Music is an essential part of Capoeira tradition. Combining singing with percussion, Capoeira music provides energy and rhythm to the game. Tales are told through songs sung in Portuguese, which convey Brazilian history and the history of Capoeira.
Capoeira songs tell stories based on the every day life of Capoeiristas. This is an important oral story telling tradition as it informs new Capoeira learners of past Capoeira developments – important description of the life of older players which often isn’t captured nor included in history books.
Capoeira songs convey a range of emotions: sad songs, funny, ironic, wise and informative to the player. Capoeira music is used to involve all the participants in the Roda with an enchanting and captivating rhythm. At the London School of Capoeira we use the eight traditional instruments: three different size berimbaus, two pandeiros, one reco reco, one agogo and one atabaque.
Each instrument has a set position in the orchestra of the Roda which is called “Bateria”. The main instrument, the berimbau (a one string instrument with the shape of a bow) is played by the most senior person present at a Roda.
All the other instruments are complimentary to the berimbau. The tempo is set by the master berimbau and the person who holds it will also lead the singing. The first type of song sung in the Roda is a solo called a ladainha (lament). When a master is singing a ladainha, the first Capoeiristas to play enter the circle and listen to the song in a squatting position at the Pé do Berimbau (foot of the berimbau).
Once the master finish singing the ladainha, the next type of song, called corrido, is sung with the participation of the chorus. The players then take it in turns to enter the circle and play.