The 7 Berimbau Toques You Should Know

Galera, O Rei is back with an old blog post of mine that is extremely important. Today I’m  going to talk about the 7 toques (rhythms) of the berimbau you NEED to know. Once you start playing the berimbau, the first question usually is…”What do I play?”.  I’m aiming to alleviate that first question today. Although this is not an in detail description of each, I will go over each.

The first toque you NEED to learn depends on your group and what type of game they most often play. In our group we usually play Sao Bento Grande de Angola. This toque is used for more of an upright game with spinning kicks, take downs, and aerial as well as ground acrobatics. This toque is sung to.

The next rhythm you should know is  Benguela. Benguela is a game invented by Mestre Bimba to calm down heated games between Capoeiristas. When things got too hairy, Mestre Bimba would play this rhythm to slow them down, and make them focus on the strategy and trickiness. This toque is sung to.

The next toque you should learn is Regional de Bimba, also called Sao Bento. This rhythm is main toque that Mestre Bimba would used for training his students. It has sweeps, kicks, counter kicks, acrobatics, and also the reknowned Mestre Bimba Sequences (Sequencias de Ensino de Mestre Bimba). This is a little tricky to play if you’re not used to it, so that’s why I’m going to suggest the following toque first.

Regional de Bimba Contemporenea. This toque is almost identical to the last, only it’s simplified so the beginning berimbau player can practice the rhythm and still be successful. (See the Video Below)

The next rhythm you should know on the berimbau is Angola. Angola is said to be more similar to the original style of Capoeira that freed the slaves and sustained runaway slave colonies known as Quilombos. It is low to the ground, sometimes slower and very ceremonial. It contains a Ladainha, Chula, and Quadra as its structure in being sang to.

You should also know how to play Santa Maria, also known as Pega Laranja no Chao…or Pega laranja no Chao Tico Tico.  This also is a very ceremonial game used by freed slaves to earn money by playing Capoeira for tourists. Thy would ask for a dollar from tourists, put it on the floor, and play Capoeira around it. The first Capoeira to pick up the dollar with their mouth wins. They would feign drama and make the game look very entertaining demonstrating their body control on the floor. This is rhythm is not sang to

The next rhythm you should know is Cavalaria. This was a transitioning toque used to signal the police were coming. As soon as a Capoeira heard this rhythm, they would start dancing Samba de Roda. This toque is not sang to. It is very simple and mimics a siren.

On that note, you should learn Samba de Roda…the dance that hid Capoeira and helped it survive throughout the years of slavery. Of course the slave masters and police knew what they were doing, but slaves and later freed slaves commonly go together in a yard to dance Samba, so it was something a great cover.

So, that’s 8, but only really 7 rhythms because Regional and its simpler version-Regional de Bimba Contemporanea. I hope this blog has been of service to you. Like mentioned earlier, this is not an in detail description of each toque. But if you would like a guide to be more confident and competent in the roda check out my report here.

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