Viola Caipira

Name: Viola Caipira.
Type: Chordophones > Composite > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Brazil.
Region: South America.

Description: The viola caipira, often simply viola, Portuguese for country guitar, it is a Brazilian ten-string guitar with five courses of strings arranged pairs or double-strings. It was introduced in the state of São Paulo, where it is widely played as the basis for the música caipira, a type of ‘folk’ music originating in the caipira country of south-central Brazil.

Origins: The origins of the viola caipira are obscure, but evidence suggests it evolved from the vihuela / viola de mano that Spanish and Portuguese settlers took to the new world. It shares similarities with the 5 course baroque guitar, that elsewhere evolved into the modern guitar.

It is likely a descendant of one of the many folk guitars that have traditionally been played in Portugal. The viola braguesa and viola amarantina, for instance, are two types of ten-string guitars from the north of Portugal, which are closely related to the viola caipira.


Portuguese tunings of the viola caipira:

A / E / F# / B / E
G / D / E / A / D [one tone lower] than the above tuning.

Boiadeira tuning

G / D / F# / A / D

Rio-abaixo tuning:

G / D / G / B / D

Citations: Bibliography: Moura, Reis 2000. Descomplicando a Viola: Método Básico de Viola Caipira [in Portuguese] by the author ed. Brasília. p. 62. ISBN 85-901637-1-7 ; Corrêa, Roberto 2000. A Arte de Pontear Viola [in Portuguese] by the author ed. Brasília. p. 259. ISBN 85-901603-1-9. Websites:

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