The Roda (or Circle) is controlled by the Berimbau, an ancient instrument of African origin, a single string bow with a gourd resonator that is struck with a stick while the cord is pressured with a rock to produce open and closed tones. The Berimbau produces an eerie and primal sound, and has long been the call of the Capoeirista.
The Berimbau is accompanied by a drum, a pandeiro (tambourine), and other simple percussion instruments. Over this music the Capoeirista sings traditional songs while improvising lyrics to bring the ancient into the present. The call and response chorus and the clapping of those in the roda escalates the energy and reminds one of the ceremonial and working songs of the Diaspora. Capoeira is living folklore.
When Capoeira takes hold of your mind and your spirit, it will be with you always. The sound of the Berimbau will forever bring you back to the great people with whom you played and the games that you have witnes- sed. These games are conversations that represent all of the topics of discourse and of life. They are a give and take, an ebb and flow that produces an embodied dialogue. The young and the old, the happy and the sad converge to play and sometimes to fight. But most of all they come because it has gotten into their blood and it gives back so much more than it takes.
As it was forged in the crucible of slavery and practiced illegally for generations in the Senzalas (Slave Quar- ters) and the slums there remain both the reminder of the brutality of humanity, and also of its ability to pro- duce beauty and art amidst the most troubling and difficult circumstances. We Capoeristas live forever in the shadow of those that struggled so hard to create, nurture and protect Capoeira. We are bound by the obligation to carry on these traditions. One great master, Nestor Capoeira once wrote that, as a Capoeirista, you will never again travel as a tourista, rather, wherever you go in this world you will have the universal brotherhood that Capoeira produces.