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The term "Trio Elétrico" or "Trio" refers to the vehicle (car, truck, or specially manufactured road train) used as a moving stage for musical performances during Bahian Carnival. The term derives from the name of a 1950s music band "Trio Elétrico", from Salvador, Bahia, formed by Osmar Macêdo, Dodô Nascimento and Temístocles Aragão. The "Trio Elétrico" introduced and popularized the practice of playing amplified electric music on moving vehicles during carnival in Salvador. When the idea was copied, in the mid-1950s, the name of band became a generic term that refers to all moving stages transporting performing band or orchestras as a "trio elétrico", regardless to the number of musicians involved.

The "Trio Elétrico" (the band) originated as a duo, called "Dupla Eletrica" (electric duo), founded by Osmar Macêdo and Dodô Nascimento in the 1940s. The instruments used by the "Dupla Eletrica" and the "Trio Elétrico", selfmade electric guitars, mandolins (cavaquinho tuned like a mandolin), and tenor guitars (known as "triolim" in Brazil), were originally called "Pau Elétrico" (electric stick or electric log). The mandolin/cavaquinho version of the Pau Elétrico is now known as "Guitarra Baiana", the central subject of this website.

Discussions on the origin of the trio elétrico are sometimes biased by the different meanings implied by the term (the proper name of the 1950's band vs. the general reference to a vehicle used as a moving stage) mainly because the practice of playing on a moving car was first launched by the duo version of the band ("Dupla Eletrica"), in a historic performance involving the famous "Fobica", a Ford 1929 oldtimer, the first vehicle to serve as a trio elétrico (in the generic sense of the term). While the "Fobica" is commonly regarded the first trio elétrico , the trio version of the band only formed a year later, in response to the great success of that performance.