A brief description about Capoeira instruments:

Capoeira uses many percussion instruments, including berimbau, the pandeiro, and the atabaque. All the instruments together make up the (band) of Capoeira.

These instruments are accompanied by singing and sometimes clapping. The amount of instruments and the order they are in vary from school to school, but in general...

Capoeira Angola (traditional form of Capoeira) uses the following instruments in order from left to right (if you are facing the bateria):
Rec˘-rec˘ (optional), ag˘g˘, pandeiro, 3 berimbaus, pandeiro (optional), atabaque, no clapping.

Traditionally,Capoeira Regional (style originated in the 1930's) uses only:
Pandeiro, 1 berimbau, pandeiro, people in the circle clap.
However, most schools nowadays keep the same bateria for Angola and Regional.



The most important instrument in Capoeira is the Berimbau. The style and speed of the play is decided by the tune/rhythm (toque), which is being played at the time. The berimbau is one of the oldest string instruments in the world, and was brought to Brazil by the African slaves. It's made of a piece of wood (verga/pau) about a metre and a half long (alot of people use bamboo, but the proper wood to use is biriba from Brazil). The wood is bent into an arc, and a wire(arame), traditionally animal intestines, but now usually wire from the inside of a car tyre, is attached to both ends to make a kind of bow. A specially prepared gourd (cabaša) is fitted to one end to act as a resonator (it makes the sound louder). The berimbau player holds the bow in one hand, and hits the string with a small stick about 30 cm long (vaqueta) with the other hand, which also holds a small shaker (caxixi). Different notes are produced by pressing a big coin or stone (dobrŃo) against the wire.

The berimbau plays three notes: open, closed and "buzz." The open note is made by just hitting the arame without pressing the dobrŃo or pedra against it, making a low tone. The closed note is a higher pitch, and is made when the dobrŃo or pedra is pressed against the arame. The buzz note is when the dobrŃo or pedra is touching the arame, but not pushing in. Other effects include moving the cabaša towards or away from the player's stomach, making the "wah-wah" noise, and using the caxixi.

In Capoeira Angola three types of berimbau are used: Gunga or bass berimbau plays the base rhythm (usually played by the master of the roda), the MÚdio or middle-pitched berimbau plays the base rhythm with variations, and the Viola or highest pitched berimbau improvises with the rhythm.

The berimbau is used in Capoeira and Samba de Roda, and although it has been used in other types of music (the Brazilian heavy metal group Sepultura uses it sometimes), many people say that you can't have Capoeira without a berimbau, and you can't have a berimbau without Capoeira.


The Pandeiro is a Portuguese tambourine with a skin and flat jingles (the little cymbals that go around the side). It is the second most important instrument in Capoeira. If you are only going to have two instruments for Capoeira they should be a berimbau and a pandeiro.

The pandeiro is almost a hand held drumset because it can make hihat, snare, and kick sounds. The bass note is made by hitting the skin close to the rim in a "bouncy" way so that the sound isn't dampened. This is usually done with the thumb, but you can also use your finger tips. The other main sound is the slap which is an open handed slap to the centre of the skin. Please don't hit the skin too hard! You can wreck the instrument like that and it's not necessary. Getting this sound is all about technique, which a Capoeira teacher or Pandeiro player can show you.

Besides these sounds, you can make the jingles sound in a variety of different ways. One way is hitting the skin with your finger tips (but not making the low tone). Other ways involve moving the pandeiro itself without hitting it.

The pandeiro is commonly used in other Brazilian music, Samba, Forrˇ, Samba-Reggae, even Funk. It is a very versatile instrument, capable of amazing rhythms. Some people even juggle them and spin them on their fingers, but if you want to try that, make sure it's your pandeiro, and it has a soft landing place if you drop it. Even if it doesn't break, it can get bent and warped, which makes it harder to juggle, and more importantly can change its sound.


The Atabaque is a tall standing drum similar to a conga made of long strips of wood joined side by side to each other, and covered at the end by animal skin that is tied on with rope. The other end is not covered. The atabaque plays a similar beat to the pandeiro, and follows its rhythm.

The most basic way to play it uses only two different sounds, the low tone and the slap. The slap is sort of similar to the pandeiro slap (you slap the centre of the skin with a similar technique). The low tone is made by hitting the skin near the rim like with the pandeiro, but you hit it with the base of your fingers instead of the thumb or finger tips, and you use both hands.

The atabaque is used in Capoeira, Samba de Roda, Maculŕlŕ (Brazilian folk dance with sticks or cane knives/machetes, which in modern times is practised by many Capoeira schools), and religious ceremonies of CandomblÚ and Macumba. It was because of its religious use that Mestre Bimba did not include the atabaque in his Capoeira Regional.

There are three types of atabaque which can be used together and are called (from biggest to smallest): rum, rum-pi and le. In Capoeira only one atabaque is used.


The ag˘g˘ is an African double-headed bell. One of the bells is high pitched, and the other one is lower. It is played by hitting the bells with a small stick, following the pandeiro rhythm. There is also a clicking sound you can make with the Ag˘g˘ by squeezing it, so that the two bells hit eachother.

The ag˘g˘ is used in Samba and Capoeira, as well as other forms of popular music and Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies.


The rec˘-rec˘ is a scraper which sounds similar to the guiro used in Cuban music. It is usually a section of a large piece of bamboo with notches cut into one side. The player slides a thin stick over the lines to make the rhythm, which is also similar to the pandeiro rhythm.

The rec˘-rec˘ is also used in Samba, where it can be made out of metal with springs instead of the notches. In some regions of Brazil the reco-reco is known as 'reso-reso', 'raspador' or 'casaca'. Of all the instruments in the Capoeira bateria, the rec˘-rec˘ is the least commonly used.


People in the roda who are not playing in the middle or playing instruments can clap their hands. The way this is done varies from school to school, but in our school, there is no clapping in Capoeira Angola, and there are two variations of Regional clap that are both used (although not simultaneously).

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