About Arcomusical

Arcomusical is a non-profit organization that advocates the artistic advancement of the Afro-Brazilian berimbau and related musical bows. This mission is supported by the five pillars of activity:

composition
performance
publication
research
community


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).

Arcomusical has developed a vibrant culture for creative berimbau performance. Through transcription, composition, collaboration, and commission of new works, Arcomusical places the berimbau at the crossroads of cultural viewpoints, leading to diverse performance contexts. To date, Arcomusical has created over thirty new works in a multitude of genres.

Having created a diverse and substantial repertoire for contemporary berimbau performance, Arcomusical has become a publishing entity offering scores ranging from solos to sextets, from concerti to mixed ensembles, and from acoustic to fixed and interactive multi-media environments.

Arcomusical began in 1999 when its Director, Gregory Beyer, fell in love with the berimbau via the music of famous Brazilian percussionist, Naná Vasconcelos (1944-2016). What began as a simple transcription of a track from Vasconcelos’s 1980 ECM recording, “Saudades” gradually blossomed into a 200+ page DMA thesis. Completed in 2004, the thesis discusses the berimbau in three musical contexts: Brazilian, African, and contemporary. In 2007, Beyer traveled to Recife to conduct an interview with Naná Vasconcelos that was subsequently published in Percussive Notes, the research journal of the Percussive Arts Society.

Arcomusical has become part of a global community of researchers, composers, performers, instrument builders, and capoeiristas. In the United States, Brazil, Africa, and elsewhere around the globe, Arcomusical is creating vital connections between people in order to celebrate, re-think, and transform this beautiful instrument.