Capoeira is played to music, to the instruments of the orquestra (orchestra), which consists of the berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque and the agogô.

Playing the Berimbau
Playing the Berimbau

The berimbau is a bow-like instrument with an open gourd that acts as an amplifier. It holds a mystic function and is the most important instrument in capoeira. The toque or beat of the berimbau dictates the speed and style of the game in the roda —whether it is slow or fast, calm or intense. Depending on the style of roda , the orquestra may include one or two pandeiros (tambourines), an atabaque (drum) and an agogô (bell).

Along with the accompaniment of the instruments, the group sings call-and-response songs in Portuguese. These songs can be nonsensical or onomatopoeic songs, stories about mythical capoeira figures, songs about the historical struggle of Brazilian slaves and songs with messages to the players in the roda, instructing them and commenting on their game.

In order to have a full understanding of the art, all students of capoeira must learn the movements as well as the musical aspect of the game. Because the music helps control the mind and the body, capoeiristas can improve their games in the roda by taking up the berimbau and by learning the songs.

Toques de Berimbau

  • ANGOLA – Slow beat, for a game with intelligence, vision, strategy and malicia.
  • SÃO BENTO PEQUENO – Also known as inverted Angola, a beat for a friendly and very technical game.
  • SÃO BENTO GRANDE DE ANGOLA – Beat for more cadentious and fast Angola game.
  • BENGUELA – Beat for a groovy, fun, malicious and flourished game.
  • SÃO BENTO GRANDE DE BIMBA – Beat for a strong, fast game which emphasizes the martial aspect of Capoeira, aggressive not violent with lots of malicia.
  • IUNA – Beat for a low, malicious, intelligent, choreographed game. Only for graduated students and Mestres. Cintura desprezada.
  • SANTA MARIA – Beat for Sevillian razors games.
  • CAVALARIA – Beat to warn the presence of strangers, in the past announced the arrival or presence of the Police, when played the capoeirista should cloak its games.