Other west African instruments, like balafon, ngoni etc.
By silviuj
whem you hear abut the berimbau you mostly thing at Brazil and capoeira but i think that few know that the berimbau has its origin in the southern parts of Africa and probabily was brought along the slaves as they were deported in brazil,plus the berimbau sounds great and it is easy to construct as well.
Last edited by silviuj on Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
By silviuj
i am about to finish it this week but because i dont have that original cabaca which amplifies the sound i am using a coconut instead which i hope it would do good to
By Garvin
Interesting idea. Let us know how that works out. I would suggest cutting the hole smaller than you think you might need though, unless its a larger coconut. Depending on where you live, there may be farmers with dry gourds laying around for free. What do you use for wire?
By silviuj
i am going at the countryside this weekend and i so hope that i can find a gourd because it would make the sound stronger than a coconut which does not resonate that well
As a wire i use a steel wire from a car tire as the use it back in brazil as well .For that you have ti cut the inner rim of the tire and get the steel string from there
By silviuj
with a delay ,but i took some pictures of the berimbau i've build ,but i still have to wait for the wood to dry because i used a green branch and it is not tuned well with a green branch which does not have the strength to hold the wire tight , waiting hurts :P
By bubudi
nice job! better not to put the strain on it while the wood is green, otherwise your stick may end up too curved. while you're waiting for it to dry, why not make a caxixi (basket). when shopping for a cabaca (gourd), decide first what kind of berimbau you want: gunga (bass), medio (middle) or viola (treble). the more bass, the bigger the cabaca. traditionally all 3 are played together in capoeira angola. in capoeira regional, the medio is usually played by itself. although the variations are played on the medio and viola, the gunga (bass) is considered the mestre's (master) instrument.

i used to play capoeira angola so that's how i learned berimbau. later i found out they had pretty much the same instrument all over africa, in the area stretching from eastern ivory coast to central africa, through to kenya and then all the way down to south africa. also in india. some of the hard core berimbau players keep their dobrao (stone) in a pouch tied around their neck and would have a fit if they saw you leave yours on the ground. it is considered to have a lot of axe (ashe).

pm me with your email address and i'll send you a good book on the berimbau.
By silviuj
thanks ,i think my cabaca is a middle one , but shopping for a gourd in my region is not so simple because people don't grow them any more and its difficult to find one(you have to ask a lot of people),i've searched the entire village,which is a smaller one to find the one i have.In the time i was at my grandparents village i tried to make a caxixi also but it was much more difficult than i thought.I will try to find some techniques and information because it will be great to have one o those also and i dont wanna buy it because i like the D.i.y idea
By bubudi
making a caxixi is easy when you know how. check out this link. if you need any help, just ask. i've made several of these before.

for the seed filling, mestres like to use the ones from the pau tree (caesalpinia echinata) but i find jobs tears (also used by mestres) are much easier to get. they come from a kind of edible grass (croix lacrima-jobi). but any small seeds that are very hard and lightweight are good to use. good luck :wink:
By silviuj
thanks for the link.The first time i tried to make the caxixi i didnt use a ground so it kept foaling apart so i gave up but now i have a better view
By jteskie
I'm not 100% positive, but I believe the Berimbau still has current ancestral roots from the Dodo of West Africa. Martin Zagbo from Ivory Coast, living in Orlando area I think, plays Dodo (he's awesome), and so does Diom de Kossa I believe, out of Norway now (also awesome). The opening frames of this video (linked below) show one being made, and you can hear it being played in the video. It's a little different because Dodo is played up by the mouth and uses the mouth to make the wawa sound differences, and berimbau has the gourd for that, but I think they are cousins if not brothers....

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By e2c
There are musical bows - like the berimbau - in Angola and in much of southern Africa.

Since most people who were taken to Brazil as slaves came from the Congo/Angola region...

(At least, the Brazilians I know of who play and have written about it tend to attribute its origin to Angola - much like the Brazilian martial art capoeira, for which it's used as an accompanying instrument. There's even a style of capoeira called capoeira angola.)
By neuroanimal
jteskie wrote:Martin Zagbo from Ivory Coast, living in Orlando area I think, plays Dodo (he's awesome), and so does Diom de Kossa I believe, out of Norway now (also awesome).
Indeed, Diom de Kossa is a great virtuoso of the Dodo, but also of other musical instruments.
The same with Martin Zagbo. Both are here:
jteskie wrote:I'm not 100% positive, but I believe the Berimbau still has current ancestral roots from the Dodo of West Africa.
There are various types of berimbau or musical bow at all. Dodo is a mouth bow, like mbegn-mbegn or mougongo from Pygmies, while berimbau (berimbau de barriga) is a stomach bow.

About berimbau or rather musical bow: it is one of the oldest musical instruments in human history. It can have even 71 000 - 64 000 of years.
So what of the berimbau types are there?

1) mouth bow (in Brazil called berimbau de boca, name reserved also for jews harp)
- of !Xo Bushmen, Botswana
- mougongo of Babenzele Pygmies, Bwiti religion, Gabon
- ngongo of Akélé Pygmies, Bwiti religion, Gabon
- mbegn-mbegn/mbela of Aka Pygmies, Congo
- chizambe from Gaza, Mozambique
- of Cree Amer-Indian, US
- in fact it existed all over the world (even in my country, Poland)

1') mouth violin

- chinyamazambi from Masvingo, Zimbabwe
- of Asháninca Amazon-Indian, Peru/Brazil

2) ground bow

- of /Khwe Bushmen, Namibia/Botswana
- of Bozo people, Mali

3) stomach bow (in Brazil called berimbau de barriga or just berimbau)

- kalumbu of Ba-Tonga and Ba-Ila from Chitongo, Zambia
- mbirimbau or hungu/ungu of Ambundu, and mburumbumba of Ovimbundu, Angola
- umuduri of Batwa from Rwanda
- ibubura/indono/idono from Burundi
- chitende from Inhambane, Mozambique

3') stomach violin

- tchakare from Niassa, Mozambique

4) there are many more types, you can find publications on the Internet
mostly Pygmies and Bushmen people had huge variety of it (cause they're hunters)
e2c wrote:the Brazilians I know of who play and have written about it tend to attribute its origin to Angola - much like the Brazilian martial art capoeira, for which it's used as an accompanying instrument
In general they are right, because Brazilian berimbau is just an Angolan mbirimbau, gunga is hungu/ungu, caxixi was catxe-catxe, capoeira angola cames from kapwela/ongolo. In old kikongo language Congo means country of the leopard (co+ngo), Angola means stronger than the leopard (ngo+la). Engola in Nyanheca-Nkhumbe languages means zebra, ongolo is a fight, kapwela means a game (like jogo de capoeira in Brazil).
But in fact it is more complicated, as various African cultures were mixed in African ports before embarcement on ships, and they had been furtherly mixed in Americas, also with Amazon-Indian cultures. Nice example is term Caboclo de Aruanda, which means: mixed Amer-Indian from Luanda (capital of Angola, West-Central Africa). Axe force and greeting comes from Yoruba people and their language. Monkey style in capoeira may come from Forest Guinea region of West Africa (Manon people). Corta de capim too from them. Closed body concept came from Nigeria or Ghana/Togo region. Dynamic acrobations may come partially from Eshan people (Nigeria), masters of the Raiz movement, while other may come from Mozambique and from Bakongo people (Congo).
The same with music. There were found in Brazil instruments even with names from African countries, for example umuduri (described above).

In summary, there is no one berimbau, but as always world is more complex :dundun:
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By e2c
Many black Brazilians who gained their freedom both before and after the time of abolition (1888) in Brazil moved to Africa. There was a significant Brazilian presence in Lagos, Nigeria that had an influence on juju music; there are people living in Angola who still speak Brazilian Portuguese and call themselves "Brazilians" (there was a Brazilian TV documentary about them); there's long been an Afro-Brazilian presence in Benin, etc.

Musician Rodrigo Lessa (from Brazil, he plays bandolim - Brazilian mandolin) has spent a lot of time researching various connections between Brazil and Africa and has made 2 albums dedicated to the way there has been continuous interaction between Africa and Brazil for centuries... in musical influences and styles crossing and re-crossing the Atlantic, as well as in his collaboration with contemporary musicians from Portuguese-speaking West African countries.

It might be hard to find his solo albums, but they are well worth looking for. (Notes in Brazilian Portuguese only, though...)