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DONG!                 DING!                   TCHK!

3 simple notes. So simple and raw in sound, yet they provide the very basis on which game and style of capoeira that should be played in the roda. Generally speaking, the faster the berimbau is played, the faster the game is.

The berimbau is a single-string percussion instrument from Brazil, but has its origins from Africa, and was eventually adapted into the game of capoeira alongside the atabaque (drum) and the pandeiro (tambourine) in the early 20th century. It is the most important instrument used in the capoeira roda as it not only controls the style and pace of the game, but it also starts and finishes the capoeira roda.

The berimbau is made up of the Verga (wooden rod), Arame (wire) and Cabaca (gourd). The pitch of the note is made by placing the Pedra (stone) or Dobrao on the arame while it is struck with the Baqueta (stick), and is also accompanied by the Caxixi in hand.

berimbau

There are 3 sounds:

  • Low note (DONG) – arame is struck without the pedra and the cabaca is away from the belly
  • High note (DING) – arame is struck with the pedra and the cabaca is away from the belly
  • Broken note (TCHK) – arame is struck with the pedra loosely placed making a buzzing sound and the cabaca is placed on the belly

There are 3 sizes of the berimbau:

Gunga, Medio and Viola.

The size refers to the size of the cabaca. The Gunga has the deepest sound, the Medio has the medium pitch, and the Viola has the highest. Each berimbau has a specific role and toque during play.

3 Basic Notes for Berimbau

Here are the 3 Basic Toques that we play in ABADA Capoeira.

Legend: O=Dong    I=Ding    X=Tchk    x=Tchk(but not struck)    .=rest
Note: all sounds are of equal length in a traditional 4/8 time signature.

1st

Angola

angola scores

Toque de Angola

2nd

Benguela

benguela scores

Toque de Benquela

3rd

Sao Bento Grande de Regional

Sao Bento Grande de Regional scores

Toque de Sao Bento Grande

Variations can be done

As long as it is in time with, and reverts back to, the toque.

Toque de Angola Variations

As with capoeira training, it takes time and a lot of practice to play the berimbau.

But with time, and regular practice, you’ll feel comfortable and your hands will adapt.

...and your pinky finger will stop hurting! : )

berimbau

LEARN TO PLAY ON BERIMBAU WITH US!
At ABADA-Capoeira you are entitled to train 2 classes for free!

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