Capoeira Mata Um - The Rhythm Of Bahia And The Sound Of The World


Toque de Angola • Jogo de Dentro • Santa Maria São Bento Grande • São Bento Pequeno • Iúna Capoeira Regional • Cavalaria • Samba de Roda da Capoeira

Plus 10 Toques
newly arranged and recorded by worldmusic-, jazz- and pop-artists from Rio, Haiti, Africa and Europe: U-Cef, Albert Mangelsdorff, Eval Manigat, Ba Mamour, Tchando, Marco Schneider, Inuka.

A CD-project by Tropical Music

Capoeira Mata Um



76 Minutes  Booklet 24 P. Engl. cont. Info, Lyrics port./engl. Photos



CD 68.816  

Informationen zur CD



Informationen zur CD

Capoeira Mata Um - a saying from Bahia,with different meanings: Capoeira kills you - that is the martial part - and Capoeira is so beautiful, that it knocks you off your feet. For the first time ever there will be released a CD that doesn't exist even in Brasil. Authentic music of Capoeira and Capoeira Rhythms mixed with modern sounds of World- music, Jazz and Dance.

The idea I Capoeira I Capoeira original I Capoeira regional I Capoeira mundial
O Jogo I The music I The toques

The idea

In the beginning, it was the idea of many to make a recording of the music of the Capoeira with a choice of excellent musicians under optimal studio conditions. Particular focus was to be taken of the tone-rich Berimbaus, each one fulfilling a particular musical function, together with the percussion instruments. Included in this project were to be the songs like the Ladainhas and the Quadras.

Claus Jaeke
, with whom I worked in 1994/95 to produce the CD anthology 'Conspiração Baiana' (Tropical Music 68.970), started to research the most customary tempos, ways of playing, instrumental arrangements, songs and words employed in authentic Toques. We put together Capoeira recordings that were already available and realised straight away that we actually wanted to design this in a completely different way. We didn't want to engage in some semi-ethnological fieldwork, we just wanted to have Capoeira Music to listen to, to feel, to experience and to dance to for the year 2001. (Tropical Music 68.970), started to research the most customary tempos, ways of playing, instrumental arrangements, songs and words employed in authentic Toques. We put together Capoeira recordings that were already available and realised straight away that we actually wanted to design this in a completely different way. We didn´t want to engage in some semi-ethnological fieldwork, we just wanted to have Capoeira Music to listen to, to feel, to experience and to dance to for the year 2001.

On the one hand this meant absolute genuineness in respect to the recording of the Toques, on the other it was not only important to us to make as authentic recordings as possible, but to capture the full depth and richness of the vocal elements. To achieve this aim we had to find good singers and allocate different parts to choirs who normally sang in unison or in two-part arrangements - a quite unconventional practice for Bahian music. In the course of our research we entered, via the internet, a world of the Capoeira that existed outside of Brazil. It surprised us to discover how many people all over the world, even down in Bondi Beach, Australia, were actively involved in Capoeira, either for its dance-like, spiritual content or because of its martial and combative aspect.

It became clear to us that we couldn´t leave the music of the Capoeira restricted to Salvador/Bahia either. Capoeira has become a global phenomenon. This provoked us to request musicians from other cultural fields to complement the primal musical language of the Capoeira with their own dialects, stipulating, of course, that the basic rhythm of the Toque remain unaltered. The CD should be from beginning to end ‘usable´ for the Capoeirista.

In Brazilian music there are a few good examples of transpositions of Capoeira into pop-music. Vinicius de Moraes (words) and Baden Powell (music) managed to capture in one of their Afrosambas, titled ‘Berimbau´, not only the musical essence of Capoeira, but to portray its characteristic content. Musicians such as Edu Lobo have included quotations of the Capoeira in their Songs (e.g. in Upa Neguinho). Jair Rodriguez enjoyed immense success with ‘Zum Zum Zum - Capoeira Mata Um´ (1972) and Caetano Veloso brought the Samba-de-Capoeira-folksong ‘Marinheiro Só´ to new popular acclaim. Generally speaking the Capoeira has received little or no attention from the Música Popular Brasileira. Capoeira is accepted as perfectly fit to ‘dance´ to, but its rhythm doesn´t seem to fit into the conventional musical framework comprising of Sambas, Bossas and other grooves. The sound of the Berimbaus is nevertheless to be heard in many musical productions and has left its influence on the works of musicians like Nana Vasconsello, Airto or Dino Nascimento. After all Berimbaus and Capoeira rhythms play an occasional role in Latin-Jazz, electric beat or hip-hop and in music forms closely related to break-dance.

Accommodating this global world of the Capoeira on one CD is indeed an impossible task, but we´ll at least give it a try. In view of the low level of commercialisation of Capoeira music, it would make little or no sense to appeal to a particular audience with versions of hip-hop collections. But I think it´s certainly worth the effort to transmit the power and poetry of Capoeira music, even in the musical forms of expression of our day, without, in the process, pulling the carpet from under our feet, or from under those of the Toque. And whether we then turn into Capoeira figures, just dance away, go contemplatively into ourselves by letting our antipodes start their Ginga or simply bring body and soul into a wonderful ‘balanco´: Capoeira mata um!

(table of contents)


Capoeira is a centuries old art form of the Afro-Brazilians. It is a form of combat and dance, poetry and music, aesthetics and beauty, meditation and spirituality. Piero Onori describes in his very empathetic and highly recommendable book ‘Talking Bodies´(Sprechende Körper) the essential philosophy of the Capoeira. The key word of this philosophy ‘malicia´ can only be roughly translated as ‘cunningness´ and ‘slyness´:"The Capoeirista describes ‘malicia´ as the security of the animal instinct that befriends itself with mental clarity.“ The better a person´s ‘malicia´ is developed, the better he can predict the manoeuvres of his opponent and recognise his weaknesses. For the "Capoeira does not rise above its members, but places them into reality.“ That´s why a Jogo, as the dance is called, always begins upon the request of the Mestre: E Volta pro mundo, camara! - Hey, come back into the world, friend!

Capoeira is a platform for soloist claims to leadership both in the game of the Berimbau and in the dance itself. It is, however, more so a community act and a demonstration of mutual trust within the Roda (dance circle). In the peaceful and playful Capoeira the Capoeiristas trust their ‘opponent´ to keep a distance of one centimetre between his kicking feet and their body. Both entrust the Mestre, along with his musicians, to musically take lead of the event. From this emerges self- confidence - or trust in oneself. (This reminds me to a certain extent of the triangle of suspense in the Flamenco gitano andaluz: The Mestre is in this instance the Cantaor/Cantaora, whose singing is captured by the guitars and transposed by the Bailaores.)

Capoeira is solo, duo, group-form and school. Every Capoeirista refers to his Mestre with pride as his teacher. Musicians and Capoeiristas are a community that revolves around the Mestre, similar to those found in the Terreiros de Candomblé led by black priestesses and priests. Since Mestre Bimba added his own style of playing, the Capoeira Regional, to that of the traditional Capoeira de Angola and since Capoeiristas and Mestres have settled in New York, Montreal, Paris, Berlin and Sidney and have trained many students, there are also signs of emerging Capoeira ideologies and slight intolerance developing in the various schools and centres.

(table of contents)

Capoeira original

Tropical Music presents The Capoeira ProjectThere is no solid proof that Capoeira found its way directly from Africa to Brazil. It´s, however, worth having a look in the Congo/Angola region to search for possible traces of its origin. Musicians from Brazil and Angola can indeed combine Angolan Sembas and Brazilian Samba into a common song, they cannot, however, play or dance any Capoeira together, for a counterpart cannot be found in the whole of Africa. Proof of Angolan origin can be certainly found in the Berimbau and the drums. The verses sung between the solo-singers and choir belie a relationship to a key word, ‘Batuque´ (Portuguese: Umbigada), which appears to be an extant souvenir of the Bantu culture of the Congo region, representing a typical schemata of the African dances that were imported into eastern Latin America, between Cuba and Montevideo, with the slaves: a circle comprising of musicians, singers and choir singers and a hand-clapping audience is formed, in the middle of which one performs a solo dance or competes with another, until one signals, by touching another person on the hip, that it is his/her turn now. In Brazil this principle has been incorporated into the Samba and innumerable forms of Afro-Brazilian folklore and the scenic folk plays.

Capoeristas jumpingAccording to the chronicles Capoeira appeared for the first time in Brazil after the largest settlement and centre of resistance (Quilombo) for escaped slaves, Palmares, had fallen in 1695 with the murder of their leader Zumbi, after almost 100 years fighting against the Dutch and the Portuguese colonialists. Zumbi, like his predecessor Ganga-Zumba, was a member of the Nago (Bantu/Angola) Africans, and Capoeira, it is believed, either emerged as a rediscovery of old African traditions in Palmares or was developed as a technique of combat. For a long time Capoeira was carried out in rough manner, even with knives - in times when dancing was used more to camouflage events of a more violent nature and where in some regions of Brazil rogues and bandits were imprecated as ‘Capoeiro´. The authorities made heavy weather of this popular sport, which remained attached to the Quilombos, illegal secret secret societies and other forms of popular resistance. Many of the events of this time are recorded in the chronicles, some of the recordings taking the form of pictorial representation: between 1816 and 1831 a drawing made by the Frenchman Debret appeared showing two musicians with Berimbau and Balafon (Mbira) and the artist Rugendas drew in 1824 Capoeiristas with clenched fists without a Berimbau.

Although Capoeiristas were drawn into the war against Paraguay, Capoeira was officially prohibited in 1890. However, just in the same manner that in this time the Afro-Brazilian culture was flowering in all the cities, prohibitions, since the first landing of slaves to the continent, always seemed to reinforce, rather than curtail, the prevalence of the forbidden practice. Especially in Rio de Janeiro Capoeira developed amidst intense rivalry between slave groups on the one hand and with the increasing street violence of black gangs, on the other. It played just as much a role in political conflicts as in the scuffles between rival gangs. There were no Berimbaus during these events, just singing and drumming. Looking at the chronicles there is little that would remind us of the Capoeira of today.

In Bahia the Capoeira history refers to Manuel Henrique, the Besouro, as their mythical founder, which was carefully observed by the both the Mestre Pastinha (1889-1981) and Mestre Bimba (1900-1974). Both Mestres made each other´s acquaintance in a time when the prohibition forced their activities into the underground. It is thanks to Mestre Bimba, who convinced a local politician of the of the value of preserving Capoeira, that the Academia de Capoeira that was founded by Mestre Bimba himself in 1932, after having been granted official permission.

Capoeira schoolDespite the changeable positions taken by the authorities further Capoeira institutes were, in the course of time, being (officially) opened and meanwhile a city like Salvador da Bahia has gained further significance on account of the Capoeira. It offers children and youths places to learn and become involved in Capoeira as a measure to combat the insurmountable problem of street children. But this is like many of the other projects inaugurated by the Brazilian government, ‘here today, gone tomorrow´, and there is already a myriad of internet sites calling for international solidarity for a Capoeira Academia in Salvador that are due to be cut off from official sponsorship and closed. Bahia´s great writer Jorge Amado referred to Mestre Pastinha as one of the greatest figures in Bahia´s public life. And nevertheless, the almost blind Pastinha had to in 1973 leave his house, situated in the historical district, Pelourinho, because of a planned redevelopment project and close his Academia (Capoeira de Angola), which was founded in 1941. Other famous Mestres from Salvador
are Mestre Waldemar, Mestre Caicara and Mestre Ezikiel.

(table of contents)

Capoeira regional

In Brazil Capoeira is a folk art, which is open to all strata of the population. It first came as Capoeira de Angola from the Quilombos and other groups to Rio, São Paulo, Recife and Salvador da Bahia and in the 20th century was able to generate fulcrum points, particularly in Bahia, the spiritual sphere of the ‘Black Rome´.

In Rio and São Paulo, as in many other Brazilian cities, Academias have likewise been established. In earlier days there was a type of simplified Capoeira de Perna (Pernada) in Rio, where in a Batuque roda the person chosen to dance would not be beckoned by touching the person´s belt or hip with one´s hand, but kicked against the leg.

Related to the Capoeira is indeed the Maculelé which children perform as a combative stick dance in rural, scenic folk festivals like the Caboclinhos and Cucumbis. In Recife the Capoeira groups were instrumental in the development of the Frevo dance after for decades being taken along in the midst of the military orchestras during the carnival processions. At some stage the Maxixe and march playing orchestra must have been infected by the syncopations of the Capoeiristas. There emerged a lively march-polka with syncopations typical of the Capoeira Toques.

Capoeira schoolIn Rio Mestre Bimba came into contact with Asian martial arts, elements of which he incorporated into his Capoeira in order to make it more attractive for the youth, for he received official permission for his Academia and other projects because he committed himself to the Edução Fisicia (physical education) of the youth. Mestre Bimba enjoyed great popularity, even beyond Brazil´s borders. His playing style, called Capoeira Regional, is often offered as an alternative to the Capoeira de Angola, particularly outside of Bahia. Compared to the ‘Angola´ style the Capoeira Regional is more combat orientated, more open to new influences and in every respect more modern.

(table of contents)

Capoeira mundial

The essential characteristics of Capoeira can be recognised in the polarity, that exists between structure and improvisation, rooted in both music and dance. Further characteristics can be identified in the common ground shared with the Afro-Brazilian ritual fields and the significance of hierarchy and soloist performances on the one hand and the group pressure to conform, on the other. In instrumental play these characteristics are already in place and are very much related to the structures one encounters in jazz or rock. All of this only goes to open the Capoeira and its cultural sphere to the influences of other musicians from other cultural areas.

For our album concept these encounters have proven to be even more manifold, for almost all non-Brazilian artists, no longer residing in their native countries, have already implanted themselves in the various breeding grounds of contemporary pop-music. All the invited musicians were granted complete artistic liberty, with only one restriction: the rhythm of the Toque was to be left unaltered and in return for this the original traces of the traditional Toques stored in our recording material was made available to the artists.

In this way an encounter was made possible between Capoeira from the Afro-Catholic Candomblé Ritus sphere and the urban Gnawa structures represented by the Moroccan U-Cef, who now resides in London. The Gnawas are the descendants of black slaves from Mali and Guinea who were brought to Morocco. They play their music to rituals whereby spirits and demons are conjured up to for the sake of their healing powers. We will hear the riffs of the Rara-Vaccines (bamboo pipes) meet the sound of the Berimbau, much resembling the Haitian Vodou ritual, in the performances of Eval Manigat who currently lives in Montreal.

Salvador was before Rio and Brazilia the first capital of Brazil. After the manumission of 1888 many Afro-Bahians came to Rio de Janeiro and formed together with their same-fated comrades from the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa´ and the refugees from the poorer north-east of the country a creative potential which Rio can now accredit for its musical trademarks like the Samba and Choro. The young Carioca Marco Schneider & Cia da Lapa has contributed his vision of a get-together between Cuica (Rio) and Berimbau (Salvador) in his Rio-City-Manguebeat.

The African roots of the Capoeira are of relevance to two African musicians in completely different respects: The Senegalese Ba Mamour, now living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, combines Capoeira with modern African vocal polyphony and Chando from Guinea Bissau, now living in Denmark, has opted for a black drums & bass version. Two young musicians from the vicinity of Bremen, Germany, under the name of Inuka have demonstrated that that even in samplings the spirit of Capoeira does not necessarily lose its tone. And for the art of improvisation with a strict playing-code, inherent to the Berimbau-Toque, there was no better choice, than the jazz musician Albert Mangelsdorff. Claus Jaeke, finally, not only filtered out the files and playbacks from our original recordings for all recordings of the Capoeira Mundial, but he also contributed to two other remixes.

(table of contents)

O Jogo

Unlike Afro-Brazilian rituals like the Candomblé the Jogo de Capoeira should not be regarded as a means to attain other and higher levels of awareness. Gods and spirits do not take possession of the Capoeiristas and through them appear to serve the wishes of the community. The Mestre (in some groups also called Capitão or Governador) is indisputably the master of ceremonies, but he is by no means a cult chief whom all should blindly obey. The dancers harmonise to the rhythm of the music with their body language and can also induce changes in Toques that have been planned or begun by the Mestre with his Berimbau. The rhythm is a mutually shared power that is transmitted from nature via the Jogo to the benefit of all the participants.

A Jogo often begins with a greeting-Chula by the choir leader. The Ladainha follows thereafter, accompanied by the berimbau, tamburim, atabaques and other percussion instruments and with a passage of call&response singing between the choir leader and the choir itself. Only at this stage do the Capoeiristas enter the roda (circle), which they approach from the side. The Mestre gives an almost imperceptible signal and then the Capoeiristas begin with ‘Pé de Berimbau´ ritual by touching the ground in front of the Mestre (with the berimbau) with their hands and then shaking their hands (preconceito). Some carry out their very own rituals and call to patron saints like Salomão. During this phase the Ladainha is accompanied by the Toque Angola which towards the end keeps playing faster and upon commencement of the Grito de Angola (Iee, Volta do mundo Camara!) the Capoeiristas start with the first phase of the Jogo lente de Angola.

One after the other the Capoeiristas perform the particular movements of the various Toques initiated by the musicians. In between, the Capoeiristas can take time out (where they move around in a circle within the roda), that some use to perform solo interludes. The berimbau signals with a chamada the end of the jogo as soon as the dancers make this wish known. If one of the dancers want to continue, he has to ‘buy´ (comprar jogo) the jogo from the Mestre and the ritual begins again with the ‘Pé de Berimbau´.

Some of the most important movements of the Capoeira de Angola:

Ginga: movement in standing - in triangular form/dance-like/balancing an opponent/to and from rocking motion.
Negativa: movement on the floor
Rolê: movement from the floor upwards
Aú: movement of the head in a downwards direction/cartwheel
Esquivas: defending movement like Cocorinha (squatting position), Resistencia (resistance)

Kicking techniques:
Meia-Lua de Frente (half moon forwards), Armada (fleet),
Queixada (jaw), etc.

In the Regional there are still Mestre Bimba´s Sequencia, whereby a sequence
of movements are combined.
(Source: Nestor Capoeira: Capoeira/Weinmann Vlg.)

(table of contents)

The music

Capoeiristas dancingThe berimbau is the centre of attention. Often two or more berimbaus are played simultaneously. In such instances one musician plays the main beat (marcação basica) and the second improvises or doubles the rhythm. In respect to tone one distinguishes between the violinha (very high pitch), viola (high pitch/solo) and the gunga (middle pitch) or berra-boi (deep pitch). Berimbaus, with a particularly large calabash, are called urucucas. The berimbau belongs to the family of musical bow instruments of African origin. Related instruments are to be found in Angola, Cuba and Burundi. Berbimbaus are made from rods carved from the Aracá, Gobiroba and Biribá trees, on the upper and lower ends of which a steel string is attached. The Mestres (who often make their own berimbaus) often fish the strings they need out of the ash-heap that is left over from burnt, steel-belted truck tires. Above the string and bow a hollow calabash is fastened by means of a loop whose opening (cucumba) faces the body of the musician. The loop´s position on the bow determines the pitch of the string, thus dividing the pitch range into two main half-sections. The musician holds the bow with the left hand a little above the calabash whereby the little finger holds the loop and a coin is held between the index finger and the thumb. The coin is pressed against the string and released again in the course of playing. In the musician´s right hand an approximately 30cm long stick (baqueta) is held between the thumb and index finger, with which he strikes the string, whose tone is regulated by the coin held in the left hand. On the right hand (usually above the small finger) hangs the caxixi, a little wicker basket with seeds inside. Between the strikes on the string the musician performs one or two short counter movements with the right hand and with this action brings the caxixi into play. In the same manner that there is a large variety African bow instruments, there are also numerous words that equate to berimbau, e.g. urucungo, humbo or bucumbumba. In Portuguese berimbau is another word for jews harp. The nasal-buzzing-clattering sound of the berimbau is often likened to the human voice: the berimbau speaks through the mouth of the calabash. Its vocal chords are the string and coin. In the north of Brazil there are variations of the berimbau: in the berimbau-de-lata a steel end is tautened between two tin cans and the pitch is varied by moving the neck of a bottle in the course of striking the string.

Other instruments of note are the reco-reco (scraper), the chocalho (shaker), the agôgô (two-bells percussion instrument), the pandeiro (hand drum with bells) and the tamburim and the atabaques (high and deep African drums).

The songs of the Jogo are Afro-Brazilian, i.e. the style of singing, intonation and alternation between choir leader and choir are of African origin while verse forms and musical idioms belie Portuguese influence. The Jogo ritual is actually an unsung one. Before the dances the ladainhas extol the descent of the Capoeiristas, the Mestres and in other respects. In the Capoeira Regional these are called quadras. Up until the beginning of the Jogo one can also hear the faster chulas. There are songs that are used to mock and irritate and it is in this respect that parallels can be found as far as Trinidad, where the Calypsoes emerged out of the spiteful songs of the stick-fight combatants around the end of the 19th century. There are many Capoeira song texts, for every toque a countless number of them. The reason for this is that they allow free space for individual embellishment and regional variation. Even recent commentaries on the event that take place in the roda can be integrated into the ritual as an object of mockery, derision or disdain.

(table of contents)

The Toques

The rhythms move predominantly in 2/4 oder 4/4 beat and occasionally there is a 6/8, like in the Cavalaria which goes to augment its intended warning function. According to the progress being made in the Jogo the tempo can vary from very slow to very fast. The toques presented in this compilation have found the concurrence of all Mestres and Academias and their students. However, sometimes the opinions on these matters do not always coincide, e.g. whether Jogo de dentro is a toque or not, is often a matter subject to the respective age of the Capoeirista.

"The generous 19 tracks on the album still allow for plenty of authentic toques, there are excellent and copious sleeve-notes, and overall this album can only contribute to a booming Euopean interest in capoeira." Songlines

"This album is both challenging and a lulling delight to hear...Recommended!"

© 2001 by Claus Schreiner All rights reserved

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