Also:       agogo      

Contextual Associations

The agogô is a bell idiophone associated with Afro-Brazilian culture of Brazil. It is used alongside the berimbau and other instruments to accompany capoeira and also for African-derived religious practices such as candomblé. The agogô has also become a standard instrument in samba baterias. Many Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian popular music artists include the agogô in their rhythmic sections, especially when Afro-Brazilian rhythms or grooves are incorporated into songs. International percussion instrument manufacturers such as Latin Percussion (LP) market ‘industrialized’ versions of the agogô (see second photo in gallery) for sale to percussionists in general.


The agogô consists of two cone-shaped iron bells with their apexes connected by a common handle made from a hook-shaped iron rod. The bells differ in size, but are both made from fan-shaped pieces of sheet iron rolled into cones with the resulting seams welded together. The tips of these cones are then welded to the ends of the handle so that the larger bell extends further forward than the smaller one. The rod beater can be made either from wood or iron.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The player grips the agogô in one hand so that the handle is in his palm, the openings of the bells are facing away from him, and the smaller bell is above the larger one. The beater, held in the other hand, is used to strike the upward facing sides of the bells near their rims. The bells produce two tones the precise frequencies of which are not a concern, only that one is relatively higher in pitch than the other (the interval between the bells of the first instrument pictured here is approximately a M3). Typically the instrument is used to perform an iterative rhythmic pattern throughout a performance of a given repertoire item.


Agogô’ is originally an African word, used by the Yoruba, Igala, and Edo peoples of Nigeria to signify a single or double clapperless bell. (Gourley et al, p.33) African slaves brought the word agogô and the instrumental concept to the Americas, where it was resurrected and utilized both in form and function over time as circumstances permitted and practices evolved.

Bibliographic Citations

Béhague, Gerard. 1998. "Afro-Brazilian Traditions." In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v.2. ed. Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy. New York: Garland Publishing, pp. 340-355.

Fryer, Peter. 2000. Rhythms of Resistance: African Musical Heritage in Brazil. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.

Gourlay, K. a., and John M. Schechter. 1984. "Agogo." NGDMI v.1: 32-33.

McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 2009. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Reily, Suzel Ana. 1998. "Brazil: Central and Southern Areas." In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music v.2. ed. Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy. New York: Garland Publishing, pp. 300-322.


Instrument Information


Continent: Americas

Region: South America

Nation: Brazil

Formation: Afro-Brazilian

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

111.242.221 idiophone--set of suspended bells struck from the outside

Design and Playing Features

Category: idiophone

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Basic form of sonorous object/s for idiophone: bell-shaped vessel - with opening

Sound objects per instrument: two sounded discretely

Resonator design: sonorous object itself is a general resonating space

Number of players: one

Sounding principle: striking - direct

Sound exciting agent: beater/s - stick/s with unpadded tip/s

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Pitch of sound produced: relative pitch

Sound modification: none


10 in. length 5.6 in. length (larger bell) 2.7 in. diameter of rim (larger bell) 4.6 in. length (smaller bell) 2 in. diameter of rim (smaller bell)

Primary Materials



Latin Percussion (second instrument)


LP231B (second instrument)

Entry Author

Roger Vetter