continental drift 9/11/23 – cabo verde

Today, we’re switching back over to the Western hemisphere to talk about Cabo Verde! You can find the playlist here and listen back to the episode here.

The Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country off the west coast of Africa, consisting of a ten-island archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of almost 600 thousand, its population is 172nd in terms of size, but interestingly, far more Cabo Verdeans exist outside of Cabo Verde than in it. The official language of Cape Verde is Portuguese, though most Cape Verdeans additionally speak a Portuguese-based creole language which is actually significant from a linguistics standpoint as the oldest extant creole language.

The islands that make up Cabo Verde were actually completely uninhabited until the Portuguese set up shop on the island of Santiago in 1462. Eventually, as more Europeans started jumping on the transatlantic bandwagon, Cape Verde began to flourish economically, as their placement made them very useful for the slave trade. As tends to occur, the slave trade led to the fusion of European and African cultural elements, resulting in an emergent cultural identity that includes the music of today’s episode.

Funaná Segment

Bitori Nha Bininha // Bitori

Ká Bô Bem Dzoriental // Tchiss Lopes

Odio Sem Valor // Pedrinho

All 3 of the previous songs belong to a genre of music called funaná, which is very heavily associated with accordions that are usually accompanied rhythmically by an instrument called a ferrinho (literally, “little iron”), which is a metal bar that you can whack or scrape with another metal object. On top of that, though, it has a sort of characteristic rhythmic element to it. There’s multiple types of funaná, but the most popular type has a rhythmic setup that looks something like the picture below this paragraph:


A common funaná rhythm

All of this episode’s music genres have some kind of characteristic rhythm to them, as we’ll see the further we progress.

Batuque Segment

Dispidida // Mayra Andrade

Maria Julia // Gil Semedo

Batuque is characterized by a triple-meter rhythm that looks like this:


Batuque rhythm

Batuque encodes a 3:2 polyrhythm in the songs, either implicitly or explicitly, so there’ll be one percussion part keeping 3/4 time, and then either the rhythm of the song or a second percussion part will highlight a secondary rhythm that completes 2 evenly-spaced beats every time the main rhythm completes 3 evenly-spaced beats. The other Cabo Verdean genres don’t have this tendency, so it’s cool to see it arise somewhere!

Coladeira Segment

Tchapeu di padja // Simentera

Beju Cu Jetu // Rene Cabral

One of the more recent Cabo Verdean genres is coladeira, which tends to have a somewhat lively tempo and lyrics. Its rhythmic pattern can vary, but in general will tend to look like either of the following patterns:

Coladeira Rhythm 1

Coladeira Rhythm 2

Coladeira is unique among this episode’s genres because it actually gets its sound from a different Cabo Verdean genre known as morna.

Morna Segment

Petit pays // Cesaria Evora

Pontin Pontin // Bana

Both of the artists featured in this segment are well-known internationally; Cesaria Evora herself is the best-known Morna artist outside of Cabo Verde. Morna is like the “signature” music of Cabo Verde, simply because of how popular it and its performers are both inside and outside of the country. Morna tends to have a slow, somber feel, with wistful, emotionally heavy themes like love and longing and missing your home. Morna and coladeira are actually pretty similar rhythmically, it’s just that coladeira is played with a faster tempo.

Last Song Because I Wanted It But Couldn’t Easily Categorize It

Afeto // Mayra Andrade

And that’ll be the episode!