The word ladainha means litany and it is a very important style of song in the capoeira roda. Although the tradition is more or less lost in Capoeira Regional, it is still a strong part of Capoeira Angola. Typically, every Capoeira Angola roda starts with the leader singing a ladainha before the game starts. Note that the game does not start until the ladainha is completed. It is almost like a prayer and is seen as disrespectful for the players to start the game while the solo is in progress. Most of the time the first two players remain agachado ao pé do berimbau (squatting at the foot of the berimbau) while the soloist sings.


The significance of the ladainha in the capoeira roda:

  • It sets the tone for the roda. Giving it positive vibes. The prayer blesses the space and builds up the axé.
  • Musically, it can be a like a ‘mic check’ with a warm up song to make sure the instruments are in sync. The instrumentalist can get comfortable on their instruments before the full roda starts. The singer can clear his or her throat in preparation.
  • The message in the ladainha is often critical and it often either teaches the students a moral lesson or educates them about capoeira history, mestres and legends. The song serves to inspire everyone at the event and all the players to put their heart into the game.

It is also not uncommon to hear a ladainha in Capoeira Regional during a special event such as a workshop or batizado. The importance of it here is the same as in the Angola roda.


There are two main parts to a ladainha

  • Long verse: This is the main portion of the song and can be anything from 2 to 20 plus lines but it’s usually a relatively long verse. The verse is often a poetic story with a moral lesson, praises to an old mestre, legend, place of significance, religion, or about slavery. For example, here’s the verse from a ladainha by Mestre Camisa:
    Portuguese English
    Manoel dos Reis Machado
    Manoel dos Reis Machado
    Foi embora e nos deixou
    Deus lhe pôe em bom lugar
    Pois é meu ermitão
    Foi o Rei da capoeira
    Foi ele que me ensinou
    Ele foi mestre dos mestres
    Meu mestre que Deus levou
    E não joga mais na terra
    Onde lá no céu jogar
    Com Traíra e Besouro
    Aberrê e Valdemar
    Ele foi rei aqui na terra
    Hoje é rei em outro lugar
    Manoel dos Reis Machado
    Manoel dos Reis Machado
    He went away and left us
    God put you in a good place
    For it’s my religious recluse
    He was the king of capoeira
    It was he that taught me
    He was the master of masters
    My teacher that God took
    And he no longer plays on earth
    Somewhere in heaven playing
    With Traíra and Besouro
    Aberrê and Valdemar
    He was king here in earth
    Today he’s king in another place
  • Louvação: This is the call and response part of the ladainha. It is at this point the rest of the roda gets involved and really ramp up the axé to support the singer. It is often hails mesteres, capoeira, God, places such as Bahia…etc This part is sometimes improvised so it’s really important to listen to know how to respond. Here’s an example using the louvação portion of the ladainha mentioned above:
    Portuguese English
    Camaradinha, viva meu mestre
    Iê viva meu mestre, camará
    Iê ele me ensinou
    Iê ele me ensinou, camará
    Iê a capoeira
    Iê a capoeira, camará
    Iê vem lá da Bahia
    Iê vem da Bahia, camará
    Little comrade, long live my master
    Iê long live my master, comrade
    Iê he taught me
    Iê he taught me, comrade
    Iê capoeira
    Iê capoeira, comrade
    Iê come there to Bahia
    Iê come there to Bahia, comrade

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