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How I learned to like capoeira songs

When I first got into capoeira, I excitedly looked forward to learning the music. I had heard that capoeira songs represented an important oral tradition, that they were a treasure trove of historical knowledge, philosophy, and wisdom. But when I started looking up lyrics and their translations, I was somewhat disappointed.


Why capoeira songs should stay in Portuguese

Capoeiristas fall into two camps when it comes to singing capoeira songs in other languages. The people who are against it say that Portuguese is the traditional language of capoeira songs and we should preserve that tradition. They argue that the individual should change in order to learn capoeira, not change capoeira in order to suit the individual. Those who are in favor of singing in other languages say that capoeira has always evolved to adapt to its environment, and as capoeira spreads to other countries and cultures, non-Brazilian capoeiristas should be able to freely express themselves in their own languages. They argue that Portuguese wasn't the native language of capoeira's African creators, so why should we stick to it as "tradition"?


Why sing Paraná ê?

Much of capoeira’s philosophy and history is recorded between the lines of its songs, not forgetting that part of this history is linked with that of Brazil. This is why it’s important to research and question the meaning of some songs, since their main purpose is to pass on a message, whether immediately or for later reflection.

So we are going to talk a little bit about the historical content within one of capoeira’s most popular songs: Parana ê. It refers to the War of Paraguay, but what was this war?


The ladainha of Pedro Cem

The legend of Pedro Cem is widely known in Brazil. I often heard the story told as a parable. There is also a poem by João Martins de Ataíde that tells the story, of which there are various versions. To this day, Pedro Cem continues to serve as a frightening example.


Guide to Making Berimbau Arames

My illustrated, step-by-step guide, covering everything from cutting open the tire to making the loops on the ends


The dobrão

A dobrão is the thick coin used to play the berimbau, and mine had gone missing after our street roda. I had others at home... but for capoeiristas, it's more than just a piece of lost property. You develop a certain affinity with your dobrão; it's the part of the berimbau you always carry with you. Baquetas are a dime a dozen, but losing a dobrão is almost like losing a patuá, a protective amulet.


Capoeira instrument tips

Berimbau Tips

Pandeiro and Atabaque Tips

Agogô and Reco-Reco Tips

Singing Tips for the Roda