•  The Stomach-berimbau and its rhythms 
    Kay Shaffer

    About employment

    [..] in 1973 [..] Mestre Waldemar only gave paid exhibitions.

    About the life

    Mestre Waldemar (Waldemar da Paixão), born in Salvador on 22nd February 1916. He is one of the best-known capoeiristas in Bahia. He says he started to learn capoeira in 1936 and to teach in 1940. He saw the problems with the police during Pedrito's (Pedro de Azevedo Gordilho) time, who was the police chief of the famous Cavalry Esquadron [until 1930 - velhosmestres.com] and who worked alot against the capoeiristas and the candomblés, but M Waldemar says he was never involved.

    He started the commercialization of the berimbau in Bahia.

    He is well-known for his vast repertuar of songs.

    For many years he had capoeira each Sunday with his students on a square in the Liberdade neighborhood.

    Today he is almost exclusively involved with fabricating berimbaus.

    About the form of the berimbau

    When asking Mestre Waldemar, who makes most of the berimbaus for the Model Market in Salvador, Bahia, why would he make them like this [without a sharp end], he responded: "Because it's more decent". When asked to explain, he says that in the old days, during the time of the problems with the police, the berimbau - which was made with a sharp end - could be taken apart and used as a weapon. The new form started to be used right when the problems with the police ended.

    About the painting of the berimbau

    It's well-known among the Masters that the first person to paint a berimbau was Mestre Waldeamr da Paixão. He himself says: "I invented varnishing them. I made a very good berimbau with the name Azulão. I painted it with blue varnish."

    He also says: "I was the one to take the berimbaus to Bahia." This is also true. In 1942, he started to make berimbaus to sell and invented a special painting for them. During these times, the painting of the berimbaus became fashionable and all the masters since then have been painting their berimbaus.

    About the selling of berimbaus

    Most of them [berimbaus sold on the Model Market] are made by Mestre Waldemar da Paixão, in the Liberdade Neighborhood, in Salvador. There, with many boys who work for him, hundreds of berimbaus are produced weekly.

    As we already explained, it was Mestre Waldemar who started selling berimbaus in Bahia. In 1942, he started to sell berimbaus in the old Água de Meninos. After the fire, that destroyed it, and the present Model Market was constructed, he continued to sell in the new location.

    Today, he makes three types, that he classifies like this:

    1. special berimbau: seven palm-lengths (1,18 or 1,20m);
    2. common berimbau: approximately 1,10m;
    3. childrens berimbau: smaller.

    The painting of each type is different and the reason given to the choice of colors is that "it's my tradition".

    Until recently, the wire used by him was taken from the tyres. Now he only uses wire bought in huge rolls, which is much more convenient for making large quantities of berimbaus.

    The painting he classifies or calls "his tradition". The "special" colors of the berimbau (which can be noted to be of same size as used by capoeiristas) are different from the "common" berimbau (which is smaller than the usual ones of the capoeiristas) and from the "childrens" one. The prices are bigger relating to the size of the instrument.

    Waldemar uses beriba for the berimbaus, a fact that we saw, but other masters in the city say that he makes "broomstick berimbaus". It is interesting that they also say that had they started to make berimbaus to sell when he did, they would be rich today.

    Though being of "right" type, a casual observation helps to notice that the ending is not perfect, which is the case of professial berimbaus.

    Some years ago the wire was taken from the tyres. Now the only wire used is bought in huge rolls which is more convenient. The wire is stretched and tightened with a thin cord, sometimes with a strong string. The gourd is of any size and sometimes enormous, which although looks beautiful on a wall, as was already shown, is not good for a good sound.

    The "coin" sold with the berimbau is a common washer.

    Although Mestre Waldemar is be biggest producer, there are other people making berimbaus to sell.

    Notation of some rhythms

    Angolina [Angolinha?]

    Mestre Waldemar:

    São Bento Grande

    Mestre Waldemar:

    São Bento Pequeno

    Mestre Waldemar:


    Mestre Waldemar:


    Mestre Waldemar:

    Santa Maria

    Mestre Waldemar:

Flickr Photos

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