Portuguese Language Blog

Which Brazilian musical instruments do you know? Posted by on Jun 18, 2021 in Brazilian Profile, Culture, Customs, Entertainment, Learning, Music, Vocabulary

Olá, queridos leitores! Como estão? Hope you’re in the mood for some music to kick off the weekend. I believe you all know how Brazilians are very orgulhosos (proud) of their vast musical culture. To get an idea, Spotify carried out a survey which revealed that we are the country that most ouve (listens to) its own music. Within our musical scope, many sonoridades (sounds) are explored using instrumentos musicais (musical instruments) that are not conhecidos (well known) to those outside Brazil. Of course, we are not talking about your usual violão, guitarra, sanfona, bateria, teclado ou piano (the guitar, electric guitar, accordion, drums, keyboard or piano), but other unique instruments that make up the identity of our music. And there are many of them! So we’re breaking this down into two parts. Prontos para a primeira lista? Get your headphones ready!


  • Without a doubt, the cavaquinho is one of the most emblematic string instruments in Brazilian music. Although it is more common in styles such as samba, pagode or chorinho, it is certainly not restricted to them. Hear some of it here:


Ever heard of capoeira? Well, the berimbau is the instrument of African origins that livens up the cantos (singing) in capoeira circles, the Brazilian martial art. Composed of a arco de madeira (wooden bow), steel wire and gourd, its metallic som (sound) is inconfundível (unmistakable). By clicking here you can listen to different variations:


The côco (coconut) is a much beloved tropical delicacy, but did you know it can also make music? The agogô is an instrument widely used in sambas, and is composed of hollow iron cones or even ones atcually made from coconut shells, where the musician hits with baquetas (drumsticks). In addition, it is very popular in cânticos (chants) of Afro-Brazilian religions, such as Candomblé.


  • This instrumento de percussão (percussion instrument) is mainly tocado (played) in sambas and batucadas. The repique is um pequeno tambor (a small drum) played with drumsticks, often featured in solos. Don’t forget to click here to check out what it sounds like:


  • If you’ve been to one or ever watched videos of rodas de samba (samba circles), then the pandeiro should be no stranger to you. This is one of the best known Brazilian percussive instruments and you can hear its ritmo animado (uplifting rhythm) right here:


  • Country music Brazilian style, also known as viola sertaneja or cabocla (country viola), this instrument is related to the guitar and very popular in the Brazilian countryside. Its crystalline sound is the symbol das antigas músicas sertanejas (of old country music) that can melt any true Brazilian’s heart. Listen to some of the viola here:

Vocês já conheciam alguns destes instrumentos? Which one was your favorite? Stay tuned for the second part. Hope you enjoyed it and don’t forget to comment below. Até semana que vem!

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  1. Susan:

    Thank you for publishing this article! I absolutely loved it. It was amazing to be able to hear examples of each instrument being played!

    • carol:

      @Susan Hey Susan,
      I’m so glad to hear, hope you enjoyed these instruments and much as I do 😀
      Thanks for reading our blog.