Samba-enredo is a subgenre of Samba in which songs are performed by a samba school (or escola de samba) for the festivities of Carnaval. "Samba-enredo" is the Portuguese equivalent of "samba in song", or "song samba". It is one of the 8 or even 10 different styles of samba music, which also include, the following subgenres:
- "Samba de Breque"
- "Samba Partido Alto"
- "Samba de terreiro or de quadra"
- "Samba Choro, choriho, or chorão"
- "Samba de Balanço"
Choosing a samba-enredo is a long and tedious process. Before the Carnaval parade itself (February or March), a determined samba school holds contests for writing the song. The song is written by samba composers from the school itself, ("Ala dos Compositores") or sometimes from outside composers, normally in "parcerias" (partnerships). Each school receives many, sometimes hundreds of 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 parade theme synopsis. 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.
They 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 Carnaval. The samba-enredo must be well sung by the samba school's puxador (or singer) or the school will lose points for the scoring and judging for the Carnaval competition. The most important night in this process, is called the "final de samba", or samba final, when the samba school decided normally between 2 or 3 samba-enredos. While the puxador sings, everyone marching in the Carnaval parade must sing along with him. Harmony is crucial when singing the samba-enredo. This process normally happens in Brazil from August until November, and today is highly professionalized, with samba-composers hiring fans, producing CDs, banners, and parties to promote their samba-enredo. At the end of the process, there is obviously one samba-enredo song, and that´s what the samba school sings during its formal presentation at the Sambadrome. Important to note that the samba-enredo is one of the criteria used by the Judging committee to decide who is the winner of that specific carnival championship.