Capoeira Music

Capoeira music is what really makes capoeira stand out compared to other martial arts and activities. Its sounds are unique, complex and mysterious to those listening for the first time...

I get a rush every time I listen to the music in the roda!

This page will hopefully provide a little insight to this amazing aspect of capoeira...

Purpose of Music

The music of capoeira is so important due to the various purposes it serves within the art. Below are a few of the main purposes I've seen that the music serves in capoeira.

    Capoeira music, an essential element of capoeira
  • Disguise game – Originally, the music was used in an attempt to disguise capoeira as a dance or ritual. The slaves training didn't want their masters to know they were practicing self defense, so the music helped misdirect anybody observing the players.
  • Teach traditions and lessons – The music of capoeira often seeks to teach the listener about capoeira. The songs are a method to pass down the history and traditions to generations of future capoeiristas. Look at some of the capoeira lyrics and see for yourself.
  • Direct the game – Within the roda, the music directs the game being played. For instance, certain toques (rhythms) direct a different style of play. Other rhythms tell players when to start, stop, slow down and speed up. The music is the conductor of the roda!
  • Creative expression – The music in capoeira also provides another creative expression for the art. Many mestres create new music, toques and lyrics which only help to broaden the expression of capoeira. Thus it's an outlet for capoeira to grow and develop over time.

Now that you know some of the reasons for music in capoeira, learn what the music actually is...

Elements of the Music

The music itself is both complex and simple at the same time. It's made up of some basic elements which combine to make the diverse array of capoeira music that exists today. Highlighted below are some of the major elements.

  • Lyrics – The actual lyrics in capoeira songs are very important. They tell history, stories and teach lessons. This link leads to more information about lyrics and provides some resources for learning them yourself. Below are more details about the types of capoeira lyrics.
    • Ladainha – This literally means a litany. It is sung as a solo in the beginning of a roda by the person leading the roda. It can be used for teaching lessons, telling stories or giving thanks before the roda begins.
    • Quadras – Created by Mestre Bimba, this can take the place of the ladainha for starting the roda. It's called a quadra since it is a series of four verses which begin the song.
    • Louvação – Played after the quadra, the louvação gives thanks and recognition to God, mestres and other important figures for capoeira. It also begins the call and response with players repeating the chorus.
    • Corridos – This means 'call and response'. This part of the song is where those in the roda participate in the chorus section of the song. The person leading the roda leads the song and players sing on the chorus.

  • Toques – Toques are the various musical rhythms that are played in capoeira. Each toque has it's own significance to the game being played. These are dictated by the berimbau. The other instruments has standard rhythms that follow the specific toques.
  • Clapping – Clapping is an important element to the music. The participants of the roda contribute to the music and energy of the game through their clapping.

These are just some of the major elements of th music of capoeira. To really understand it, you really need to hear it for yourself. Below are some resources for good capoeira music...

Where to Buy

If you really want to learn about capoeira music, it's essential that you actually listen to some. Below are the resources I use get high quality capoeira music to listen to.

  • Academy – Your mestre at your local academy should have some capoeira CDs for sale. This is a good option since they'll have the music you listen to while training and thus you'll get to learn music that's relevant to your group. Also they know what's good versus whats not.
  • Online – This is a much more accessible option. There are some good resources I've found online for quality capoeira music. Here is what I use to specifically add to my capoeira mp3 collection.

Hopefully this provided a little crash course on the music of capoeira. It is by no means in depth, but provides a starting point to understand what role the music plays and how to learn more. With that, start listening!

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