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Arching over the Atlantic: Exploring Links between Brazilian and Angolan Musical Bows


Combining historical, organological, ethnographic, and musical analysis, this article explores the relationship between three musical bows—the Angolan hungu and mbulumbumba and the Brazilian berimbau—in the context of the South Atlantic African diaspora. Our intervention crisscrosses scholarly debates about the survival and adaptation of African musical bows in Brazil and capoeiristas’ discourses about the Angolan origins of capoeira and the berimbau. We argue for a direct connection between the hungu and berimbau, calling into question any such link to the mbulumbumba, one first posited by Gerhard Kubik in the 1970s and reasserted by subsequent scholars.

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