As Mestre Acordeon writes in Capoeira - a Brazilian art form: "The speed and attitude of the jôgo are determined by the many different rhythms of a one stringed bow-shaped instrument, the berimbau, which is considered the symbol of Capoeira."
There are many rhythms to learn on the berimbau, some slow, some fast, some inbetween. As well as learning to play these, they must also be listened to, because the rhythm is telling you how to play.
The main parts of the berimbau are:
Verga - this is the wooden bow that forms the body of the berimbau.
Arame - this is the steel string of the berimbau
cabaça - this acts to amplify and resonate the sound, and there are different sizes for bass, medium and high sounds. The largest is called the gunga and offers the bass, the smallest is the viola, and in the middle is the médio.
To play the berimbau you strike the arame with a baqueta (a small stick), whilst holding caxixi (a small rattle). In your other hand is a pedra (a small stone), or a dobrao (a coin) to alter the tone from the arame.
You can see all these in the picture below:
Instrutor Lua will be going to Brazil in December and will be able to get some berimbaus for us. They are £30, and the money would need to be in by 1st December. If you would like to get your own berimbau, then please get in touch with me. You needn't pay all up front, you can pay in bits, so long as it is all in by December 1st.
Update: Actually, the berimbaus are £30 without a caxixi, and £35 with. I'd recommend getting one with a caxixi if I were you