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Samba-enredo or samba de enredo is a subgenre of Samba in which songs are performed by a samba school (or escola de samba) for the festivities of Brazilian Carnival. "Samba-enredo" translates literally in Portuguese to "samba in song", or "song samba". Each samba school creates a new samba-enredo in advance of the next year's Carnaval, which is selected by competition, to be performed in the final Carnaval parades and events leading up to Carnaval.
Selecting a samba-enredo
For each samba school, choosing the following year's samba-enredo is a long process. Well in advance of the Carnaval parade, each samba school holds contests for writing the song. The song is written by samba composers from within the school itself, ("Ala dos Compositores") or sometimes from outside composers, normally in "parcerias"(partnerships). Each school receives many—sometimes hundreds—songs, hoping to be the next samba-enredo for that year. The samba-enredo is written by these numerous composers mentioned above only after the Carnival Art Director, or "Carnavalesco" officially publishes the samba school's parade theme synopsis for the year. After a careful explanation of the parade-theme, many times done by the Carnival Art Director himself, composers may ask questions in order to clarify the synopsis, so they could start writing the samba-enredos.
The schools select the song by process of elimination and usually end up somewhere between five and ten songs. Around this time, the finalist samba-enredos are played with music and are voted on by the leaders of the samba school and the carnavalesco—the director of the school for Carnaval. After months of deliberation, the new samba-enredo is chosen and becomes the voice of the samba school for the next year's Carnaval. The most important night in this process, is called the "final de samba", or samba final, when the samba school decides between two or three samba-enredos. At the end of the process, the winning samba-enredo is selected, and it is this song that is sung during the school's parade in the Sambadrome. This process normally happens in Brazil from August until November, and today is highly professionalized, with samba-composers hiring fans, producing CDs, banners, and throwing parties to promote their samba-enredo.
It is important to note that the samba-enredo is one of the criteria used by the Judging committee to decide who is the winner of the Carnaval parade competition. The samba-enredo must be well sung by the samba school's puxador (or singer) or the school will lose points. While the puxador sings, everyone marching in the Carnaval parade sings the samba-enredo along with him, and harmony is another judging criterion.