Brazilian Instruments

example with brazilian instruments: Luiz Gonzaga era um famoso sanfoneiro brasileiro!

Hello friends! Our unique blend of cultures has gifted Brazilian music with a variety of rhythms and genres. Today will therefore be all about Brazilian instruments! Did you know that many cultural landmarks rely on iconic instruments? Take capoeira (like the famous capoeira music instrument berimbau, and the capoeira drums), maracatu or the famous Carnaval, to mention just few! Percussion tends to be very presents in maracatu, where staples include the Brazilian tambourine and the cuica. For authentic samba music, drums, viola and cavaquinho are a must. Let’s learn more about these traditional musical instruments in Portuguese, but also some classical instruments that are more common in other countries!

The Musical Instruments in Portuguese

example for brazilian instruments: As baterias das Escolas de Samba são famosas por seus instrumentos variados!

We have listed below some classical instruments that most countries have, but also some characteristic Brazilian instruments that you can only find here and in a few other places! Let’s take a look!

O violãoThe guitar
A violaThe viola
A guitarraThe electric guitar
O baixoThe bass
O violinoThe violin
A bateriaThe drums
O pianoThe piano
O tecladoThe keyboard
A flautaThe flute
O saxofoneThe saxophone
A gaitaThe harmonica
O pandeiroThe tambourine
A sanfonaThe accordion
O berimbauThe berimbau
A cuicaThe cuica
O repiqueThe repique 
O cavaquinho The small guitar
O reco-recoThe reco-reco 
O agogô The agogô
O atabaqueThe atabaque 

The Story Behind Some Brazilian Instruments

example for brazilian instruments: ela toca berimbau muito bem!

Berimbau: the Star of Capoeira

The berimbau, like the reco-reco, originated in Angola. Angolan slaves took this instrument to Brazil, where they began using it in capoeira. Today, berimbau is the star from the Brazilian capoeira instruments.

Reco-reco: The Mix Between Brazil and Angola

Originally, this wooden instrument came from Angola. But in Brazil, people mostly see it in the metal format, and they widely use it in the genres of pagode and samba. Reco-reco can also be found in capoeira roda, which makes it one of the many capoeira music instruments.

example of brazilian instruments: pandeiro.

The Brazilian Tambourine

The Brazilian tambourine is one of the most important Brazilian samba instruments. The tambourine is one of the examples of Brazilian percussion instruments, and it arrived in Brazil in the 19th century. His main contribution is in the choro subgenre, which belongs to samba. The tambourine also takes part with berimbau in capoeira. Hope to see you in the next Pedra do Sal meeting during RioLIVE!, so you can see the tambourine in action!

Agogô: one of Capoeira Instruments

The agogô is also of African origin. It has a metallic appearance, and consists of two metal bells, struck by a rod of the same metal. People use the metal agogô in dances of African origin, in religious meetings of Candomblé, and it is also one of the well-known capoeira musical instruments.

Repique: or Repinique?

Also known as repinique, musicians use the repique as a Brazilian percussion instrument mainly in samba. It also finds widespread use in solos, such as samba introductions and drumming. This instrument represents the traditional Brazilian samba drums! Additionally, you can find the repique as one of maracatu instruments.

Cavaquinho: a Traditional Brazilian Instrument

The cavaquinho, as it is popularly known, was brought to the Portuguese during the colonization of Brazil and is one of the most important traditional Brazilian instruments in our culture. It is mainly present in the rhythms of samba and pagode. The cavaquinho is a star during Samba Day!

A Cuíca: the Maracatu Darling!

The Brazilian instrument cuíca is a very important instrument in Brazilian culture, especially in traditional folk festivals. Like other percussion instruments, it is widely used as one of Maracatu musical instruments.

examples of berimbau and atabaque.

Atabaque: The Sacred Brazilian Instrument

Atabaque is a part of Brazilian percussion. The name originates from Arabic – at-tabaq, meaning “dish”. This traditional Brazilian instrument consists of a cylindrical drum with one end covered in leather, and people play it using their hands or drumsticks. It serves as a capoeira drum, functions as drums in batucada, and holds a sacred role in the Candomblé religion.

The Brazilian Viola

The Brazilian viola is a musical instrument with plucked strings, very popular, especially in the interior of Brazil, being one of the symbols of Brazilian popular music and especially of traditional country music. The viola has characteristics very similar to the guitar. Both in format and in the arrangement of the strings and acoustics, however it is a little smaller.

Sanfona: Part of Caipira Culture

The accordion has several names in Brazil: it is called sanfona, acordeão or even acordeon! This instrument is particularly famous in the northeast of Brazil, where it forms an essential part of local music and culture. Perhaps the rhythm that is most famous for the use of the accordion in Brazil is forró, with important figures such as Luiz Gonzaga. Take an opportunity to learn how to dance forró with us during our RioLIVE!

Let’s Dive in the Pronunciation

Repeat after each instrument! Let’s make this pronunciation as perfect as brazilian drum music!

So what do you think about the musical instruments in Portuguese? Now you know all the Brazilian wind instruments, deeply related to the world-wide known genres of samba and pagode! Even the capoeira instruments like berimbau! Any of them made you want to learn how to play them? Would you rather play the Brazilian viola or sanfona?


Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Dances from Brazil
Famous Brazilian Songs
Samba in Brazil

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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