What are traditional arts about?

Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge in Percussion


What are Traditional Arts?

Traditional Arts are the basis of community living. They are the key aspect upon which the material and immaterial culture revolve. These arts are based on the relationship between community living and nature, functioning as entertainment, medicine, and ritual.

What are traditional arts in Opanije.com?

Opanije bridges the gap between traditional art and digital medium, with a unique ecosystem of cultural content available for free, such as establishing historically what are Brazilian Samba roots and history, and a subscription service with specific classes on traditional arts.

Percussion teacher

Junior “Pai de Santo” – Percussion Teacher at Opanije.com – Course Available here

Subscribers are able to meet the bearers of cultural traditions that define the roots of the identity and philosophy of oral traditions. They embody their cultural background and are happy to share it.


What’s the meaning of traditional arts?

While it is important to understand the art’s techniques, in order to avoid injury and frustrations, traditional arts are about an entire cultural universe.

Having a Master/student relationship, understanding references, artistic trajectory, style, and history. Traditional arts are about belonging, forming ties with culture, musical and dance movements, and sharing experiences that bond communities and societies.

Samba Master

“Tinho Pequeno”  our teachers’ Junior “Pai de Santo” Percussion Master

Afro-Diasporic, and African music, for example, have numerous micro-timings, which can’t be written in Western musical notation. This is one small proof that to preserve culture, we must preserve the learning principles of said culture.

There is a technical part that is basic for beginners and intermediary players, where they will build and strengthen their abilities. Traditional arts also have core skills that may be developed in many ways, which are needed to develop the skills needed to perform artistic expressions.

Traditional music, dance, and all other forms of art require technical ability. While this technical repertoire is not written, as in guitar scales, the characteristic of traditional arts is practicing slowly the core movements, in the same way as scales


Traditional Art and Oral Knowledge in Percussion


A brief history of traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion traces back thousands of years, with artists from various civilizations utilizing percussion instruments for a wide range of uses, such as rituals, art, crafts, celebrations, and communication.

The essential role of percussion in various cultures is not only as an artistic creation process and expression but also a vital component in maintaining and sharing cultural narratives.

 Brazil: Rhythms and Heritage


In Brazil, the role of percussion in cultural traditions is prominent, with diverse styles such as Samba, Maracatu, and Capoeira incorporating unique blends of Indigenous and African rhythmic elements. Iconic Brazilian instruments include the Atabaque, pandeiro, and tamborim, each contributing unique sounds to the musical landscape.

Atabaque made with Sisal Rope

Atabaque for Sale at our Store

Brazilian percussion is intrinsically connected to the country’s history and national heritage, reflecting the influences of several different ethnicities and the ramifications of American indigenous and African cultures.

Africa, the Home of Tradition bearers: Griots, Djely, Oral Masters and their Art forms

Tracing the roots of percussion in the World always leads to African societies revealing the continent’s crucial role in shaping global percussion traditions.

Distinctive African instruments such as the Djembe, Dunun, and Talking drums(Tammas) are instruments at the base of traditional African Culture, amongst many other instruments that can be wood-carved, gourd, fiber, beads, and metal-made.

Shekere or Xequerê, a Gourd and Bead instrument

The impact of African percussion on global music is evident in genres such as Reggae, Samba, jazz, and Afrobeat, demonstrating the universality and adaptability of African rhythms. By studying these instruments and their origins, students gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of African percussion.

The Djembe for example is a instrument with very deep meaning and history within the Mande Empire, but unfortunately, many percussionists who have the Djembe as part of their instrument set are unaware of this deep cultural significance it carries.

The African Diaspora: The Clash and Fusion of Cultures

The influence of the African Diaspora on percussion traditions is immense, and encompasses much more than the blending of music, being also part of culture, religion, and knowledge systems.

For example, Candomblé is a religion that worships African deities such as Oríxas, Voduns, and Nkissis, but also incorporates musical elements that have been foundational to Brazilian Music.

Candomblé head woman

Candomblé is one of the main sources of Afro-Brazilian Culture, here’s a Guide to navigate this culture.

This fusion is evident in styles such as Samba-reggae, a blend of many different African influences, mixed with what is known as Latin music, another complex ethnic blend.

The African Diaspora has also given rise to unique percussion instruments like the Congas, Cajon, and Atabaques, instruments with a history of improvisation and resourcefulness of Africans in Diaspora or Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cubans, and Afro-Chileans.

By exploring the roots of tradition and the interconnectedness of these cultures, students can appreciate the creative exchange that has shaped contemporary percussion.

Connecting with Traditional Teachers and Craftsmen

To truly immerse oneself in the world of traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion and dance, and other traditional arts such as wood-carving, it is essential to engage with the masters.

Masters, Griots, and Djelys are some of the names and titles given to those who have dedicated their lives to preserving and sharing knowledge passed down in these art forms.

How to learn Percussion : Listen

Pai Adauto important figure in Candomblé. Masters of the Oral Art forms are Oral Libraries

By learning from them, one not only develops technical skills but also learns about history, cultural context, language, and stories that underpin each tradition’s philosophy and values.

This connection fosters a deeper appreciation for the traditional art form of each Master as an invaluable cultural heritage.

The apprentices learning with them help preserve the legacy of these masters, becoming carriers of their knowledge and traditions as they learned with their Masters.


Get your Brazilian Groove on!

We offer a percussion course that features direct contact with a Master Teacher!

You can start learning with traditional style teachings: no theory or textbooks!

Learn by oral teaching methods: Discover a new way to understand Rhythm!

To Observe and listen are the basic principle upon which our teachers, and their teacher, and so on for several generations, learned, and so can you!

You can also check out our Shop, to find Atabaques, Pandeiros, Agogôs, Caxixis, and many other Brazilian instruments, each one made by master craftsmen such as Mestre Dinho, from Pelourinho in Salvador.

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Exploring the Benefits of Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge

Studying traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion offers numerous benefits, both personally and collectively.

For individuals, learning these art forms fosters a sense of belonging, identity, and cultural pride within certain groups. It also promotes physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as engaging with rhythms and sounds can be therapeutic and stress-relieving.

Knife and Plate, a Traditional Samba instrument

Dona Aurinda do Prato (of the plate) a 90-year-old Percussionist  – Photo by: @juliarodr.gues

Collectively, the preservation and promotion of traditional arts and oral knowledge contribute to cultural diversity, fostering understanding, and respect among different communities. They also serve as a testament to humanity’s shared creativity and resilience, being an example of firmness in an increasingly fast-changing reality, helping to ground and equalize people, as other knowledge systems and art forms are recognized.

The Role of Technology in Preserving and Promoting Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge


In today’s interconnected world, technology must play a significant role in preserving and promoting traditional arts and oral knowledge. Platforms and virtual environments such as our site enable these traditional artists, teachers, and craftsmen to share their wisdom and practices with a global audience.

What are traditional arts?

We at Opanije.com are of one the places where you can get direct access to Traditional Art, Master teachers, and craftsmen.

Being able to access these arts, and the Master Teachers behind them democratizes knowledge, providing opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to learn from these masters and appreciate their art forms.

Technology also helps to document and archive these traditions, while not substituting traditional Oral Knowledge Systems, can become a new medium for its transmissions, and contribute to their continuity and relevance for future generations.

The Importance of Community in Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge

The communal aspect of traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion cannot be overstated. For the past several generations, percussion has been at the heart of community gatherings, ceremonies, and celebrations in Africa and the African Diaspora.

Engaging in these practices brings people together, fostering unity in tradition and community, and reinforcing cultural and family bonds.

As students and percussionists immerse themselves in these traditions, they become part of an extended family of musicians, artists, and practitioners, a group connected by their shared passion for rhythm, sound, tradition, and culture.

Engaging Youth in Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge in Percussion

To ensure the longevity of traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion, engaging the younger generation is crucial.

Providing opportunities for children and young adults to learn about and experience these art forms can be an important part of an inclusive curriculum, antiracist education, or an alternative way of understanding cultural heritage.

Brazilian Instruments - The Atabaque

Different generations playing Candomblé together

Schools, community organizations, and cultural institutions can collaborate to develop educational programs and workshops that introduce students to traditional percussion techniques, rhythms, and histories.

Such initiatives can also empower young people to become ambassadors for their cultural heritage, sharing their knowledge, art education, and skills with others in their community, and the art world at large.

Preserving Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge for Future Generations

The responsibility of preserving traditional arts and oral knowledge lies with each individual who values and respects these practices.

By learning from traditional masters, practicing and refining their skills, and sharing their knowledge with others, learners become agents of these precious art forms.

Traditional Arts

Traditional Arts come in many forms

Ensuring their survival and continuity requires dedication, passion, and a commitment to passing on this generational knowledge.

By embracing this responsibility, students not only honor the legacy of their teachers but also ensure that the wisdom, and power of traditional arts and oral knowledge will persist.


Collaborative projects, workshops, and performances create a dynamic space for artistic exchange, and inspiration, enriching the global percussion community and contributing to the ongoing evolution of traditional arts and oral knowledge.

Challenges Facing Traditional Arts

The intrusion of modern communication forms has led to a decline in oral transmission and interest in traditional arts and oral knowledge. A whole generation impacted by the internet has created a preference for digital and synthesized sounds, carried by the commercialization of music.

These 400-old streets are now one of the centers of tourism in Bahia, but fewer traditional artists are seen than before. Source: Opanije.com Archives

This has not overshadowed the cultural richness, tradition, and artistry behind traditional arts as the significance of these ancient practices is based on ancestral technology.

One of the most pressing concerns is the aging population of master practitioners and the gap between the oral transmission of traditional artist knowledge and the new generation, social media, and communication technology, threatening the survival of these classical art forms.

Efforts to Preserve and Promote Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge in Percussion

Despite these challenges, various initiatives are underway to preserve and promote traditional arts, crafts, and oral knowledge in percussion, dance, and other art forms.

Organizations and educational institutions worldwide are working to document, record, and archive these valuable classical art forms and national heritages, ensuring their accessibility to future generations.

Traditional visual art: Fibers or palha da costa in front of a house door

Even these Fibers in front of the Doors hold cultural significance. To understand culture you must know how to read the world.

Workshops, masterclasses, and cultural exchange programs are also being organized to facilitate the transmission of knowledge from past master practitioners to the next generation of students and enthusiasts.


Engaging Communities in Preserving and Promoting Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge in Percussion


The involvement of local communities in the preservation and promotion of traditional arts and oral knowledge is indispensable.

By supporting and celebrating local musicians and Master Teachers, communities can help maintain these art forms.

Cultural festivals, local performances, and community and artist-led workshops can create opportunities for master practitioners to share and express their knowledge and skills, inspiring younger generations to learn and preserve these traditions.

Brazilian Traditional Art Sculpture

There are a variety of traditional Arts to be learned

Forging collaborations and partnerships among individuals, organizations, and educational institutions can significantly contribute to the preservation and promotion of traditional dance, visual arts (the production of Drums and accessories), and oral knowledge in percussion.

Traditional Craftsman

Traditional craftsmen make Drums which are works of art.

These alliances can facilitate the sharing of resources, knowledge, and expertise, enabling more extensive and impactful initiatives.

Moreover, learning and engaging with traditional ways of percussion can enhance cognitive and motor skills, encouraging creativity, focus, and discipline among students.


The Impact of Traditional Arts and Oral Knowledge in Percussion on Contemporary Music

By integrating elements from technology, modern art and music, and traditional percussion practices into their work, contemporary musicians can forge innovative artistic practices.

The preservation and promotion of traditional arts and oral knowledge in percussion are vital for sustaining our varied cultural legacy and nurturing a sense of unity and comprehension among people.


By tackling the challenges and seizing the opportunities provided by technology, and cooperation, we can ensure the continued prosperity of these artistic expressions, captivating and bonding people across time and cultures.

As individuals, communities, and organizations, we all have a part in protecting and appreciating the dynamic traditions, not as folk music, but as the ancestral heritage of humanity, securing this knowledge for the present day and future generations.

What are Traditional Arts, and where can you learn about them? Opanije.com is a platform where traditional arts are approached in Brazilian, Afro-diasporic, and African cultural foundations. Africa is home to the oldest civilizations, and many cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. Brazil is the largest Black Nation outside of Africa. It is also home to one of the most iconic blends of cultural influences in the World, as well as hundreds of indigenous people. These regions are deeply artistic and are prime examples for what are Traditional Arts.

Preserving, sharing, and maintaining the culture is what traditional arts are about.
Especially after the pandemic, traditional culture and its guardians are sustaining a very burden, with material life conditions becoming increasingly harder. Pop and American culture dominate social media and established media outlets, while traditional culture depends on the community and oral engagement. Opanije.com aims therefore at being an important social instrument and needs your partnership to create positive change.Based on our original mentoring system, a translator is working individually which each student to ascertain their exact doubts and difficulties. They are native speakers, and will translate feedback towards the students with preciseness. This builds a continuous relationship between students and teachers, where they share information, advice and much more.

Get your Brazilian Groove on!

We offer a percussion course that features direct contact with a Master Teacher!

You can start learning with traditional style teachings: no theory or textbooks!

Learn by oral teaching methods: Discover a new way to understand Rhythm!

To Observe and listen are the basic principle upon which our teachers, and their teacher, and so on for several generations, learned, and so can you!

You can also check out our Shop, to find Atabaques, Pandeiros, Agogôs, Caxixis, and many other Brazilian instruments, each one made by master craftsmen such as Mestre Dinho, from Pelourinho in Salvador.

Free Trial on our Course

Instrument Shop

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