The speed and rhythm of the instruments tells the players whether to play more cooperatively or more competitively, whether to use close ground maneuvers or fast acrobatic movements.
The songs sometimes comment on the game (for example, if one player gets taken down, the leader might sing a bananeira caiu – “the banana tree fell”) or give instructions to the players (for example, if the players are going too fast, the leader might sing devagar, devagar – “slowly, slowly”). The song leader might also improvise lyrics to speak specifically about the capoeiristas or the situation in the roda.
Finally, capoeira songs represent a rich oral tradition. Their lyrics express much history, philosophy, and wisdom, often through metaphors.