The SOUL of Capoeira

 

All instruments were made by man, the voice is the only instrument which was made by God. – Sufi Saying

 
 

Hi Everyone,

On the LAST PAGE, I shared with you my thoughts on what I believe constitues the HEART of Capoeira, it’s music.

Now, I’m gonna share with you what I believe is the SOUL of Capoeira, it’s songs.

 

MAIOR E DEUS


Maior é Deus
Maior é Deus
Pequeno sou eu
O que eu tenho
foi Deus que me deu
O que eu tenho
foi Deus que me deu
Na roda da capoeira(HAHA)
Grande e pequeno sou eu 

~MESTRE PASTINHA

Hello everyone,

on the LAST PAGE, we took a look at why we have music in capoeira, and how it affects us in general. Now, I want to take us a little deeper, and showcase another aspect of Capoeira that affects us, and what we capoeiristas draw strength, and much wisdom from.

And that of course, are the SONGS of capoeira.

THE SONGS

Understanding songs in capoeira is a good way to grasp and put into some historical context early Brazilian life and history. If one can identify with the music on a personal level, it goes a long way in adopting the heritage vital in the maintenance of capoeira as a cultural force. The songs of capoeira partly play the role of cultural guide and teacher.

Many of the songs are sung in a call and response format while others are in the form of a narrative. Capoeiristas sing about a wide variety of subjects. Some songs are about history or stories of famous capoeiristas. Other songs attempt to inspire players to play better. Some songs are about what is going on within the roda. Sometimes the songs are about life or love lost. Others have lighthearted and playful lyrics.

Capoeira songs can talk about basically anything, whether it’s about a historical fact, a famous capoeirista, trivial life facts, hidden messages for players, anything. Improvisation is very important also, while singing a song the main singer can change the music’s lyrics, telling something that’s happening in or outside the roda.

There are three basic kinds of songs in capoeira angola, the Ladaínha, Louvacao, and the Corrido.

THE LADAINHA

The roda begins with the LADAINHA (litany), a solo often sung by the most senior member present, usually the one playing lead berimbau.

Now although the ladainha is often thought of as from capoeira angola, the tradition actually predates the 20th Century, and therefore the stratification of Capoeira.

And also, Mestre Pastinha used to use SEXTETOS (compositions of six verses) to open his rodas.

The Ladainha may be improvised on the spot, but are most often chosen from a canon of extant ladainhas. The ladainha varies in from as little as two lines, to 20 or more. Topics for this song type include moral lessons, stories, history, mythology, can be topical for a particular occasion as well as pure poetry, and almost always metaphorical. The song is loosely strophic and the melody is pretty much the same throughout the entire ladainha repertoire, with some variations here and there. The ladainha uses quatrain form as a template, with the first line almost always repeated.

Here’s Some Examples: 

 

ANGOLEIRO – MESTRE JOÃO PEQUENO

Deus não deu inteligência ao lobo

Nem cobra pode voar

Que vale esse corpo todo

Mas sem cabeça pra pensar

Se ser forte fosse vantagem

Ter grande corpo documento

Seu Pastinha não existia

Tava no desconhecimento

Mas toda roda tem um brabo

Isso não dá pra negar

Que pensa que a valentia

É ter vontade de brigar

se valentia fosse coragem

Invés do corpo usasse a mente

Tu virarias angoleiro

E de Pastinha, a semente

Aruende

 

A HISTÓRIA NOS ENGANA – MESTRE MORAES

A história nos engana
Diz tudo pelo contrário
Até diz que aboliçâo
Aconteceu no més do maio

A prova dessa mentira
É que da miséria ou não saio
Viva vinte de novembro
Momento para se lembrar

Não vejo no treze de maio
Nada para comemorar
Muitos tempos se passaram
E o negro sempre a lutar

Zumbi é nosso herói
Zumbi é nosso herói, colega velha
Do Palmares foi senhor
Pela causa de homen negro
Foi ele que mais lutou

A pesar de toda luta, colega velha
O negro nâo se libertou, camara

 

NASCI NO MUNDO – MESTRE COBRA MANSA

Nasci no mundo
Dentro dele me crie
Aprendi a Capoeira
Ai meu bem dentro dela eu morreré
Chego na roda
Quando da na cabeçada
Quando da no Capoeira
Ai meu deus arde até no coração
Jogo pra mim
Que eu também quero jogar
Joga para mim eu pego
Vou jogar pra tu pegar
Sou mandingueiro
Menino de Salvador
A Capoeira ja rodou o mundo entrou
Menino não sou de angola
Menino sou mandingueiro

 

THE LOUVACAO

The solo is followed by a louvação, also called a Chula, a call and response pattern that usually thanks God and one’s master, among other things. Each call is usually repeated word-for-word by the responders. This song is a type of song where the solo (call) is larger than the chorus (response), usually eight singer verses for one chorus response, but the proportion may vary.

Iê, Viva meu Deus
Iê, Viva meu Deus, camará
Iê, Viva meu Mestre
Iê, Viva meu Mestre, camará
Iê, quem me ensinou
Iê, quem me ensinou, camará
Iê, a capoeira
Iê, a capoeira, camará
É Água de beber
Iê, Água de beber, camará
É ferro de bater
Iê, ferro de bater, camará

 

THE CORRIDOS

The corridos are overlapping call and response typical of African singing, and influenced by, and borrowing from the Sambas de Roda of Bahia. Unlike the Mexican Corrido which is a form of folk ballad, the Bahian corrido is a short song with a usually static response. The chorus is often indicated by being used as the first line in the song: The Corrido is a song where the singer part and the chorus response are equal, normally two verses by two responses.

Sai, sai, catarina

Sai sai catarina saia do mar
Venha ver idalina

Sai sai catarina

Saia do mar venha ver, venha ver

Sai sai catarina

Oi catarina, venha ver

Sai sai catarina

Sai do mar, venha ver, venha ver

Sai sai catarina

Saia do mar, idalina vem ver

Sai, sai, catarina

 

SIM SIM SIM NÃO NÃO NÃO

Oi sim sim sim
Oi não não não

Oi sim sim sim
Oi não não não

Mas hoje tem amanhã não
Mas hoje tem amanhã não

Oi sim sim sim
Oi não não não

Mas se meu mestre disse que sim
Quero ver quem diz que não

Oi sim sim sim
Oi não não não

Olha a pisada de lampião
Olha a pisada de lampião

Oi sim sim sim
Oi não não não

 

ADÃO ADÃO

Adão adão

Cadê salomé

Adão

Cadê salomé

Adão

foi pra ilha de maré

Adão

Mas cadê salomé

Adão

saiu foi passear

Adão

Oi cadê salomé

Adão

Salomé foi mandingar

 

AVE MARIA MEU DEUS

Ave Maria meu Deus
nunca vi casa nova cair
Nunca vi casa nova cair
nunca vi casa nova cair

Ave Maria meu Deus
nunca vi casa nova cair

Nunca vi casa nova cair
quero ver casa nova cair

Ave Maria meu Deus
nunca vi casa nova cair

Nunca vi Angoleiro cair
Nunca vi Angoleiro cair

Ave Maria meu Deus
nunca vi casa nova cair

 

VOU DIZER A MEU SINHÔ

Vou dizer a meu sinhô
Que a manteiga derramou
E a manteiga não é minha
E a manteiga é de ioiô

Vou dizer a meu sinhô
Que a manteiga derramou

E a manteiga não é minha
E a manteiga é de ioiô

Vou dizer a meu sinhô
Que a manteiga derramou

A manteiga é de ioiô
Caiu na água e se molhou

Vou dizer a meu sinhô
Que a manteiga derramou

A manteiga é do patrão
Caiu no chão e derramou

Vou dizer a meu sinhô
Que a manteiga derramou

A manteiga não é minha
É pra filha de ioiô

THE QUADRAS

If you play Capoeira Regional, or any other school rooted in that style,you will be familiar with another way to start the roda.

An innovation of Mestre Bimba, quadras take the place of the ladainha in some Regional and Contemporânea capoeira schools. They are four, eight, twelve (…) verse songs sung solo followed by the louvação. They were inspired on the Brazilian quadrinhas or quadras populares. A quadrinha is a type of song/poem in Brazilian folclore.  

I’m not gonna go too much into the quadras, since I am a Angoleiro, and I don’t  sing them, or have much experience with them. I only included this section to try to show you the full spectrum of Capoeira music out there.

Here, I’m posting one of Mestre Bimba’s Quadras.

As you can hear, The quadra is usually accompanied by the charanga (1 berimbau and 2 pandeiros, the traditional Regional bateria) playing São Bento Grande de Regional (Of course in his school, Mestre Bimba referred to this toque simply as ‘Sao Bento Grande’).

 


Okay, now I’m show you a couple of video playlists I posted of Angoleiros from older generations and from our current generation.

And Yes, I also posted Mestre Bimba’s album here too. He may not have identified himself as an angoleiro, but he was, and still is, a very important part of the history of capoeira.

Now,  when you play these songs, I hope that you don’t just hear them, but LISTEN to them, with your mind, your heart, your VERY SOUL.

These aren’t just songs that you dance to on the radio. These are life lessons here, transmitting oral history,  wise and witty commentary on how to play capoeira, how to survive, just a whole different way to see the world.

For those of African descent some of the capoeira songs tend to bring forth legacies of trauma to be relived in the present and dealt with in the present, while those of non African descent can relate to either the songs themselves, or relate to the story brought forth by the emotion. Either way the opportunity is always there to heal the trauma learning the lesson and taking it beyond the songs.

Now, if you listen to the second playlist below, you’ll see that these songs didn’t really change. They are for the most part, the same songs that the Velha Guarda (Old Guard) of capoeira Angola masters of the last generation passed down to the old guard of THIS generation.

And, when time passes, The masters who are of this generation will pass this philosophy to future generations. Some things will change, some will stay the same, but capoeira Angola will always remain capoeira Angola.


Now if you haven’t noticed, the lyrics of ALL the albums and songs above are in the PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE. 

Most English language websites about capoeira will translate the songs for you, and sometimes, even post up a few lines to explain the meaning of the song.

Well, I’m not gonna do any of that, primarily because that I feel that it you would search and find the meaning for these songs yourself, it would be much better for you.

Look, there’s a plethora of wisdom and understanding you can gleam from these songs. I CAN tell you the “meaning” of a certain song, but that is only the meaning as I understand it AT THAT POINT IN TIME. As time goes on, I may find a deeper meaning to the song… or YOU will.

That’s right, I said it. You yourself may find some meaning to a certain song that means something to YOU, and may not mean the same thing to someone else. And then later, you may come to understand it at a even DEEPER level.

Remember, In Capoeira Angola, the learning NEVER ENDS.

Besides, Y’all probably didn’t even read or listen through the song section anyway. 

As for the songs being in Portuguese, here’s a concept:

If you don’t speak Portuguese, then why don’t you just LEARN TO SPEAK PORTUGUESE YOURSELF?

Of course, you don’t need to learn Portuguese to learn the movements of the art, or to play an instrument. 

However, Brazilian Portuguese is the lingua franca, if you will, in capoeira. Wherever you may go in the capoeira world, if you speak Portuguese, you can get by. (As a side note, you should also explore YORUBA, KIKONGO, UMBUNDU, and KIMBUNDU as well. You don’t need to, but you should. I think so, anyway.)

Besides, it’s always beneficial for you to know more than one language anyway. You’d be amazed how your perspective, your whole WORLD opens up a bit more.

Anyway, I’ve posted some resources here to help you learn and explore brazilian portuguese.

PORTUGUESEPOD101.COM     – Fast Audio and Video lessons for Fast and Easy learning.

PortuguesePod101.com is an online Portuguese language learning website. You’ll learn to speak, read, write and hear Portuguese. You’ll have fun learning with listeners around the world. Get ready to start speaking Portuguese from the very first lesson!

Visit PortuguesePod101.com/video and sign up for your FREE lifetime account.

DUOLINGO.COM – Duolingo is an American language-learning website and mobile app, as well as a digital language-proficiency assessment exam. The company uses the freemium model; the app and the website are accessible without charge, although Duolingo also offers a premium service for a fee.

Now, those are the only 2 websites that I use to learn Portuguese, so I can’t recommend any others. However, for you capoeiristas out there, I do recommend this book:

Portuguese for Capoeiristas: Master the Basics in 16 Comprehensive Lessons based on Popular Capoeira Songs.

You can find it HERE on AMAZON.COM, and it’s a great way to learn the language through songs that you probably sing everyday, if you’re a Capoeirista.

 
 

NOW, AND IN THE FUTURE…

Okay people, I have to tell you the truth. In this section, I wanted to try and explore what will happen to capoeira music in the future, if it will change, how it will change, etc.

But I can’t think of a damn thing to type.

But what I will do, is show you this video playlist I made, with most of my favorite capoeira songs, some sung with a berimbau, some without. heck, some are not even capoeira songs.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

 

Do any of you Capoeiristas out there have a favorite song? A song which moves your vert soul everytime you hear it? Well, I have 2. the song below is one of my all-time favorite capoeira songs. Even though it was created by the late Capoeira Angola Mestre Moa e Katende, I think it’s a Quadra.

But don’t quote me on that.

My second all time favorite capoeira song is IDALINA, by mestre Felipe do Santa Amaro. You can lisen to it by clicking HERE.
 
 

I titled this page, “THE SOUL OF CAPOEIRA”, because I believe that the songs of capoeira are truly the soul. When at the beginning of every roda, when the players croutch at the bottom of the lead berimbau, and the Mestre yells, “Ieeeeh!”, I believe THAT MOMENT is when capoeira comes alive. And as the cpaoeiristas play, as the musicians play, as everyone, the bateria, all the other players & onlookers sing songs from time immemorial and pass on the timeless wisdom contained within them, you’ll see that Capoeira Angola is a LIVING artform, and you’ll see and feel it’s soul.

 
 
 
 

And now everybody, I have a little something for ya’.

 

PLAYING FOR CHANGE: Connecting the world through Music.
Playing For Change was born in 2002 as a shared vision between co-founders, Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, to hit the streets of America with a mobile recording studio and cameras in search of inspiration and the heartbeat of the people. This musical journey resulted in the award-winning documentary, “A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians.”

No, They’re not capoeira songs and they don’t play capoeira music, but I believe that the people who created this organization have the same soul. Where we capoeiristas connect with each other through music and songs, they do the same thing on a global scale.

It truly is a beautiful thing to see.

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