Arcomusical is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to spread the joy of the Afro-Brazilian musical bow known as the berimbau through the development of innovative and excellent musical repertoire. Arcomusical supports this mission through six pillars of activity: performance, education, composition, publication, research, and community.
What is a musical bow?
Although the berimbau is a well-known instrument in Brazil, most people in the United States are not familiar with its elegant beauty and simplicity. And people remain largely unaware of the diverse family of instruments to which the berimbau belongs. Musical bows are the most popular and widespread traditional string instrument found throughout sub-saharan Africa, and the berimbau made its way to Brazil via the transatlantic slave trade. The berimbau’s closest relatives are found in southern Africa in the Portuguese speaking countries of Angola and Mozambique, as well as in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, and just about every other country in the region. In Brazil, the pain and suffering of the enslaved African in the new world is deeply connected to the soul of the berimbau. Specifically in the practice of the body game known as capoeira, the berimbau is celebrated and honored as an icon of resistance against oppression. Furthermore, in the hands of inspired musicians such as Naná Vasconcelos (1944-2016) and Ramiro Musotto (1963-2009), the berimbau became the central vehicle for the creative exploration of new musical frontiers.
Today, Arcomusical honors both the tradition and the innovation of the berimbau’s past in every activity that supports the mission to spread the instrument’s message of joy and hope well into the future.
In the Arcomusical mission resonate the recent words of the great civil rights pioneer Asa Philip Randolph:
“Maybe our forefathers and mothers all came to this great land in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now. We all live in the same house. The American house.”
Musical bows come from around the world. Their musical transformation is happening right here in DeKalb, Illinois.
For Arcomusical, this is American music.