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The Rough Guide to the Music of Cape Verde
(World Music Network, 2001)

Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Senegal, is inhabited by the descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves. Because the environment of the islands is inhospitable, many Cape Verdeans have settled elsewhere. For those that remain, music is an important part of life.

The four main styles of Cape Verdean music collected on this CD are are morna, coladeira, batuque and funa'na'. Of these styles, the easiest for the new listener to pick out is morna. Comparable in style to torch songs, these are slow, melancholy love songs. Included here is "Papa Joachin Paris" by Cesaria Evora, whose deep, smoky voice is perfect for the style. "Grito Magoado" by Djurumani is another example. The longing in these songs is easy to hear.

Coladeiras are up-tempo, African-influenced songs originally performed on stringed instruments, though winds and electric instruments are now often used. "Dor Di Amor" by Simentera is an example of this style. If not for the beat, the listener might mistake this for morna; the singer's voice conveys sadness and pain. Grupo De Nilsa Silva's song "Cornologia" is another in the coladeira style; according to the liner notes, this is a song about infidelity, but it has an infectious beat.

Funa'na's are also African-influenced and often employ accordions. Grupo Ferro Gaita's "Fundo Baxa" is an example of this style; the accordion is very much in evidence. Again, this is an extremely upbeat style.

Grupo De Batuque Da Cidade Velha provides an example of batuque with "CPLP." This style relies on percussion and singing. Usually performed by women at ceremonies, the sound of the batuque is extremely joyful.

The music of Cape Verde often deals with the hardships of life in the archipelago. The songs are sung in Kriolu, a creole language. But even though the words might speak of sorrow, longing or hardship, the rhythms demand movement. It is almost impossible to sit still when playing this kind of music and I defy you to try.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 15 September 2001

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