Batuque de umbigada is a multifaceted historical term used to describe situations and encounters involving African music and dance.
Preserved for almost 400 years, the batuque de umbigada was popular in music, performance or ritualistic events as the predecessor of thesamba de roda, as an Afro-Brazilian religion in Rio Grande do Sul, and also as a symbol of the cultural resistance and strength of the batuque de umbigada, a characteristic dance and musical style of the Bantu Africans, associated with the expansion of the coffee industry during the second half of the nineteenth century in the countryside of São Paulo.
Batuque can be a circular dance accompanied by clapping, snapping, tapping of the feet, and movement of the hips and shoulders, but, in the Piracicaba, Tietê and Capivara regions, it lives on as a line dance where men and women face each other.
This genre is similar to jongo and stands out due to the exchange of umbigadas between the lined-up participants, who dance to the sound of drums, matracas and rattles. The well-known or improvised songs (modas; popular songs) that guide these dances are sung by vocalists ( mestres; masters of popular culture) and touch on everyday topics.
Batuque can also be identified by the instruments involved: the head instrument is the tambú, a large, low-pitched drum, accompanied by the quinjengue and the matraca. The tambú doesn't have any tuners to adjust the leather; it is carved out of a wooden trunk and then tuned with the heat of the fire.
African tradition teaches us that both trees and instruments have souls and axé, which is why the process of making a tambú has to be a careful one that respects the forces of nature, using only trunks from trees that have fallen due to age.