In capoeira, it is the music which sets the rhythm, style and energy of the game. This crucial element of capoeira has been perfected by using traditional African instruments which have subsequently been mastered over the centuries. Agogo is such an instrument, which initially originated from the Yoruba tribe of West Africa, and dates back to 5th century BC. It actually means gong or bell, and in fact, contains 1 to 4 bells.Within capoeira, the most commonly used agogo leans heavily on the double-belled version. These bells can be either of wood or metal. They differ in sizes from each other and create a different pitch, depending upon which bell is struck. The bells are attached to each other by a U shaped handle. In addition to using a stick to strike the bells, they can also be made to ring against each other by twisting the flexible U shaped handle.
In capoeira, agogo's are mainly used to compliment the rhythm of the game. Their high tone makes them stand out more than the other capoeira instruments, the pandeiro or the atabaque. These two-toned bells, when intelligently used, create complex interlocking sounds once their methods of use have been made perfect. Playing the agogo is rather simple, as the stick is used to strike the bells alternatively to create a high or low tone. The player holds the instrument in his weaker hand with the thumb on the small bell and the fingers curled around the U shaped handle. The wooden or metal stick is held in the other hand. The stick is used to hit the side of the bells in different spots while the handle is used to squeeze the bells together and when necessary. Since the agogo is an instrument of indefinite pitch, care must be taken that its noise does not deafen the sound of other capoeira instruments. Like most bells, the main function of the agogo is to make structural beats within complex rhythmic patterns.