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Songs - African and Afro-brazilian music | Grupo Nzinga de Capoeira Angola

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Songs - African and Afro-brazilian music

... Sing, perform, and play...
Master Pastinha said that 'capoeiristas', when playing, they respected the masters and the companions, improvising gestures, songs, and answering in chorus.
He said, still, that it is no fault if one does not know how to sing, but it is a fault, and forbidden in the 'bateria' (Capoeira's musical band), does not know to answer in chorus to the singer, that sings an improvised plot.


African and Afro-brazilian music

Non-western world
With oral tradition
Linked to events
With strong presence of songs
Associated to movements

The musical sounds repeat in time and have:
Duration = time
Intensity = stronger or weaker
Height = bass or acute
Tone = origin

Songs are sequences of musical sounds and they also present properties, such as:
Compass = division in small parts
Progression = sound succession and speed
Rhythm = sequence of sounds and pauses


But the researcher Tiago de Oliveira Pinto reminds us that music is a cultural abstraction, therefore its production and understanding differs among human groups. He tells that Master Vavá of Bahia Bay, when commenting on a 'capoeira' game, said: "There the 'berimbau' changes the tone", which meant change the beat and thus, with new movements in the instrument, guide a change in the game.
So words as tone, scale, rhythm and harmony can have different meanings when used in the European musical theory or when used in other places and conditions, or other cultures.

John Baily, also a researcher, emphasized the importance of movements in the African musicality. It’s the possible movements in the instruments that generate "tones" and an acoustic scale, different from the sonority written in scores of European western music.

In the African and afro-descending music the movements of the human body created or discovered by each musician with certain instrument, with a form that imposes limitations, result in the musical structure and in the movement patterns reached by virtuosity and technique.

Another researcher, Gerhard Kubik, was already interested in researching African and Afro-brazilian music patterns. He found, among Africans and in Brazil, similar rhythmic patterns, such as, for instance, those executed in a type of instrument of a group to guide the other musicians and dancers in the timing of the music. So he proposed one more confirmation for the Bantu origin of 'samba-de-roda', with which Capoeira has connections.


Gerhard Kubik. Angolan traits in black music, games and dances of Brazil; a study of african cultural extensions overseas. Lisboa: Junta de Investigações Científicas do Ultramar, 1979.
John Baily. Music structure and human movement. In P. Howell; I. Cross; R. West (eds.) Musical structure and cognition. London: Academic Press, 1985.
Osvaldo Lacerda. Teoria elementar da música. 4 ed. São Paulo: Musicália, 1976.
Tiago de Oliveira Pinto. Som e música. Questões de uma antropologia sonora. Revista de Antropologia v.44 n.1, São Paulo, 2001.

Grupo Nzinga de Capoeira Angola, 2001.

Roda de Capoeira Angola - Grupo Nzinga

Roda de Capoeira Angola - Grupo Nzinga


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