Brazilian music is full of energy, passion and life and comes alive through the hands of our energetic players and pulsating instruments. Most of these instruments came from our Portuguese and African ancestors and were adapted and modified with time, creating our own unique range of rhythms.
Let’s take a look at some of the important musical instruments utilized in Brazil and discover how they have been used to compose so many of our beautiful melodies:
The Ganzá came from Africa and is a cylindrical shaped percussion instrument usually made with a plastic or metallic tube, mainly used in samba music. The shaky sound comes from within: the tube can be filled with sand, beads or even with cereals.
The cavaquinho is similar to the Hawaiian ukulele. The instrument came from Portugal, which also brought it to Hawai, and it differs from its Hawaiian cousin by the different type of tuning utilized in it. The cavaquinho is mainly used in Samba and Chorinho, as we can hear in the video below in our most famous chorinho called “brasileirinho”:
The Alfaia is a wooden bass drum. Its rustic construction is similar to the 19th Century European military drums. This powerful instrument is present in one of the most pungent rhythms of Pernambuco’s Culture: The Maracatu. It got some international popularity thanks to the artists that came out of the Manguebeat Movement. Below you can check out a typical night in Recife’s Old town with the performance of one of the many Maracatu groups from the State and also a video from Nação Zumbi, a band that mixes the regional sound of the Alfaias with rock music, really well.