The Capoeira Blog

Intro to Capoeira Music: Singing
June 11, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: Music, Tips & Guides

“[The singer] ought to emit a feeling of capoeira.” – Mestre Moraes

Photo by pleaseknock (Flickr)

Welcome to the second part of the Introduction to Capoeira Music series, where we will learn a bit more about singing.

Let me begin this post with a preface, something I’ve said many times before: I’m not a very good singer. I have been improving lately, but it still gives me the most trouble of anything in capoeira. There are people out there, people reading and commenting on this blog, who are much more qualified than I to be giving you lessons on singing in capoeira.

But, the point of this series is to introduce you to the world of capoeira music, to give you a bit of background information and something to work on, and I think I can do that. I heartily encourage you to learn all you can from your mestre and more experienced capoeiristas in your group. Those lessons, and the experience that comes from hands on practice, are invaluable.

First, let’s go over the basic types of capoeira songs so we know what we’re dealing with. Songs in capoeira come in a few different forms:

  • Ladainha – a solo sung at the beginning of the roda. The ladainha usually occurs in capoeira angola, but can be found in regional too.
  • Quadra – a four-verse song in the call-and-response style.
  • Corrido – songs with one or two verses that are also answered by the chorus in call-and-response.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of capoeira songs out there. Some are more well known than others, some written by famous mestres, and some written anonymously. Lyrics might be different from group to group, but most of them stay very similar across the capoeira world.

As long as you have a basic understanding of how to sing in capoeira, and you don’t stand there with your mouth slackjawed open not trying, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to follow along.

To get an overview of singing in capoeira, why it is important to participate in the songs, and how to improve your singing, read this guest-post by Patrick. There’s no sense in me repeating everything he already went over in detail, so I’ll just give you some basic points:

  • The roda needs energy. Singing gives the roda its energy, it’s axe. So, SING!
  • Sing all the time. Sing in the car, in the shower, walking down the street, whenever you can. Don’t just sing in the roda.
  • You don’t have to be a good singer to be good at singing in capoeira. What matters is your passion and energy, not your tone.
  • Your singing should come from the stomach; don’t force it from your throat. This will save you from getting a sore throat!
  • Try to learn a bit of Portuguese, or at least learn the meaning of each song you learn, because you’ll be better able to keep up with the singing if you know what the words are.
  • Practice with capoeira CDs and MP3s on your own.
  • For more tips, check out Shayna’s wonderful list of singing tips on responding to the chorus and leading the songs.
  • SING!

So, now that you know why singing is important, you might be wondering how you can get started (especially if you have no one to learn from). Well, fortunately for you I’m psychic, so I’m gonna help you out.

First, check out these top five sites for capoeira song lyrics. Try to find some that you may have heard, or that you have on CD, or that you can find a sample of, and get to practicing! This is another good lyrics site.

Don’t go overboard and try to learn 10 songs at once. It’s just like learning movements; you don’t jump into florieo the first day. Start slow, and you’ll get there in no time.

Some of the best songs to start with are the ones with very simple lyrics, words repeated over and over, or even just sounds and calls. For example,

Oi sim sim sim, Oi não não não
Oi sim sim sim, Oi não não não
Oi não não não, Oi sim sim sim
Oi sim sim sim, Oi não não não
Mas hoje tem, amanha não
Mas hoje tem, amanha não
Oi sim sim sim, Oi não não não
Mas hoje tem, amanha não
Olha a pisada de Lampião
Oi sim sim sim, Oi não não não

Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no
Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no
Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no
Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no
Today you have it, tomorrow you don’t
Today you have it, tomorrow you don’t
Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no
Today you have it, tomorrow you don’t
Look at the footprints of Lampião
Oh yes yes yes, oh no no no

See? Not that hard at all.

Another common song with easy lyrics is usually sung at the end of a roda:

Boa viagem
Adeus, adeus
Boa viagem
Eu vou
Boa viagem
Eu vou, eu vou
Boa viagem

Good bye
Good trip
Good bye, good bye
Good trip
I go
Good trip
I go, I go
Good trip

Now that you have some lyrics under your cord, let’s learn how to sing them.

For a very good intro to singing in capoeira (and another song you can learn), we need look no further than Soul Capoeira. Chan put together a three part tutorial on capoeira singing that I definitely couldn’t have done better myself. Here’s the first video:

And when you’re done with that, learn how to sing accompanied by the pandeiro, and berimbau.

By the way, it is quite difficult at first to get the hang of singing and clapping at the same time (nevermind singing and playing an instrument). Even once you think you’ve got it, you’ll be trying to learn a new song and then your clapping will get all messed up. It happens to everyone. Don’t get down about it. Just practice!

So, there you have it. A little foray into the vast ocean that is singing in capoeira. I hope I’ve given you some good basics to start from. And remember, like all things in capoeira, becoming good at singing takes time, dedication, and practice. You won’t become a pro overnight. But stick to it, and you’ll be sure to bring your axe to the roda!

Be sure to check out Part 3 of this series where we discuss the berimbau.


10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Awesome! I love Soul Capoeira. Chan has some killer moves and songs on his site. The network of Capoeira Blogs and how you all support each other is a testament to how Capoeira should work!

Comment by Pipoca

Love these posts about music, I’ve practiced other martial arts but the music in capoeira just takes it to a whole other level.Happy to see it’s not just me, cos trying to sing paranaue and clap at the same time seemed impossible. Persevere as Faisca says and you do get better (in my case at the pace of a snail, but a small improvement is better than none). Can’t wait for post 3.

Comment by Rowan

Nice article… it gives a great introduction to understand the music in capoeira, especially for beginner. I just want to ask for your permission to post it in my forum? it’s indonesian capoeira forum.

Comment by indo-capoeira

I received my apelido because I was singing (read: trying to sing) during class. I did this to endure the hard training,so I sing to ease the pain.
Afterwards of course people started sayin “ah Cantor, so you must be a great singer?”. So my name brought with it a (fictional) reputation I had to live up to and was peer-pressured into learning how to sing good. Luckily after a while my colleagues followed so I wasn’t the only one learning songs and portuguese.
What I’m trying to say is that it is important that everyone learns how to sing; other people, other songs, more songs, more variety, more fun. Especialy when you learn more portuguese and you go free-styling and start communicating with the people in and round the roda.
Great post!

Comment by Cantor

indo-capoeira, of course you can post it on your forum. Just make sure to give a link back here!

Comment by faisca

Great post Faisca. I will be sure to save the links as great resource sites.

Comment by Mike

[…] Part 2: Singing […]

Pingback by Intro to Capoeira Music: The Basics « The Capoeira Blog

Very good post 🙂 i love the singing in capoeira. Its about giving the energy, never be shy!

and the picture you used, i was at the batizado that picture was taken 😀 lol i think thats mestre tonho materia (spelling?) =]

Comment by Tocador

hey im chelsea and i started capoeira like last year and im 11 i onley speak a lil porch.

Comment by chelsea

my family is saving up so we can go to brazil i cant w8 this music is so wonderful i jus hate flippen ova a man who is 6 foot lol!

Comment by chelsea

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