Arcomusical
Arcomusical

Arcomusical: a multi-faceted resource for the Afro-Brazilian berimbau dedicated to performance, publication, research, and community building.

The berimbau is one member of the “bow” family of musical instruments found all over the world. Its closest relatives are found in southern Africa, specifically in the Portuguese speaking countries of Angola (e.g. hungo and mblumbumba) and Mozambique (e.g. xitende).

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Arcomusical
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"Hollow"
(2006) by Jeff Herriott

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"Berimbau Duo no. 1"
(2013) by Gregory Beyer

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"Berimbau Trio no. 1"
(2013) by Gregory Beyer

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"Caída de quatro"
(2014) by Alexis Lamb

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"Berimbau Quintet no. 1"
(2014) by Gregory Beyer

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"Repercussio"
(2006/2008) by Alexandre Lunsqui

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Sketchbook
Snappy and I

Snappy-Bau! Creating a New Instrument

Over the past few months, I have become closely reacquainted with an old family friend, David “Snappy” White, from Janesville, Wisconsin. Snap used to drive the Snap-On Tools truck around southern Wisconsin to sell excellent tools to professional mechanics in the trade. My father was one of those mechanics. Outside of the business, the two men and their families became friends, living only two blocks apart from one another.

In retirement, Snappy has become an expert woodworker and has set up a meticulous “shop” in his basement. He is constantly growing, refining techniques, and taking on new and interesting projects and challenges.

For one of his sons, Josh, and his grandson, Snap worked with his brother-in-law, Lloyd, to create a pair of traditional hunting long bows. These are gorgeously refined laminates that require a jig to mold and glue the multiple strips of wood in place.

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“From the US to Brazil and Back Again: Taking the Berimbau Full Circle” Projeto Arcomusical performs and trains in Brazil

In July 2015, Projeto Arcomusical spent three weeks in Brazil, performing MeiaMeia and training capoeira Angola.

Below is a series of photos from that trip, dated in chronological order. These photos accompany the following story…

 

From July 3 to December 3, 2015, I had the absolute pleasure of spending five months in Brazil, four of these thanks to a grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program. That external funding allowed me to divide my time evenly between teaching at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and researching the role of the berimbau musical bow in its traditional context of the Afro-Brazilian martial game known as Capoeira Angola. I conducted the research through reading, studying recordings, making musical transcriptions and, most importantly, actively training at the Capoeira Angola Dobrada Association (ACAD). Such active participation (literally learning how to be playful with my body, how to kick and be kicked, how to use my arms as legs, how to fall gracefully without injury, and much, much more) has opened up incredible opportunities to learn from inside the community, through conversations concerning the musical and philosophical aspects of the art form. No matter how much reading or listening I do on the subject, my understanding of Capoeira Angola would be impoverished without this critical participation.

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