Capoeira toques

In the game of capoeira, toques are the rhythms played on the berimbau. Many toques are associated with a specific game (i.e. style and speed of play), although organizations differ on how to play each toque. Capoeira toques have their roots in African rhythmic music, which was modified and further developed among the slaves of Brazil.

Important toques

Some of the more important toques are described below, including; traditional toques, and those created or popularised by Mestre Bimba who was responsible for significant developments to modern capoeira.

The Traditional Toques


Considered the oldest and most traditional toque. Used for the Angola game, a slow performance where players demonstrate balance and corporal expression. Used with the São Bento Pequeno toque. Tempo can range from slow to moderately fast.

Images are given below to illustrate the structure of this common toque.

The basic:

Some common variations played by the viola:

A note on notation:: = Berimbau note. The arame is struck with the dobrão open and the cabaça away from the stomach for a low note, or dobrão pressing firmly for a high note. In this notation, notes that are unfilled are played unmuted as opposed to the example below.: = Muted berimbau note (cabaça is held against the body). : = A buzz (strike the arame with the dobrão resting lightly on the arame and the cabaça against the body): Double and single eighth notes. An eight note is 1/2 a beat.: = A slur (press the dobrão against the arame without striking with the other hand): = A quarter note rest (1 beat): = An eighth note rest (1/2 a beat): = Shows the basic pulse underneath the bar for comparison. Four boxes = 1 beat

ão Bento pequeno

Also known as São Bento pequeno or Inverted Angola (because it replaces the high note of the Angola toque with the low and vice versa). A close, fast game. São Bento Pequeno is also sometimes played as a contra-toque (an inversion the gunga) by the medio berimbau.

ão Bento grande

This is a very fast game played with ample movements. Leg sweeps and take downs are common in this game.

anta Maria

A toque used for the not often seen 'money', game where the players try to pick up a coin purse placed in the center of the "roda" with their mouths, the melody imitates the corrido "Santa Maria, Mãe de Deus". The corrido "Apanha Laranja no Chão Tico Tico (não leva com mão, só com pé ou com bico)" gives general rule for the game: use your mouth and feet, not your hands.


Originally used to alert players that the police were coming, the toque imitates the galloping of horses (and some say it sounds like a police siren)

amba de Roda

This rhythm comes from the traditional Sambas de Roda of Bahia and is perhaps the oldest of the toques listed. It's used as a toque variation for the berimbau viola, as well as for a post-roda celebration.

Toques Created by Mestre Bimba and Others

ão Bento grande de Bimba

Often called São Bento grande de Regional or just Regional. Mestre Bimba’s fast, explosive game seen often in exhibitions.


Iúna is an old viola guitar toque used in the sambas of the Recôncavo, Bahia. Bimba, who himself was an accomplished master of the viola de samba, brought it into capoeira as a toque on berimbau. Some say it is also in imitation of the Iúna bird's song. This toque may signal a medium paced game with emphasis almost entirely on acrobatics and usually played with ample distance between partners. Traditionally this game is only played by graduados (experienced students) and in many schools may only be played when a Mestre is present.

It usually switches between one of a set of variations and a repeated common measure.


In many schools played extremely close and with much deception. Some schools play this as a slower, safer Regional game.


A slow, but powerful game. Another of Mestre Bimba's toques, the accompanying game is played with knives/razors.

Amazonas/Santa Maria (de Angola)

Amazonas: A welcoming toque used to greet visiting Mestres and guests in some Regional and Contemporânea schools. It has no traditionally associated game though Mestre Camisa is currently developing a game that mimics the movements of Amazonian animals.

NB. This toque is also called Santa Maria de Angola in some circumstances and is identical to São Bento Grande de Mestre Bimba. What differentiates toques in instances like this is the particular purpose for which it is being played.

Other toques


Created by Mestre Suassuna. Like Angola, but faster. There is only sometimes clapping or singing.

Mestre Suassuna: "The game of miudinho is generating controversy because it is being misinterpreted. People are thinking it's a new capoeira, and it's nothing like that. I simply rescued an older capoeira, modernized the manner of playing it, changed the sequences... the name miudinho arose because I was observing that capoeiristas were playing very distant from each other and in our time we played very close; thus, I said to people, 'I want the game more minute, closer, play very tiny.' Then, I created a toque on the berimbau. Miudinho is not a new capoeira, it's a different manner to display capoeira. Just like the games of Iuna and São Bento Grande exist, the game of miudinho exists."


* cite book
authorlink=Nestor Capoeira
title=The Little Capoeira Book
publisher=North Atlantic Books

* cite book
title=Capoeira: The Roots of the Game
publisher=North Atlantic Books

External links

* [ The "toques" of Capoeira]
* [ Capoeira music]
* [ Grupo Capoeira Brasil - Berimbau]

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