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    Moving on to bloco costumes: have you figured out yours yet?
    I am thinking of going as a pepper (a local Malagueta so people recognize the theme). In case you haven’t made a choice til now how about going as a vertical herb garden? You just need to fit into a casket with several openings on both sides from where herbage will be hanging. Also, make carrot props for your arms (perhaps using carrot painted pantyhose), and have your shoes resemble potatoes. To top it all off cut a pineapple – I am thinking one third of the fruit starting at the top so those coarse weedy leaves remain – and wear that as a helmet. There, a perfect outfit for carnival.
    Please post pictures.

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      I might just steal your idea to go as a pepper (good thinking to go as a Malagueta – go as a Habanero and no one would have clue what you were meant to be!).

      Vertical herb garden isn’t a bad idea. I had another idea, but I’m not sure Brazil is ready for the Flowerpot Men quite yet…

      • The Gritty Poet
        The Gritty Poet says:

        Very disturbing. Notice how at 3:12 of vid one of the flowerpot men tries to take advantage of the flower (or weed as she is called by the narrator). Inappropriate to say the least! I can’t believe they showed this to kids in the UK.
        On a side note: I am sensing someone will once more be featured in the mainstream media of a third country (perhaps a second Australian appearance) for wearing a Malagueta costume. And the genius behind it all will, once again, be overlooked. 🙁


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