The Brazilian berimbau is a single-string percussion instrument, braced musical bow or African origin. It consists of a wooden bow (traditionally made from biribi wood) about 1,2 - 1,5 m long, with a steel string tightly strung and segured from one end of a bow to the other. Beside its close assotiation with capoeira, the berimbau has long been used in a variety of Brazilian folk and popular music forms, such as samba de roda, carimbo, bossa nova, afro-samba, tropicalsimo, and it's part of Candomble tradition.
In the 1960's, the berimbau began to be heard internationally. Brazilian guitarist Baden Powel brought the berimbau to the attention of the musicians outside Brazil in afro-samba song Berimbau (with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes). Since 1970 several expatriate Brazilian percussionists (as Nana Vasconselos, Airto Moreira and others) have played berimbau with modern jazz musicians worldwide.
The berimbau has become somehow emblematic of Brazilian popular culture and especially of Salvador.
It is a curved bow with a gourd at the bottom and a wire in between the top and the gourd. Players make music from the wire by hitting it with a stick. The musicians tighen or loosen the wire to change the tune. This is used to accompany capoeira.
Berimbaus are interesting instruments of African origin that are used in candomble and capoeira. They have an unusual timbre produced by striking a rod and a ring or coin on a metal string attached to a bow with a resonating dried gourd. It is played together with a caxixi which is shaken while striking the string. You'll see big ones and little souvenir ones being sold all over Salvador, and you will probably hear someone playing the instrument on the streets of Pelourinho.
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