Musings on the musical aspects of capoeira - Part 2

A berimbau leans against the atabaque drum, and a pandeiro rests on top.

A berimbau leans against the atabaque drum, and a pandeiro rests on top.

Today's post is a second installment of my "Musings on the musical aspects of capoeira", read part 1 here. I started writing this a week ago but decided to post about our successful capoeira workshop we had last week. In this post, I will introduce one song and its lyrics, as well as share a bit about our recent capoeira event which inspired this post in the first place.

I'm still feeling pretty energized after our open roda just over week ago. The roda (circle) is also the name of the event where capoeiristas come to play capoeira with each other. We try to organize this event at least once per month. We co-hosted the event on Stanford campus with our friends at Capoeira Irmandade in San Jose, and we had folks from Berkeley and San Francisco show up to play! Everyone brought a positive and playful spirit. I was stoked to see that even when games got intense, people kept in control and conscious of space. Here's a clip from our event:

The music here was a moderate-fast tempo, and you can see how the two players interact - their kicks are fast, lots of circular movements, flowing with each other while still trying to catch each other off-guard.

The song that Professor Medusa is leading (on the left, playing the berimbau) is called "Turma Boa". Lyrics can be found here. The chorus of this song repeats after every verse. Roughly translated, the chorus is as follows:

What group this is? What a good group/ Be careful, boy with the rocking of the boat

And the verses:

I climbed up the mountain, and came down the hill/ I saw a group playing capoeira

They played *Angola and *Regional/ They played pandeiro, atabaque, and berimbau

I climbed up the mountain, and came down the hill/ I saw a group playing all night long

*Angola and Regional are two styles of capoeira

The song tells a simple story - someone appreciating a group of people playing capoeira. It makes references to the instruments being played, which are essential to the roda. And from personal experience, when the music is good, you have the urge to play as long as the music doesn't stop!

Que turma boa!

Que turma boa!

The music is what really makes capoeira stand out from the other martial arts - and music also promotes community and cooperation. These are two ingredients to have a really great capoeira experience - both in the roda and outside of it.

For folks training capoeira anywhere outside of Brazil, Portuguese is most likely a foreign language to them. By learning the songs together, singing together, and teaching newer students, there's a subtle bonding experience that happens. Moreover, these songs are sung the world-over, and it's a really special feeling to land somewhere across the ocean and be able to synchronize movements and music together with another person, without ever having met each other!

I'll continue to share my thoughts on music and capoeira in next week's post. In the meantime, I am happy to announce that tonight, we will be launching the regular capoeira session at Hyper Active Monkey Fitness at 8pm and all Mondays until Dec 18, 2017. Hope to see you there!

Let's get moving!
-Megha Makam

GMB Fitness - Focused Flexibility