from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, United States

About "Home-made berimbau jam (for your biscuits)"

The berimbau is a Brazilian instrument associated with Capoeira, which is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. The berimbau is made from a wooden bow, strung with a wire taken from a steel belted radial tire. A hollowed gourd is tied to the bow to act as a resonator, amplifier and to generate a waa-waa effect. The bow is held with the left hand while striking the wire with a stick which is held in the right hand along with a small basket shaker (a caxixi).

I made my berimbau. The bow is Osage Orange wood (aka “Hedge Apple Tree", a wild shrubby tree, with beautiful orange colored wood). I used an old piano wire for my berimbau - that wire is tight: if it pops off it’s going to put somebody’s eye out! I wanted to make the berimbau as loud as I could so I tied 4 hollow gourds to it: I still had to put the power mic actually into the lower gourd, so the recording is noisy with the sound of the mic slapping against the gourd. I play my berimbau with it standing up on the ground, anchored by my foot, sort of like an old "wash-tub bass". This way I can bend the bow to manipulate the tone - which is not a traditional way of playing it. In this 3 track recording I strum it (right track), bend it (center track) and "fret it" with a metal rod (left track). Accompanied by caxixi and tambourine.

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