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Cape Verdean Music - The Morna

Mournful Songs of the Slaves

The most famous musical form in the Cape Verdes was developed in many islands but reached its peak of perfection in Mindelo. It was played by slaves on whatever instruments they had to hand, mostly strings and woodwind. Invariably there is a singer, who sings in Crioulu laments to the melancholy (Sodade in Portuguese) of the daily existence. Often the band consists of violinists and guitarists in random numbers and combinations.

Today. the violin remains a central element of the morna. The accompaniment is often relatively soft, consisting typically of a guitar, a cavaquinho, drums, and a bass.

The rhythms and sounds are very similar to the more famous Morras of North-Eastern Brazil or Fados of Portugal.

The name is derived from English "mourn" The genre underwent a strong revival after Cape Verde independence in 1975, but it still essentially draws on a folk culture of African and Portuguese musical styles.