Study Resources about Capoeira, Samba and Brazilian Culture

In the last workshops and talks I have been holding more and more people came asking about ‘my sources’, or where did I learn to talk about music and Brazilian culture in the way I do. Although the books and other sources are only a small part of the ‘universe’ ‘my sources’ come from, I can point them some useful references. Here’s a post with a summurized list of the material I have been using and indicating for the past few years.

For the past few years I have been using Darcy Ribeiro‘s book: The Brazilian People – Formation and Meaning of Brazil; and DVD (based on his book) as teaching resources (I’m using the first part of this DVD, in portuguese, posted over YouTube, apparently the links for the other chapters are working as well). For those interested in a more in depth understanding of the Brazilian culture and society, I find Darcy’s material very useful and instructive. As most explanations about Brazil and its culture in Capoeira usually rely on personal accounts and can’t be dissociated from groups and lineages current agenda, this material can provide us with an ‘outside source’ to foment discussions and independent research.

Another Brazilian scholar that has done a great effort in terms of understanding and explaining the tensions between the Brazilian and the Western culture is Muniz Sodré (in portuguese). The first book I read from him was Samba: O Dono do Corpo, an amazingly instructive essay explaining the origins of Samba as well as its trajectory as an art of resistance (here’s a link for it at Barnes and Noble). I have used this book as a reference in a few posts about Samba (An Insight into Samba de Roda, and Samba and Capoeira: Transcendent Resistance), and have been using it as a reference in my music workshops as a resource to help me explain the importance of syncopation in Capoeira. Last year I read A Verdade Seduzida: Por um Conceito de Cultura no Brasil. In this book Sodré explains how the Western concept of Culture, supposedly an universal one, is ‘seduced’ when forced onto other cultures, particularly the Black culture in Brazil.

In these classes I also have been mentioning Mestre Decânio’s books and his take on rhythms (Ijexá and the Rhythm of Capoeira). His books can be found in English in the download session of Capoeira-Connection, and in Portuguese at Teimosia’s 4Shared. Particularly I recommend his books on Mestres Pastinha, Bimba and ‘Falando em Capoeira’. Also I usually recommend people to read each chapter in both languages before proceeding to the next as a way to improve their portuguese skills once his chapters are short and quite easy to read.

Soon I’ll be sharing other sources that are not directly related to Capoeira but that have been helping me think about Capoeira as a socio-educative tool.

3 thoughts on “Study Resources about Capoeira, Samba and Brazilian Culture”

  1. I read “Capoeira – The History of Afro-Brazilian Martial Art” and found it’s very interesting (you recommended to me one year ago). Thanks for that and for the new recommendations!

    Now I’m reading “The Jogo de Angola from Luanda to Cyberspace” (by Gerard Taylor).

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