Coco is an African-influenced musical rhythm that originated in Northern Brazil. "Coco" may also refer to the style of dance performed to the music, a kind of stomping.
The name "Coco" (Portuguese for "coconut") is a common Northeastern Brazilian slang for head, referring to the fact that song lyrics are often improvised. Coco is often performed with a repetitive musical beat and call and response singing reminiscent of Capoeira music. The music is commonly performed at traditional parties in the Northeast, such as weekend street parties and Carnival. Coco is also alternatively known as "embolada" (another slang word, meaning "entangling", referring to the fast, slurred, machine-gun style of singing).
The characteristic sound of coco arises from four instruments commonly used in its performance: the ganzá, surdo, pandeiro, and triangle. Performers also often wear wooden clogs, the stomping of which adds a fifth percussive element.
The origins of coco are as obscure as most Brazilian folk music, but some theories do exist. One theory is that the predecessor to the music was originally brought to Brazil by slaves from Angola, who then created coco by merging their music with local indigenous rhythms. Another theory is that coco was created by Brazilian slaves who broke coconuts with rocks for their masters.