Cape Verde Islands
Discovered by Portuguese explorers in 1460, the Cape Verde islands were a colony until independence 1973.
The Portuguese named the islands Cabo Verde after the nearby Cap Vert on the Senegalese coast. In the 16th century the archipelago prospered from the transatlantic trade in people, and pirates favoured this area and occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements. Sir Francis Drake sacked Ribeira Grande in 1585. With the decline in the slave trade, Cape Verde's early prosperity slowly vanished. However, the islands' position astride mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made Cape Verde an ideal location for re-supplying ships. Because of its excellent harbour, Mindelo became an important commercial centre during the 19th century.
In 1951 Portugal changed Cape Verde's status from a colony to an overseas province in an attempt to blunt growing unrest. Nevertheless, in 1956, a group of Cape Verdeans and Guineans organised the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde(PAIGC), which demanded improvement in economic, social and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea and formed the basis of the two nations' independence movement. Moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal in 1961. By 1975 democracy was in its infancy, and by the 1990s a fully fledged multi party democratic state had been created.
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 contrived or performance based. Like West African Senegal and The Gambia, rather it is part of the very essence of island life. There are predominantly three kinds of music. The Morna is believed to have its genesis on the island of Boa Vista and it is 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. The Batuko as a spectacle is quite incredible. Its origins are African and is 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. Finally 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. Many of today's Cape Verde musicians acknowledge the Portuguese and African influences, and are producing seminal work while developing a seriously happening genre!
Music from Cape Verde