Monday, January 24, 2011

The Heartbeat of the Roda

Hi everyone!

Guess which instrument I think is the heartbeart of the roda? Yep, it's the atabaque alright, that solid, dignified instrument so dear to my heart =D

For an introduction to the instrument and basic tips on playing it, check out this article written by our own senior, Pek a.k.a Cabure:

Aaaanyway, seems to me that the atabaque is somewhat neglected at times because, of course, everyone bows to the almighty berimbau ;p No complaints in that, but the more I delve into the history and variations, the more fascination I feel for the atabaque.

For one, there is actually a debate on whether the berimbau was used first in the roda, or was it percussion instruments rather similar to the atabaque? Popular notion holds that the berimbau came in first, also bearing in mind that it is much lighter and more portable, hence easier to bring around for rodas. However, looking at the influences surrounding capoeira, in candomble actually there are 3 berimbaus being used. (By the way, just like there are 'gunga', 'medio' and 'viola' for different tone setting of the berimbau, the low tone atabaque is called 'rum', and the high tone called 'le'. The middle tone, 'rumpi', is never used in a roda.)

A video clip showing how an atabaque duet can be:

And another one to show the candomble rhythm:

Ow and the last bit of interesting information... Atabaque and berimbau toques are usually played 4:4 (the rhythm contained in a bar made of 4 beats.. If you really wanna know just ask me next practice), but there is one toque that uses 6:8 beats, which is called toque Cavalaria.. and it is used.. to warn the capoeiristas that the police are approaching!! =D

Hope that can entertain away a bit of the Monday blues! =)



ya_aliph said...

By Mestre Geni and Mestre Luizinho.

The atabaque is the 1st instrument in Capoeira with strong influence from African culture and religion.

The pandeiro came in 2nd with the Spaniards colonising Brazil and thus an addition to the bateria

The berimbau was the last instrument that was added to the practice of Capoeira. The berimbau was used by street peddlers to attract customers.

The only instrument that was "created" in Brazil is the caxixi.

Rosinha said...

Always thought the atabaque wasn't given the credit it deserves. Thanks for yet another interesting post, Shiela! I never knew there were three atabaques used in Candomble before.

I'm wondering, though, why the berimbau is considered the most important instrument in the bateria as compared to the atabaque, if the atabaque is older and has strong African cultural/religious roots?

Is it because the berimbau carries the melody of the roda and sets the jogo in motion, or are there more deeper reasons for it?