ISSN 2158-5296
AAWM JOURNAL VOL. 4 NO. 1 (2015)
A Short Cross-Analysis of Brazilian Capoeira and Thai Sarama Music and Shared Ritual Practices

Duncan Williams

This paper examines the somewhat surprising common ground that exists in the music and musical rituals found within the cultures of two geographically and stylistically disparate martial arts: Thai boxing (Muay Thai), and Brazilian capoeira. Though there are differences in instrumentation, meter, and mode, both capoeira and Muay Thai utilize music as part of formalized rituals before and during physical competition as part of their ‘martial’ practices. In Thailand, competitive matches are traditionally accompanied by their own form, Sarama, as part of the Ram or Phleng Muay (a pre-fight ritual), which includes a musical soundtrack in direct response to the fight. The ritualistic nature of the Sarama performance shares some striking musical features with capoeira, despite having no obvious shared ancestry (the first commercial gym to offer Muay Thai outside Thailand was opened in Brazil in the late 1970s). The connection suggests that a number of holistic conclusions can be drawn regarding the role of music and ritual as an accompaniment to otherwise dissimilar combative sports.

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Contributor Information:
Duncan Williams is a Research Fellow in Music with Artificial Intelligence at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University.

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