Music in Cape Verde
1 of 1: Music in Cape Verde

Cape Verde Music

Music in Cape Verde is woven into the very fabric of life and it informs and is informed by the often brutal history and culture of the islands; and although it is a ubiquitous presence it never feels stagey or performance based, rather it is part of the very essence of island life.

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During a stay there the subtle rhythms and the delicate melodies of the mornas and the driving surges of the Funanas seep into you almost imperceptibly, and on your return you'll find yourself humming tunes you didn't know you knew and maybe dancing about for no apparent reason....

Below are just some examples of music in Cape Verde:

The Morna

The morna is believed to have its genesis on the island of Boa Vista and it's thought the name derives from the English word mourn or the French morne, meaning sadness; and in its traditional form it is certainly informed by a certain sense of tragedy and melancholy (what the Cape Verdeans call sodade or the longing for home), and one theory has it that it grew out of traditional songs sung by the imported slave population.

It is generally performed with an ensemble of stringed instruments including violins, guitar-like violas and cavaquinhos, a primitive ukulele-like instrument; and whatever the origins, it is a tremendously affecting form and one that is unique to the islands.

The Batuko

The batuko as a spectacle is quite incredible. Its origins are African and it's a form of dancing that is based around complex interlocking drum patterns and generally performed within a circle of female drummers with each dancer gyrating her hips wildly until the drum patterns reach a climax at which point she is replaced by the next dancer.

There is almost a purgative force about the movement of the dancers with the rhythms inducing a trance-like state, and it can be quite overwhelming; not to mention that some of the dancing is so charged with emotion and rythmn, you may end up having to join in!

The Funana

The Funana is also an African sounding song form - and a defiantly anti-colonial one whose home is the island of Santiago. It is based generally around the sound of the accordion and is characterised by surging rhythms and repetitive call-and-response vocal patterns.

It's the kind of thing that nags at you, and eventually you get hooked to it and find yourself swaying and waggling your hips with the best of them. You'll hear it all over the islands, belting out of car windows, on the radio and in the clubs and bars in the towns.

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