The Brazilian instrument database was put together by interns Catherine (Kate) Mullen and Sari Feinstien, both undergraduates in Ethnomusicology. A great deal of the data came from our larger database we have been building for 20 years, with over 3500 instruments from around the world. A few accent marks have been dropped to enable us to get this mounted easily in html. We welcome any help on making this index better and more complete.


A small Afro-Brazilian metal bell used in syncretic Christian religious ceremonies of Bahia and Recife. The adjá can consist of one, two, three or four clapper bells and is used in Umbanda and Candomblé ceremonies. It is mostly used held against a medium's ear, to facilitate the trance stage. The cable is either made of metal gold, brass or silver


Among the Brazilian Carajá and Savaje Amerindians a simple wind blown pipe/trumpet having a twisted ribbed-or ridged leaf reed. Also the name for a side blown wooden trumpet having a flared bell end piece made from a gourd.



Also known as the pandeiro quadrado, the Iberian double-skinned square, triangle or rectangle shaped frame drum, the adufe is exclusively played by women as a legacy from the medieval period. It has several aspects pertaining to secular, religious and ritual life. In the early Middle Ages, it was one of the more popular instruments used to accompany the Portuguese troubadours. The drum is hand beaten and may have pellet bells attached to the inside.


The adufo is a double-headed frame drum that contains rattles. It is a rural variant of the adufé and pandeiro tamborines. It can also be a variant of the cuica, a friction drum. The adufo accompanies dancers in the fandango dance, used to accent rhythm. In Brazilian folklore, the adufo is an instrument that one of the wise men received from the Virgin Mary, used in announcing the birth of Jesus.


The afofié is a small reed flute that originates in yoruba cultures, among the Bantu. It was used among Afro-Brazilian cultures in Bahia that maintained the Lucumi religion, as well as in candomblé. This instrument is no longer in use today.


The afoxe is both an instrument as well as its own genre of music. Instrumentally, the afoxe is a hollowed out gourd wrapped with beads to create a traditional shaker. It is most commonly seen playing the candomble rhythms in a secular, social setting. Its principal rhythm is known as the ijexa. Afoxe also refers to a genre of Afro-Brazilian music which holds the traditional rhythms of Pernambuco.


Agadavi are African-derived drumsticks used to strike atabaque drums in the Candomblé tradition. Very thin and between 11" and 13" long, they are made of a flexible piece of tree branch, usually guava or strawberry guava. They are used mostly in the repique technique of Candomblé, where agadavi are used instead of open hands. The trio of atabaque drums used in Candomblé (rum, rumpi, and lé) are each struck by agadavi when they are played. However, two sticks are used to drum the rumpi and lé while only one stick is used to drum the largest of the three, the rum. Another variation of the agadavi is the forked agadavi called an agadavi-de-volta. Variant spellings of agadavi also include aguidavi, aguidafi, and ogidavi.

agogô, Ago-go

With Central and West African origins, the agogo is a double cowbell played with either a metal or wooden stick. This idiophone gives purpose to the traditional samba beat, and in Afro-Brazilian Candomble ritual, the agogo plays a syncopated rhythm that holds the polyrhythmic patterns together. It provides the highest pitch of the bateria as well. The two bells are joined on their thin ends by a curved medal rod.


The aiapá is a Brazilian shaker or chocalho (rattle) that is made from gourds filled with fruit seeds and the nails of deer and tapir. It is bound to the leg or ankle of a dancer and shaken in the process of dancing. Other names for this shaker are aiapé, xaorô, zuzá, and urucá.

aidjé, aidye or aige

The aige is a bullroarer that comes from the Bororo Indians in central Brazil. It is a gyrated instrument that makes a buzzing sound when it is rotated. Measuring 30 cm to 150 cm in length, it is wooden and painted with a red pigment topped with detailed decoration done in black resin. The decorations are symbolic of particular totems of certain Bororo clans. The term aige is also the name given to a mythical animal that is said to resemble a type of hippopotamus. The sound of the bullroarer is said to be the voice of the animal. Access to the aige is limited to men; women cannot view the aige for fear of death and are excluded from ceremonies where it is sounded.


One of many variations of the chequeré, a Brazilian rattle.


Brazilian flute.


The apito is a Brazilian end-blown whistle used mostly in samba music. It is most commonly used to play rhythmic patterns, signal directions, and trigger excitement when blown by the bateria's director in an escola de samba. The whistle itself is a common military model made of metals like brass. Older, folk versions of the apito were hand-carved out of wood and made to look like a tongue sticking out. While the sound of the wooden apito is warmer and more similar to a birdcall, the sound of a metal apito is louder and more trill, making it easier for a large ensemble to hear. Apito in Portuguese indicates a holed, whistle flute, which references the holes that an apito has. Located on its sides, the apito has three holes that are covered and uncovered with the fingers to produce different tones. Because it can produce three different tones when the holes on its sides are opened or closed, it is known as the tri-tone whistle. The whistle is capable of producing a variety of tones, including loud and soft, long and short, and open and closed.


Brazilian single headed conical shaped skin covered drum, played with the hands, that looks similar to the Cuban conga drum and prob. of African origin. Played in a set of three sizes: rum, rumpi, and lé. Rum is the largest and dominant drum and played with the hands. Part of the ritual drumming associated with the candomblé religion of Bahia, where it is also known as, ilœ. Drums usually tied with a cloth the color of the diety (orixá) they are honoring. The two smaller drums are played with sticks (agidavis) and are housed in every candomblé house that drummers visit, drumers usually not allowed to cring their own. There are many rituals and ceremonies associated with making and caring for these sacred drums.


Baixo is a Portuguese term for a variety of different stringed bass instruments used in Portugal and Brazil; the term baixo means generally low or deep. The baixo is used in the Portuguese fado genre. One type of baixo is the baixo acústico or contrabaixo. It is an upright string bass, from the violin family of stringed instruments, that originated in Europe around the 15th-16th century. Historically, it had only three strings that were tuned in fourths, but modern versions of this bass have four strings tuned in fourths (to the notes E, A, D, and G) and some models of this bass can have up to six strings. Another type of baixo is the baixo elétrico, otherwise known as the common electric bass guitar, which has four strings tuned like the lower strings on a guitar. It is a relatively new instrument, developed in the 1950s by Leo Fender, and is an attempt to mix the sound of the acoustic bass with the ease of transmission and amplification of the electric guitar. The electric bass has three basic parts: the body, the arm, and hardware, and can have frets or be fretless. It is typically used in popular music. Other types of baixo include the baixo elétrico vertical, an upright electric bass that uses acoustic bass strings and can be played with a bow, and the baixolão, an acoustic bass guitar similar to the Spanish guitarrón that is used in Mariachi groups.

bandolim, banjolim

The bandolim, or banjolim, is the Brazilian/Portuguese version of the mandolin, stemming from the family of lute instruments. It generally has four string pairs, totaling eight strings. The four string pairs are tuned like the four strings of a violin to the notes sol (G), re (D), la (A), and mi (E). It is played with a plectrum, which is a small piece of metal, plastic, bone, etc. that is made to pluck the strings. The modern bandolim is a bandolim portugu&eecirc;s, a hybrid mandolin with Neapolitan tuning, but with the flat back and round body of a Portuguese guitar. Played most commonly as a solo melodic instrument, the bandolim is used widely in refined folklore and urban instrument music, and is known as one of the aristocrats of the popular stringed instruments. The immigration of Europeans by the 18th century to the south and southeast regions of Brazil brought the integration of the bandolim into popular musical traditions. During the 1930s, it was used as an instrument in rhythm sections where virtuosity and improvisation were praised. It then became an essential element in choro ensembles in the 20th century, but is also used in other European-influenced musical forms such as polca, xotis, valsa, maxixe, modinha, and fandango. The most notable bandolim player is Jacob Bittencourt (1918-1969), also known as Jacob de Bandolim, who revolutionized bandolim playing in Brazil.


Bansá is one of the various names for the African derived musical bow in Brazil. A wooden stick is tensioned with one string, and the string is played by rubbing it with a bone or wooden slide. It can also be a rudimentary stringed instrument, usually with four strings, that tops a sound box covered with fur. This instrument, one of the most widely reported and long-lived African instruments in the Americas, gave rise to the modern banjo. The word bansá, alternative spellings including banzá and banza, comes from the convergence of the word bandore and the Kumbundu word mbanza, a combination which comes to mean "stringed musical instrument."


Bapós are a type of handheld shaker, similar to maracas, that originate with the Bororó Indians of Brazil. They are made from gourds containing seeds, each with a small handle attached to the gourd, and are decorated with feathers. Each different color combination of feathers represents the specific clan that the instrument comes from. Bapós are most often played in pairs where both instruments are playing different rhythms. Typically, the bapó held in the right hand moves to a quick rhythm that accompanies each syllable in a song, while the bapó held in the left hand provides the basic rhythm of a song. A smaller version of the bapó is called the bapo-rogu or bapo-rujo.


Baqueta is the Brazilian name for a drumstick used to strike any number of Brazilian membranophones and idiophones. Coming from the latin term "bacus," which means "bat," the baqueta can be made of bone, bamboo, metal, plastic, and any number of other materials. Baquetas come in an endless variety of forms; some forms include baquetas that are rounded at the end, covered by a layer of cloth or animal skin, and even made of a flexible material. Depending on how they are used, they can create different tones. A tough, sharp, aggressive sound can be made as well as soft and sweeping sounds. Baquetas play an important role in playing the berimbau in capoeira music; they strike the wire on the berimbau to create its signature sound. This kind of baqueta can be made of candeia, jandia, or braruna wood, as well as thin bamboo, and is generally around 12" to 16" long and 1/4" in diameter. Baquetas can also be called varetas.


1). West African drum ensemble sacred to the Yoruba people of Nigeria used in the worship of Sango (Shango, Chang-), the God of lightening and thunder. His symbol is the double headed axe, and the batá drums mimic this shape. Drum ensemble consists of five carved wooden drums. The first 3 are double headed and cone-shaped: the Iyá Ilu (mother drum), omele (male drum), and the kudi (small drum). The largest Iyá Ilu drum often has cast brass bells on its body that vibrate as the drum is played. Lower ends of the drums often wrapped in cane. There are also two shallow hemispherical single head drums called the omele ako (male drum) and the emele abo (female drum). 2). Drum and drum ensemble common to Afro-Cuban Santerîa (sometimes called Lecumî, after the language) worship, a new world religion developed by slaves of Yoruban descent. While drums are sacred to Chang-, drum salutes or praise rhythms are a part of honoring the full pantheon of orichas (dieties representing aspects of God), drums wrapped in scarves in the colors of the dieties they honored. Santerîa batá are double headed with a cylindrical shape that narrows at one end, and are placed across the lap and played with the hands. Batá exist in three sizes: the largest called iyá, the short form of "mother" in Yoruba, (also called ôcajaõ by NY Salceros), mid-sized batá called it-tele (or omelé enk-), and the smallest, ok-nkolo (also k-nkolo, oméle or améle). The largest drumhead of each instrument is called the énu (or enœ, "mouth" in Yoruba) and the small, reasonably enough, tcha tchá, (or chachá, "butt" or "anus"). The iyá leads the ensemble, often engaging in a "conversation" with the it-tele. The iyá drumheads are ringed with a string of small brass bells or beads called ichauor- (tchaworo, chaworo or chaguoro), and the énu -end's skin has a ring of clay called idá (or fardela) applied to its surface to dampen overtones and lower the pitch. The iyá is also played standing with a bell laden leather strap slung over the neck. Consecrated batá (a-a, or fundamento) can only be played by male initiates, while unbaptized drums (aberikula) can be played by anyone. Religious instruments are constructed from once living materials, ideally the body carved from a single piece of wood, and tuned by tensioning ropes or rawhide, while commercial instruments can be of fiberglass and have metal tuning lugs. Cuban composer Gilberto Valdés wrote a piece incorporating the drum into secular music in the 1930s. Baté drumming came first to New York in the 50s from Cuba, and the two most accomplished performers were Julio Collazo and Francisco Aguabella. The next contact with a master drummer did not occur until the Mariel immigration in 1980 and the arrival of Orlando Puntilla Rios. Elements of Santerîa drumming are being used more and more frequently by progressive Latin and salsa groups / percussionists, including Irakere, Jerry Gonzalez, Batacumbele and Zaperoko. Originally a male only instrument, modern ensembles also attract female drummers. These drums remain the most important of the Afro-Cuban drums in Cuban music. 3. Black Dance in the United States calls them "omele" and describes the drums as a set of eight used in Shango rituals of Yoruban cults of Brazil, Cuba and Trinidad. 4. A generic name for West African drums and used indiscriminately to describe any Afro-Brazilian drum, but most often the master drum.


The batá-cotó, also spelled batacotô, is an Afro-Brazilian war drum similar to an atabaque. Originating in Africa, it comes from the Yoruban "bàtákoto." In the 19th century, it was used by African rebels in Bahia, but in 1835, when it incited strong rebellious masses culminating in an uprising, the import of the batá-cotó was banned. Batacotô is also the name of a folk music group formed Rio de Janeiro in 1991. Led by drummer Tommy Lee, they focused mostly on an Afro-centric aesthetic.


A bateria, or bateria de samba is a percussion ensemble made up of a large number of different instruments, each played by more than one player. A bateria is also used to accompany the Brazilian martial art, capoeira. Most commonly seen, the bateria is used for large samba street parades (samba batucada) during Carnival. The bateria is known to be loud, and continuously exciting, for sometimes over an hour of straight playing, to keep both the dancers and singers energetic. The membranophones are all played with one stick or hand, with the exception of the tarol, while the other hand holds, muffles, or changes the tension of the head. The idiophones are all played with one stick, or shaken. The larger drums, are usually the drums with the simpler rhythmic patterns. Most patterns amongst the ensemble are fixed, although some are improvisatory. Sometimes select groups within the ensemble will be chosen to play alone, for a textural contrast. Pattern changes are signaled by the apito whistle, played by the percussion master (mestra de bateria).


The term batuque is used as a generic term to describe any Afro-Brazilian dance music that include a strong percussive component. Popular among the Bantu slaves in the early 18th century, some go as far to state batuque as a wrestling match played to capoiera music. "The colonialists labeled every loud noise the blacks made a batuque." Mostly described as a dance form, batuque consists of both men and women usually in a circular or row form, with the climax of a solo performer supported by the other dancers supporting with choral chants and rhythmic hand-clapping. Dance moves are extremely sexual. In Rio de Janiero, the urban environments adapted the term batucada for percussive dance music of the large baterias from the samba schools. It is said that samba derived from the traditional batuques.


The bellzoukie is a twelve-stringed guitar most commonly used in Brazilian Bossa Nova and other types of popular music. It has a pear-shaped body and scroll-shaped styling, and its sound is bright, ringing, and cutting. The way this instrument is tuned set the standard for twelve-stringed tuning; the lower four strings are doubled with strings an octave higher. The bellzoukie was the first mass-produced twelve-stringed guitar, released by Danelectro in 1961. It was created from the plans of New York session guitarist, Vincent Bell. The name "bellzoukie" stems from "bouzouki," a lute-like instrument with origins in Greek folk music.

berimbau or berimbaude barriga

Typically present in the capoeria genre, Berimbau de barriga (literal translation means, "belly bow") is considered one of the national symbols of Brazil. It emerged in the early 1800s as black street vendors and beggars (originally from the Congo-Angolan region of Africa) commonly played the instrument until the abolition of slavery in 1888. The berimbau consists of an arco (wooden bow) and a corda (taut steel string) and a hollowed out cabaca (calabash resonance gourd). When held, the left thumb and index finger hold an object that can raise or alter the timbre of the fundamental pitch (created by the tuning loop). This can be either a large dobrao or moeda (metal coin) or pedra (stone). The right hand then secures the long, thing baqueta (wooden stick) held between the thumb, index and middle fingers. Around the middle and ring fingers is the caxixi (basket rattle) often filled with seeds or beans. There is a berimbau gunga which plays the principal rhythmic pattern in the lowest register, a berimbau medio that complements the gunga, and a berimbau viola which plays variations on the basic rhythm in the highest register. The berimbau also plays a role in Candomble rituals.


The berra-boi is a gyrated percussion instrument, meaning it produces a buzzing sound when rotated. It is made by filling a piece of hollow wood with seed. Berra- boi is also used as a term for the berimbau gunga, the lowest tone produced from a berimbau.

bombo, bumbo

The bombo is a cylindrical membranophone that is the largest of the Brazilian bass drums, similar to a zabumba or a surdo. It has a double-headed frame and makes a very deep, loud sound. Played with either sticks or a muffled beater, it is traditionally made from a hollowed out tree trunk that is crafted by burning coals and chiseling out the inside. The two heads of the drum are made of cowhide or lambskin that may still retain some of the animal's fur, muffling the sound of the drum. Today, the bombo can also be made generally from any wood that is cut or bent into a cylindrical shape. It is tuned by adjusting a movable hoop through leather thongs that are connected to both of the drum's rims. The bombo is held under the left arm and supported by a leather strap that is slung around the shoulder. The left hand hits the rim with a short stick, which produces a wooden clicking sound, and the right hand holds a leather-tipped beater that hits the center of the drum as well as the rim. Used in many types of folkloric music and at folk celebrations in areas of Brazil like Bahia, the bombo is also used in popular dance music styles, like samba. The bombo typically plays an ostinato pattern, accenting the "and" of beat two in each measure. This accented note is called the bombo note. Common in most of Latin America, the bombo was introduced to Brazil by the Spanish and Portuguese. Its other manifestations include the bombo criollo, a narrow, tuneable, two-headed military drum that is used in Havana Carnival music and is played with one mallet and one bare hand.


Amazonian Amerindian small flute from Brazil.

braguinha, machete de braga, machete or machette

A small (8ó body) metal stringed (four strings) wooden box guitar of Portugal and the Azores, most notably Madeira, tuned in 5ths. Also found in Brazil, having four strings, often identical to the cavaquinho. See Cavaquinho


A small flute from Brazil.


A Brazilian hunting whistle made from just about anything, including bone, wood or reed.


The buttori is a percussive instrument used in the dances of the Amerindian Bororó people of the Mato Grosso state. Made of deer hoofs or the nails of wild pigs, this instrument is attached to the feet, making a noise similar to that of castanets. In the Bororó language, -ri is a common suffix. The term "buttori" likely has some connection with the word "buttu," which means to give birth, but may also be connected to a very similar Bororó word, "butto," which means to set in connection with the sun and the moon. Because the type of dance the buttori is used in is unknown, the root meaning of the term may give some insight into its purpose.


A cruciform Brazilian rattle.


A deep, military style snare drum, that gives samba its distinctive swing feeling. The Brazilian snares give the caixa a drier tone compared to a typical marching drum. The caixa is responsible for playing the call in most maracatu pieces. During Samba- Afro, the caixa plays similarly to a reggae guitar, accenting eighth note off beats, and adding a slight buzz on the first of the two off beats.


The caixeta is the Brazilian equivalent of an idiophonic wood block. It is composed of a rectangular piece of wood with a slit that runs lengthwise along the side, creating a sound chamber, and is played by striking mallets or sticks against the body. It is used in many different types of Brazilian music including choro, samba, and balaó. A caixeta is also a type of brazilian tree, for which the instrument may be named.


A Brazilian box-shaped rattle.


The camisão is a large, one-headed Brazilian box drum, typically used in voodoo processions or during Carnival. This membranophone is made by stretching a piece of goatskin over a square frame. Once used by famed Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, this drum is played either with the hands or with a leather strap or whip.


A Brazilian folk scraper. See reco-reco.


The caracará is a Brazilian folk trumpet known to imitate the call of the falcon-like caracará bird.


Can be a hand held Brazilian shaker or scraper (idiophone). The cabocolinhos of northeastern Brazil use this scraper during the autos of the caboclos. See reco-reco.


The carimbó is a Afro-Brazilian drum made by hollowing out a tree trunk and covering it with deer skin. It is quite large, measuring up to 1 meter tall. The term carimbó can also refer to a 2/4 rhythm circle dance originating in the Amazonian state of Pará, near Belém. (no additional information found)


The catacá is an idiophonic wood block and scraper pair, similar to the reco-reco. Made of bamboo, wood, gourd or bone, one piece is a smooth wood block while the other is ribbed. To mark time, the player scrapes the notched side at whatever tempo is desired. It is unknown whether this Brazilian version of the instrument is of African or Portuguese origin, because it is an instrument often found in many countries all over the world. It can also be called a querequexé.


No additional information found.


The cavaca is a small four-stringed instrument from Brazil. It is similar to a guitar. (no additional info found)


The cavaquinho, also known as braguinho, machete and cavaco, is a 4-string steel relative of the ukelele. The Brazilian cavaquinho is most commonly tuned D-G-B-D (from low to high) for most samba and other folk/popular music styles. The Brazilian cavaquinho's neck is slightly elevated in relation to its body, and has the most commonly seen, round sound hole. It is mostly heard playing rhythmic-harmonic accompaniment, with a pick, performing advanced percussive strumming techniques.


A large Brazilian drum of mixed African and Brazilian origin, the caxambœ is used to accompany a dance of the same name, similar to the samba. It is described by Villa-Lobos as "a bottle fixed with gravel and shaken to produce a rattling noise," and can also be played with the flat and heel of the palm. It is the deeper of the two drums used to accompany the caxambœ dance, the smaller being called a "candonguero." The dance it lends its name to is part of a group of theatrical presentations called "moçambiques." It is named so because it was performed by slaves of Mozambique who were brought to Brazil to work in the gold mining regions. In the dance, musicians sat on one side of a bonfire while elders, thought of as the connection to Africa, sat on the other side. The caxambœ is thought to be a variation of the jongo dance common in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, which was also danced around a bonfire. Also caxambu and cacumbú.


The caxixi is a small Brazilian shaker (typically around 6 inches long and 3 inches in diameter) that is made from a woven wicker basket filled with seeds, stones, or beads with a base made from a gourd. It can be shaken from side-to-side or top-to-bottom, producing different sounds depending on how it is used. When the filling hits the hard surface at the base of the shaker a bright, dry sound is produced and amplified by the gourd, but when the filling strikes the basketwork it creates a softer sound. Modern versions are made with fiber-glass bases instead of gourds, and use plastic beads instead of seeds, producing a much sharper sound. The instrument comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes, ranging from small to large, and always has a small handle attached to the top. The caxixi is most often used to accompany capoeira ritual and candomblé religious music. It is an accompanying instrument to the berimbau, a musical bow that creates a wah-wah sound when struck. The caxixi is held in the same hand as the baqueta, the stick that strikes the wire on the berimbau, and is placed around the middle and ring fingers. The action of striking the wire with the baqueta consequently shakes the caxixi, producing an accent. Commonly found in the state of Bahia in Brazil, the caxixi is thought to be of Bantu origins, brought to Brazil by slaves coming from Angola and Zaire. African caxixi are generally larger then Brazilian caxixi. They, too, come in varying sizes, ranging from small to large, but use two distinct fillers. One kind of African caxixi uses small seeds as a filler while another uses large pearls. These two distinct fillers create unique sounds. African caxixi can be played more than one at a time, combining different sizes and shaking patterns to create rhythmic patterns.

chocalho or cholaho

A shaker of wood or metal in the shape of two cones, uniting at the base. Also spelled "xocalho," it is an Angolan shaker made of either many small cymbal like metal pieces or large metal cans filled with rocks, sand or other materials.


The côcho, more commonly known as the viola de cocho, is a small stringed instrument, similar to a guitar or lute, from the state of Mato Grasso in Brazil. It is one of the most common chordophones in use in Brazil. Approximately 70 centimeters long, the body of the instrument is dug out of a single trunk of soft wood and then covered with a thin layer of wood. It usually has five strings that, when plucked or strummed, produce a deep, hollow sound that is more percussive than harmonic. This instrument can also have a few sound holes or no sound holes at all. Traditionally, the côcho was constructed using a glue-like substance made from extractions from the lungs of carious fish while the strings were made from animal guts. Modern versions of this instrument instead use glue and nylon, but still use the hollowed out trunk of a tree as a base. It is one of at least three types of viola found in Brazil, also including the viola caipira, an hourglass-shaped instrument of a smaller size with metal strings and a piercing tone, and the viola nordestina, a metal-stringed gentle instrument about the size of a guitar. In rural areas, the côcho is used to accompany the siriri dance. This dance, which finds its origins in indigenous heritage, is done by men, women, and children, focusing prominently on the exchanging of couples, although there is no set choreography. The music that the côcho plays as accompaniment is simple and cheerful, expressing themes of the simple things in the everyday lives of the rural peoples. The côcho is also rarely used in música caipira, which translates as "hillbilly music."


The cucumbi is both an Afro-Brazilian drum and a dance form, originating in Bahia. The folk-dance is a reenactment of the fighting that occurred between the Indians and the Africans during colonial times. Some identify cucumbi as an Afro-Brazilian pantomime. The drum version is used in this ceremony and in Taieiras.

cuîca or cueca

The cuica (also known as puita, bor or onca) is an unusual friction drum with Central African origins. With a single animal-skin head, about 6-10 inches in diameter, the drummer holds the cuica under his/her arm using the help of a shoulder strap. A bamboo stick is attached perpendicularly to the drum head, extending into the drum . The drummer uses a wet cloth and rubs the stick up and down with one hand, and uses the other hand to add pressure on the animal skin, altering the pitch. The cuica has a high-pitched whining-like timbre giving it also the nickname of a "laughing gourd." It is most commonly seen in street samba, but is also found in many other Brazilian musics.


The curugœ is a Brazilian Amerindian drum once used by the Guaraní indians of southern Brazil. Still used in Paraguay today, It is described as large in size and ghastly and grim in sound. Also, curugu.


The curuqué is a type of Brazilian folk trumpet.


The frigideira is a metal, one-egg frying pan, 5 inches in diameter that is played with a metal rod, 3/16 in thick and 6 in long. The drummer's left hand "muffles" the inside with their middle finger. Their right hand plays with the metal rod on the "fire-side" of the pan. Stopped strokes, edge strokes and middle strokes are most commonly heard along with rapid tremolos that occur from the left wrist rotating.


See cuica.

gaita de foles

In Brazil an accordion, on Cape Verde, a concertina / two-row button accordion. In the rural Trás-os-Montes region of Portugal, a double reeded bagpipe, usually played as a solo melody instrument, each tuned with its own version of an untempered scale.

gaita ponto

The gaita ponto is a type of concertina with a 'keyboard' of buttons, as opposed to an actual keyboard, that comes from the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. It is an aerophonic instrument that combines the bandoneon and the accordion to create a hybrid instrument. Most often used in gaucho music in southern Brazil, it was played famously by gaucho musician Renato Borghetti.


The ganzá is an idiophonic metal shaker popular in Brazil. It is traditionally made in the form of a rattle with a metal container, which comes in a variety of shapes (including cylindrical, conical, and square) and has a handle. Modern ones can have between one and three containers, where each container is a closed cylinder made of metal with sand inside. Ganzás can even be homemade using industrial food or drink cans as containers. The modern cylinders vary dimensionally, but are typically between 2" and 4" in diameter and 5" and 18" in length. Played by shaking in one hand at shoulder height, the ganzá usually plays the subdivisions of each bar in 2/4 and 4/4 time and follows the beat of the atabaque drum in an ensemble. It is used mostly in samba and choro music in Brazil, and is especially prominent in the state of Bahia where it is known by numerous variant names including amel&eecirc;, querequexé, and canzá. The ganzá has African origins, its name coming from the African "quimbundo" and "nganza," terms meaning gourds that contained beads and seeds. A ganzá can also be a scraper that is similar to the reco-reco. In this form it is a rectangular, box-like structure, with one open side, made of wood with dimensions of 4" by 6". Inside are flattened bottle caps, made to form a column. Its edges are used as a jagged surface and scraped with a metal stick. In a third form, the ganzá can be a metal or wooden square with small cymbals attached.


Originally from the Dagomba region of Ghana, the gongon is a large, tom-tom drum often paired with the dondon (talking drum). The gongon is very versatile producing a deep tone and it can also create the rattle-like sound of a snare drum because a snare string stretches across the upper part of the face of the drum. Both drumheads are laced with heavy strings of cowhide. The gongon is held like a dondon, hanging from one shoulder with the drummers' arm resting so that his hand extends over the edge, fingers laying on the skin. Sticks are used with a bell-shaped knob at the end and muting does occur on occasion. Played along the upper edge of the head with both hand and stick, the gongon produces a higher pitched buzzing sound. Pressing one's fingers against the skin alters the quality of the main beats. The gongon is played in a wrist-flicking motion.


The guarará is a Brazililan shaker, similar to the chocalho, that is made of tiny gourds and bones and used by attaching it to the ankles. It is common among Indians of Marajó Island at the mouth of the Amazon River in the state of Pará. It can also be similar to the reco-reco, a type of scraper made from a ridged surface, played by scraping a stick across that surface.


In Brazil, the term guitarra can describe any kind of electric guitar. Electric guitars are often used in bossa nova and many other forms of popular music in Brazil. In Portugal, the guitarra is an 8-, 10-, or 12-stringed mandolin-like guitar that is about 1/3 the size of a Spanish guitar. It is the major accompanying instrument in the fado genre, along with the viola. In Spanish America the guitarra is an acoustic six string guitar. Variations on this basic guitar include the 4-, 8-, and 10-stringed cuatro and the three-stringed tiple.

guitarra bahiana

The guitarra bahiana is a small electric guitar, more similar to an electric mandolin. It is well known as a member of the trio elétrico, an ensemble that performs in Carnival settings, invented by Dôdo and Osmar in Salvador, Bahia in 1947. The trio is made up of treble, tenor, and bass guitars, which are the guitarra baiana, triolim, and pau-elétrico, respectively. The ensemble is also backed by a small group of percussion instruments consisting of cymbals, snare drum, zabumba, and surdo. Modern frevo in Bahia also incorporates merengue, rock, and ijexá. This group of musicians plays exclusively a style of fast, syncopated Carnival music called frevo. Osmar's son, Armandinho, is a famous player of the guitarra baiana and is even said to have created the modern design for the guitarra baiana.


The hait-teatçu is a Brazilian disc-shaped nose flute.


The herá-herajun is a Brazilian Amerindian transverse flute.


The hezó-hezó is a long trumpet of Brazilian-Amerindian origin. The end bell of the trumpet is made from a calabash.


The hu, more commonly known as the rum, is the largest and lowest in the group of three atabaque drums used in northern Brazilian candomblé, also including the mid-sized rumpi and small lé. It is a conga-like instrument with animal skins that plays the leading role in the drum trio, acting as a soloist and musically organizing choreography. It is also similar to the ilu, a large double-headed cylinder drum of African origin common in Northeastern Brazil.


The hunpri, more commonly referred to as the rumpi, is the mid-sized drum in the trio of atabaque drums used in the Candomblé religion in the northern state of Bahia in Brazil. The other two members include the large rum and the small lé. It is a conga-like instrument with animal skins that is typically responsible for steady patterns and is played with sticks. All three of these atabaque drums are typically painted to match the colors of the main god of the Candomblé house.


The ika is the large, wooden folk trumpet attributed to the Bororó Amerindians in Brazil. It has a very low, bass tone.


The ilu is a large, wooden, membranophonic, Afro-Brazilian drum. It is a double-headed cylinder drum of a large diameter with thick goatskin heads that is played exclusively with the hands. Today, it is constructed out of a plywood shell with metal rims, and long metal bolts are used to tighten the skins. This method of constructing the drum replaced an older method in which a solid wood or barrel construction was used along with roped tensioning for the skins. In Recife, located in the Northeastern region of Brazil, it is a member of a set of drums used in the Candomblé and Jurema religions, along with an agogô (single or double bell) and an agbe (beaded gourd). Similarly to the atabaque, the ilu is comprised of a set of small, medium, and large drums (the melê, melê-ankó, and ilu inh , respectively).


The ka is a hollow, barrel-shaped drum of the membranophone family, usually made from a barrel, that is covered at one end with a female goatskin, tightly fastened by a cord, which goes around the edge of the drum's body. Held between the legs of a performer in a sitting position, it is often played with the performer's bare hands, but can also be played by hitting tibwa (a pair of sticks) against the rim of the drum. Originating in the Caribbean, in Saint Lucia and Martinique, this drum accompanies a variety of different folk song traditions and occasions. It is used in jwé (play-song-dance activities), as well as in the chanté isay (work songs used to accompany woodsawing) and other events such as wakes. Each of the songs that the ka accompanies are performed by a song-leader and incorporate call-and-response techniques. In the chanté isay a special playing technique is used, in which the player lays the drum on the ground, sits on the barrel, and drums on the single skin using his bare hands. The term ka was once used by L. Hearn to describe a log or solid wood drum (goombay) that was played by Black slaves in the West Indies in his memoir, Two Years in the French West Indies. Use of the ka was revitalized in the 1980s in misik chouval bwa ("wooden horse" or "merry-go-round" music) after fizzling out in the mid-twentieth century. Misik chouval bwa also features a djembe drum, a bass, a bamboo flute, and tibwa.


See toré.


Brazilian Amerindian single toned folk trumpet, similar to a toré. See toré.


The kinfwiti is a Congolese version of the Brazilian friction drum, the cuica. It is a small, hollow wooden drum with a skin head and an open bottom end where a chord is attached and pulled to alter the tonality. In Africa, the kinfwiti is used mainly for rituals and symbolizations of the dead and/or certain jungle animals. The kinfwiti is Brazil is used for carnival purposes.

The lé is a small Afro-Brazilian drum, popular mostly in Candomblé rituals. It is the smallest of the three types of atabaque drums that are a part of Camdomblé, the others being the large rum and the medium-sized rumpi. In this group of drums, the lé is responsible for playing steady patterns. It is played with two hands, two sticks, or with a one stick/one hand combination depending on what rhythm is being played. In Candomblé, the lé and its fellow atabaque drums call down the Orixás and aim to connect living people with living spirit through rhythms. Playing this drum also has an explicit relationship with Africa and the Afrobrazilian identity. Although traditionally used only in Candomblé, the lé is now included in some kinds of contemporary music styles in the north of Brazil.


The loku is a Brazilian folk flute, similar to the adjulona.


A small four stringed wooden box guitar from Brazil. Diminuative of the machete? see cavaquinho


The matraca is a ratchet-like idiophone made from wood. There is a wooden handle with two cogs attached to the top, and a frame that is attached to the side, resembling a flag. At the opposite end, two blades are attached. When rotated or twirled, the blades scratch the cogs creating a rattle, clattering sound. The sound is equivalent to scraping against a notched surface.


Matungo is a black Brazilian term for a set of bells that are formed from iron bars of different hefts and lengths. These bells were once used in the state of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil. A different kind of matungo are also used in the Moçambique dance, an elaborate dance that uses symbolic fighting, singing, and instrument playing. Although the origin of this dance is obscure, it is known for the two unusual instruments it employs: a set of wooden sticks called bastões or paus that mark rhythm, and matungo, more often called paiá, which could be a set of brass bells attached to a shoulder-strap or small cylindrical tubes containing little stones that tie to the legs or feet. In the context of the Moçambique dance, matungo may also be called macquaias, coguinho, or coquinho.


Megaló is the Brazilian term for any kind of bull-roarer or thunder-stick.


Memby is the generic Amerindian term for pan pipes or flutes used by the Guarani in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Parna, as well as in Paraguay. Made by connecting vertical flutes with strong hoops or cords, these pan pipes are often composed of grooved pieces of wood or sugar cane. When played together, the flutes are calculated to produce perfect fifths and octaves. Depending on the size, function, and location of the instrument, there are different terms for different types of memby including memby-aparà, memby-chué, memby-guazú, and memby-tararà. Another variety of flute, the membi, is used among the Munduruku tribe in the Amazon river basin. Unlike the Guarani instrument made up of multiple verticle flutes, this membi is a single bamboo flute about 88 x 8 cm long with three finger holes.


The pandeiro is a Brazilian tambourine (single-headed frame drum with metal jingles). The versatility is endless giving the pandeiro its nickname, "bateria no bolso" or "drumset in a bag." It is open to virtuosic techniques executing the thumb, fingers and palm. There are also a wide range of timbres accompanying bass, mid-range and treble tones. The pandeiro is unique because it is not associated exclusively with just one segment of the Brazilian population. It is used to accompany dramatic dances and devotional traditions of all kinds. It is not controlled by formal instruction nor restricted by religious orthodoxy. In the late 19th and 20th century, the pandeiro players began to activate a hybrid artistic effect that characterized urban areas in Brazil, including the infamous Carnaval. The pandeiro is also used for acrobatic purposes, spinning and throwing the instrument through the air, adding a visual aspect to performances.

pîfano or pîfaro

Originally from the Northeast, the pifaro is a 6-stop transverse flute used in Brazilian forms of "fife and drum" ensembles known as bandas de pifanos. The bandas de pifanos consist of two flutes, two or three drums and cymbals or a triangle. The pifaro is traditionally made of bamboo (PVC today) and was probably derived from a combination of Amerindian, Iberian and African heritage. It is limited to a diatonic scale.


Pratos is the Brazilian/Portuguese term for cymbals. They are commonly used to accentuate downbeats, with occasional syncopation. In zabumba ensembles, pratos play on the beat while a tarol plays a continuous rhythmic pattern. These crash cymbals have two different sizes; the larger, lead prato is 12 inches in diameter while the smaller, second prato is 10 inches in diameter. In addition to only making crash sounds, pratos can make stopped sounds and tremolos when two of them are rattled together. In English, prato means plate. Prato de louça are ribbed dishware rubbed with a knife or any metal blade or coin. This type of prato was used by famed Brazilian musician and composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos.


Brazilian friction drum. See cuica.


The rabeca is a Portugese folk-like fiddle, found most commonly in the Recife region. It has four strings, tuned in fifths with a neck slightly shorter than a violin's, supported by the player's chest. Rabeca Forro is a fusion of two music styles, where the rabeca is played in a more rhythmically active style compared to the local forro style.

ravé or rawé

The ravé is a Guaraní folk fiddle similar to the rabeca. It is known for its distinctive pear-shaped body and most probably originated in the Byzantine Empire. Also rawé, rabé.


The rebolo is a wooden Brazilian drum used in pagode samba music, along with the tantã (or tan tan), repique de mão and banjo. It is a one-skinned drum that is usually about 12 inches in diameter and has a tapered body. Played only with the hands, it is used for musical accompaniment and plays offbeat rhythms in the ensemble. It is shorter, smaller, and higher in pitch than the tantã, which is regarded as one of the lowest pitched of the hand drums in the pagode ensemble. Often both the term rebolo and the rebolo drum itself are used interchangeably with the tantã. When the tantã and rebolo are being played concurrently, the tantã accents the downbeat and basic rhythmic patterns.

reco-reco, rico-rico, Reque-reque

The reco-reco is a Brazilian notched bamboo or metal percussion instrument that belongs to the idiophone family. The modern version is made of three threaded or notched rods attached to a wooden board. A rhythmical sound is made by scraping a stick over the notches. Similar to the common Latin-American güiro, the reco-reco is believed to be of native Amerindian derivation, but is also common in Portuguese folk music.

repique or Repinique or repique-de-mão

The repique is a small, high-pitched, two-headed drum used in samba schools and blocos afro Carnival performing groups. It is approximately 12 inches in length and diameter and tightly tuned. When played, techniques include rimshots, left-hand muffling, one-stick buzz rolls, single-hand stick tremolos and open and stopped sounds. Most commonly it is played with a stick and hand technique, with a stick resembling that of a 7A snare drumstick. But in samba afro and five surdo ensembles, the repique is played using two thin sticks called aguidavi. The timbre created using the aguidavi resembles the sound of atabaque drums in Candomble. In a five surdo ensemble, the repique has one hand playing heavy accents while the other lightly fills in, creating a quarter note triplet effect, resolved by the response from the rest of the ensemble.


Sambuca is an archaic term used to describe any kind of Brazilian stringed instrument. However, the origins of the term are not Brazilian or Portuguese. First used in ancient Greece and Rome, the term sambuca described a stringed instrument of low status, often associated with banquets and prostitutes, similar to an angle harp. In the middle ages it meant any number of stringed instruments including the harp and the hurdy gurdy, which was also known as a sambuca rotata. In the early 17th century, sambuca meant an enharmonic harpsichord with 17 notes to the octave. The term sambuca is often misinterpreted as an alternate spelling of the term sackbut, which was a bass trumpet with a slide, similar to the modern trombone. This interpretation is incorrect, as the word sambuca actually referred to a triangular instrument with four or more strings that was played with the fingers. The linguistic evolution of the term sambuca clearly shows why it is used to describe any Brazilian stringed instrument.


The sanfona, or acordeão, is a Brazilian diatonic button-accordion typical of the Sertão region. It comes from European tradition, introduced to southern Brazil by Italian immigrants, and plays solo parts and accompaniment in different styles of music in the Northeast and South. The word sanfona comes from the Portuguese word for the hurdy-gurdy. There are many different types of sanfona, ranging from versions with only eight basses to more technically developed ones. It is played in a variety of genres of music, including samba and its rural form, as well as galpão, a type of gaucho dance form in the south, and forró, the urban northeastern-style country dance music. One of the most popular Brazilian sanfona musicians was Luiz Gonzaga, who popularized the sanfona in Rio so that it came to replace the cavaquino or bandolim in many different pieces of music. He also developed an electronic accordion and the "northeastern trio," comprised of the sanfona, triangle, and zabumba (bass drum), which played music of the forró genre.


The surdo is a deep, double-headed bass drum used in various Brazilian styles. It is most commonly a velvet-covered wooden head and is beaten with a soft mallet and an open hand. It is heard accenting the rhythmic syncopation alongside the zabumba drum in the forro music of banda de pifanos. The surdo is also the foundation of the bateria. There are three types of surdo drums heard in the escola baterias. Firstly the marking surdo, which plays the heaviest form on beat 2 of a 2/4 samba, the answering surdo which plays less forcefully on beat one, and the cutting surdo, which is the smallest bass drum that plays on the offbeats.


Tambor is a general term used to describe any kind of lusophone drum, or in this case, any kind of drum used in Brazil.


The tamborim is a high-pitched hand drum made of a circular wooden frame with a piece of hide stretched over one side, used to create counter-rhythms to the lower tones of base-beat drums. Unlike the familiar tambourine, it has no jingles. It is small, only 6-8 inches in diameter with a 2 inch metal shell. It is struck on the rim and skin by a thin wooden stick or the more modern multi-thread nylon beater. It is held with the weak hand at about shoulder height, and struck with the beater in the strong hand. The drum is gripped so that the thumb is holding the rim, with the rest of the fingers curling around and gripping the drum from the inside. An open tone is produced by simply striking the drumhead. The hand holding the drum applies various degrees of pressure to stretch the skin from underneath. This allows for a variety of tones to be produced. Muffled tones are made by pressing the second finger of the weak hand against the underside of the drumhead while striking it with the stick. Strokes are usually short and powerful, aimed slightly off center on the head. Other strokes on the tamborim include stopped strokes and rimshots. The term telecoteco is an onomatopoeia that mimics the sound of a drumstick striking the tamborim; it is also used as a metaphor for a pure, unencumbered samba. Brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, the tamborim has been incorporated in bossa nova and samba styles. João Gilberto used the typical beat of the tamborim in his guitar-playing. This beat consisted of a mixture of down- and upbeats, allowing one to sense a pulse, but taking the accent off of the downbeat.


The tan-tan is a Brazilian conga-like drum, similar to the atabaque, that is used as bass accompaniment in modern pagode samba, the most widespread form of samba in Brazil. It is a tubular-shaped, deep drum that uses a single vinyl drumhead, which eliminates high overtones to produce a pure bass sound. In a pagode ensemble, the tan-tan can replace a surdo. The drum is held horizontally and played by striking the drumhead with one hand and striking the shell with the other hand. It is tuned similarly to the surdo, and has two sizes: a 14" diameter the produces lower pitches, and a 12" diameter that produces higher pitches. When it replaces the surdo in an ensemble, it can be played with a mallet and held in the same position as a surdo. the tan-tan produces two types of tones: open and muted. The open tone is produced by striking the the drumhead with the hand and rebounding the hand to let the sound ring out. The muted tone is produced by firmly striking the center of the drumhead. This muted sound is similar to that of a surdo played sans stick articulations.



The tarol is a high-pitched piccolo snare drum of the membranophone family. This shallow-bodied snare has two-heads and is played with a pair of sticks like a marching drum. It is about 13 or 14 inches in diameter with a 3 and 1/2 inch metal shell. It is of European origin, but is common and popular in the Northeast region of Brazil. It is often simply called a caixa, blending its individual meaning with that of its larger counterpart, the caixa de guerra or "war box." In a zabumba ensemble, the tarol keeps a constant rolling rhythmic pattern; it is played with a strong right-hand accent and a series of left-hand played buzz rolls. To Baianos it is similar to a mini-tambourine.


Teclados are any kind of keyboard instruments found in Brazil, or generally in any place around the world. They have a pedalboard that allows players to select the notes that they want to play. They often consist of a series of chromatic notes, laid out like they are on a common piano, but historically they consisted of a diatonic spread of notes. Although keyboard instruments did originate in Brazil, they are used in many different kinds of Brazilian music. Teclados may include any kind of piano, accordion, or organ.


The timba is a tall, Brazilian drum that is conical, conga-like, and a has a tapered body. It is also commonly referred to as a timbau or timbal. The head of the drum is comprised of a thin, nylon membrane. It can be played in various ways, which include snapping the wrist and forefingers against the drum, as well as striking the center of the drum with a stick. Using rhythms created in the Brazilian state of Bahia, the timba is reminiscent of the atabaque and the West African jembe drum, linking a local Afro-Brazilian heritage and international African drum culture. The timba is used in salsa music, but is also used in timbalada, popular mostly in the 1990s, which blends reggae melodies with complex African drumming rhythms, focusing on the timbre of the timbal. In timbalada, the timba is given a plastic head and special tunings to approximate the percussive sound of blocos afro, Afro-Brazilian Carnaval groups with a focus on social activism.


The toré is a single-toned folk trumpet native to Brazilian, Paraguayan and Guianese Amerindian societies. It is made of cane, bamboo or clay and has no finger holes. It is played in sets and comes in various sizes, all pretty large.


Triângulo is the Portuguese term for the percussive metal triangle, also known as ferrinhos in Brazil. It is a triangle shaped from iron that is played by striking it with a steel stick. To create different tones that vary between clear and muted, the hand holding the triângulo can alternate between grasping and releasing the metal. Brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, the triângulo is found mostly in musics of northeastern Brazil, such as the baião style, a rural and uniquely rhythmic music.


Originally brought to the colonists from Portugal in the 16th century, the viola was the traditional instrument of troubadors. The viola is a ten string guitar, closest related to the Spanish vihuela. In the twentieth century, violas were mass-produced. Those in the Northeast favored the instruments with a metal resonator and those in the South predominantly enjoyed the wooden. All use five courses (pairs of strings) with the three lowest tuned in octaves and the two highest in unison. Most commonly, the strings are tuned to a D major triad. Culturally, to play the viola is either a divine gift or something an aspirer must work for by means of a pacto-com-o-outra-lado (a pact with the other side, or the Devil). Rattlesnake rattles are also put inside the viola for protection. It is mostly used for folk purposes, accompanying singer-bards in the Northeast known as cantoria de viola, the regional samba style in Bahia known as the samba de viola, and the country music of South-central Brazil known as musica capira.


The violao is a 6-string guitar made of nylon strings used in folk, popular and classical styles. Violao players tend to emphasize strumming techniques known as rasqueado, and finger-picking techniques known as ponteado. The violao is the basic accompanying instrument for many sambas and is the essential instrument utilized in bossa nova. It is also featured alongside the violao de sete cordas (7-string) during choro, an intimate form of Brazilian chamber music.


"Violino" is the Portuguese term for any standard chordophonic, four-stringed violin. Its four strings tuned to G, D, A, and E, this instrument is one of many European influences in Brazil. It is used in a variety of musical styles and ensembles, including rural folk forms and Bossa Nova. The violin is the most important instrument to musicians in Caiçara in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. In Caiçara music, the violin is played with frequent ornamentation. The rabeca, the historical precursor to the violin that is also known as a fiddle, is a popular alternative to the violin in Brazil.


A variant of a chocalho, the xique-xique is a Brazillian rattle made from a metal container filled with rice. Originating in the northeastern state of Bahia in a town of the same name, it is often used in samba music. It is also the popular name for a type of cactus in the state of Bahia.


Brazilian rattles made from metal or wood. See Chocalho


From Northeast Brazil, the zabumba is a bass drum, either 16 or 18 inches long, made with animal or synthetic heads. The top side which is slightly thicker is played with a mallet and the bottom, is played with a bamboo or plastic stick called the bacalhau. The zabumba is worn by a strap in the front, on or above the drummer's waistline in a diagonal fashion. Open and closed (muffling) strokes are both often heard. The zabumba rhythms are traditionally accompanied by triangle, pandeiro, agogo bells, pifano, rabeca and an accordion. Zabumba is also an alternate name for banda de pifanos.