The berimbau (de barriga), also known as the urucungo, is a monochord instrument belonging to the chordophone family which spread throughout Brazil in the twentieth century as the instrument responsible for directing the roda de capoeira.
The berimbau de barriga (belly berimbau) comes from Angola, where it was used as a hunting bow. It was turned into a musical instrument called thehumbu, but, in accordance with its ethnic and historical context, it produced a different sound and was played differently than the Brazilian berimbau.
The bow of the berimbau comes from a bush called the biriba, which is flexible enough to bend. The gourd (fruit of the calabash) comes in a number of sizes, gives the instrument its pitch, and serves as a resonance box which is attached to the biriba with a cord, which is then moved back and forth by the player.
The wire is hit with a drumstick (a thin stick of biriba) and a doubloon (a round piece of copper, or an old coin), or with a stone that hits the metal cord (from car tires), creating different sounds according to the position of the gourd and the force of impact of the drumstick and doubloon.
Three different berimbaus are used in the roda de capoeira in order to create the necessary musical rhythms: the gunga (large and low-pitched), the médio, and the viola (small and high-pitched).
There is also the berimbau de boca (mouth berimbau), which is a metal artifact shaped like a horseshoe, which has a reed in the middle.