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Côco, a popular northeastern Brazilian form of song and dance of African and Amerindian origin, found especially in Alagoas. Côco songs consist of choruses and refrains that are both traditional and improvised. As the name suggests, the earliest côcos were work songs of the Afro-Brazilians of Palmares, who would harvest and break coconuts to a rhythmic beat. The form now goes by a variety of names, such as côco de ganzá, côco de zambê, côco de usina, and côco da praia. It was also danced in the salons of Alagoas and Paraiba under the names samba, pagode, zambê, and bambelô.

In a common form of the dance, men and women form a circle with a soloist in the center who sings and performs a ritual dance, inviting the next soloist into the center with an umbigada (belly bounce) or courteous bow. Most of the instruments driving this lively exchange are percussion, namely ingonos, cuícas, pandeiros, ganzás, or wooden boxes.

See alsoMusical Instruments .


David P. Appleby, The Music of Brazil (1983).

Luis Da Camara Cascudo, Dicionário do folclore brasileiro, 5th ed. (1984).

Chris Mc Gowan and Ricardo Pessanha, The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Ayala, Maria Ignez Novais and Marcos Ayala. Cocos: Alegria e devoção. Natal: Editora da UFRN, 2000.

Crook, Larry. Brazilian Music: Northeastern Traditions and the Heartbeat of a Modern Nation. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Murphy, John P. Music in Brazil: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

                             Bernadette Dickerson