General

Quadras are a perfect source of inspiration for your songs

There are a lot of capoeira songs where you can improvise.  “Parana ê” is a great example: the chorus stays the same, but it is completely up to you what you sing during the solo lines. Unlike other corridos, “Parana ê” doesn’t really have a fixed set of lines you can repeat, that song depends a lot more on your improvisation and creativity as a lead singer.

Of course the same goes for other songs, even if they have known verses or aren’t categorized as a corrido. Improvisation is key to keep you going as the lead singer in a roda. This is less true for modern songs in Benguela or Contemporary Regional, because those have fixed verses (like “Madeira Boa”, “A Benguela Chamou Pra Jogar”, …).

When you speak (fluent) Portuguese it is pretty easy to improvise: you can just sing about what you see in the roda, you can give instructions to the bateria, make jokes about the weather, … But when your Portuguese isn’t all that great it is a lot harder to keep finding lines to sing and you’ll have to switch songs quicker to avoid repeating yourself too often.

Quadras to the rescue

Having a ‘catalog’ of lines you could use in any song that requires improvisation sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, for starters you can start memorizing all quadras of Capoeira Regional. They fit nicely in a lot of corridos, an example:

Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná
Pê de mim tem um vizinho, Paraná
Quem enricou sem trabalhar, Paraná
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná
Meu pai trabalho tanto, Paraná

Nunca pode se enricar, Paraná
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná
Não deitava uma noite, Paraná
Que deixasse de rezar, Paraná
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná

Mestre Bimba’s quadras were inspired on the Brazilian quadrinhas or quadras populares. A quadrinha is a type of song/poem in Brazilian folclore. So naturally, you can use those as well in your songs (as a lot of Mestres actually do). And where do I find such quadras, you ask? Well, there is this book called Mil Quadras Populares Brasileiras by Carlos Goés from 1916 containing no less than 1000 quadras and it’s freely available on archive.org. So  if you are looking for inspiration, I suggest you download the e-book and try to read and translate some quadras. Learn the ones you like, and try to integrate them in your songs. Good luck!

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