What Is Pandeiro In Capoeira?

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Capoeira, the mesmerizing Afro-Brazilian martial art form, encompasses a rich tapestry of movements, music, and instruments. Among the various instruments that infuse energy and rhythm into the captivating roda (circle) is the pandeiro. This small but mighty hand drum holds a significant place in the heart of Capoeira practitioners, adding an irresistible pulse to the mesmerizing game. In this article, we will explore the essence of the pandeiro in Capoeira, delving into its history, construction, techniques, and its crucial role within the roda. Join us on this rhythmic journey as we uncover the essence of this enchanting instrument.


What is the origin of the pandeiro in Capoeira?

The pandeiro is a traditional Brazilian musical instrument that plays an important role in various Brazilian music genres, including Capoeira. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that incorporates elements of dance, acrobatics, and music.

The origin of the pandeiro itself can be traced back to ancient times. Its roots can be found in similar frame drums used in various cultures around the world, including the tambourine in Europe, the daf in the Middle East, and the pandereta in Spain.

In the context of Capoeira, the pandeiro was likely introduced to Brazil during the period of African slavery. The instrument is believed to have African origins and was brought to Brazil by enslaved Africans during the colonial era. These Africans, hailing from different regions and ethnic groups, brought with them their diverse musical traditions and instruments, which influenced the development of Brazilian music and culture, including Capoeira.

Within the realm of Capoeira, the pandeiro serves as a rhythmic and melodic accompaniment to the movements and songs performed during the practice. It is played by striking the drumhead with the hand, fingers, or a small drumstick, while the other hand can manipulate the jingles (metal discs) on the drum’s frame to produce additional sounds and rhythms. The pandeiro’s vibrant and versatile nature makes it well-suited for the dynamic and improvisational nature of Capoeira.

Over time, the pandeiro has become an integral part of Capoeira music and is commonly played alongside other traditional instruments such as the berimbau (a musical bow), atabaque (a tall hand drum), and agogô (a double bell). Together, these instruments create the rhythmic foundation that drives the energy and flow of Capoeira games and performances.


How is a pandeiro constructed?

The construction of a pandeiro involves several key components that contribute to its unique sound. The frame is typically made of wood, while the head is covered with a thin layer of animal skin or synthetic material. Metal jingles, known as platinelas, are attached to the frame using small screws or nails. These platinelas, often made of brass or nickel silver, produce the characteristic jingling sound when the drum is played.


What techniques are used to play the pandeiro in Capoeira?

Playing the pandeiro in Capoeira involves a combination of hand movements, striking techniques, and jingling patterns. Capoeira musicians employ a range of techniques such as thumb rolls, finger snaps, and palm slaps to produce a diverse array of rhythms. The fingertips, knuckles, and palm are utilized to create different sounds and accents. The platinelas are also played by striking the drumhead or manipulating the pandeiro to create distinct rhythmic patterns.


How does the pandeiro contribute to the Capoeira roda?

Within the Capoeira roda, the pandeiro serves as the heartbeat, infusing the game with energy and driving the movements of the participants. It provides a dynamic rhythm that guides the flow of the game and influences the style of play. The pandeiro player, known as a pandeirista, interacts closely with the berimbau player, responding to the berimbau’s calls and setting the pace for the game. The pandeiro’s vibrant and syncopated beats create an intense atmosphere, evoking emotions and encouraging creativity in the participants.


What are the different styles and rhythms played on the pandeiro in Capoeira?

The pandeiro in Capoeira is versatile, capable of producing a wide range of rhythms and styles. Some of the popular rhythms include São Bento Grande, Angola, Benguela, Iúna, and São Bento Pequeno. Each rhythm has its own unique character and purpose within the game, varying in speed, complexity, and mood. The pandeirista must possess a deep understanding of these rhythms and be able to seamlessly transition between them to complement the evolving dynamics of the road.


How does the pandeiro impact the overall experience of Capoeira?

The pandeiro is more than just an instrument in Capoeira; it is an integral part of the cultural experience. Its rhythmic presence connects participants and spectators, amplifying the energy and sense of community within the roda. The sound of the pandeiro resonates with the movements and acrobatics of the Capoeiristas, creating a harmonious relationship between music and physical expression. It also plays a vital role in the preservation of Capoeira’s cultural heritage, ensuring that its vibrant traditions are passed down through generations.



The pandeiro holds a sacred place in the world of Capoeira, its beats and rhythms intertwining with the movements of the game. As a powerful symbol of African heritage, it brings life, energy, and a sense of identity to Capoeira’s captivating universe. Whether in the hands of a skilled pandeirista or resonating in the hearts of those who witness the roda, the pandeiro is a testament to the enduring spirit of Capoeira, transcending boundaries and inviting us to embrace the rhythm of life.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

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