Inside Cape Verde Funaná, Cape Verde’s forbidden music


Funaná, Cape Verde's forbidden music

When people think of Cape Verde, the beautiful white sandy beaches and the clean blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean are often the first things that come up to their mind.

Second is the music. Music and dance is a very important part of the Cape Verdean culture, if not the most important part. If you went on holiday to this new tropical tourism hotspot just off the West-African, you must have noticed the passion and love which Cape Verdeans have for music. If you went on holiday to Cape Verde, chances are big that you stayed at the RIU Funaná Resort on the Island of Sal, one of the first big 5-star-resorts in Cape Verde, named after the popular music styles the islands offer. Music provided hope and joy to the Cape Verdean people, also during times when hope and joy may have seemed difficult to achieve for them.

Cape Verde's musical heritage consists of much more than Cesariá Évora

True, when thinking of Cape Verde and music, the name of the late legend Cesária Évora is probably the first thing that crosses your mind. Her melancholic Morna-ballads conquered the world and helped to mainstream World Music.

But Morna is only one Cape Verdean music style of many. Funaná, another well-known Cape Verdean music style, has been at least as influential as Morna and its influences can be found in today's modern Urban Dance styles amongst others.

Funaná kept hope and smiles on Cape Verdean faces even during the toughest times

Funaná was a forbidden music style during the Portuguese colonialist occupation of the islands, because considered to be subversive, and is a accordion-based style that evolved from the African slave music in rural communities. The lyrics of the funaná generally talk about the sorrows and happiness of everyday's life, but also reflect social criticism. Lyrics are not made in a direct way, but frequently use figures of speech, proverbs and popular sayings. To understand them, one must have a deep knowledge of the Cape Verdean popular culture and language.

Recent composers like Ferro Gaita, one of Cape Verde's largest musical institutions have expanded the themes. This enable Ferro Gaita to become true ambassadors of Funaná music and honored it on international circuits.

Victor Tavares, better known as Bitori, is also became of the finest performers of this music style, when he was joined by the exuberant young singer Chando Graciosa, with driving bass and drums now providing the rhythm section in place of the traditional ferrinho, a scraped metal bar.

Funaná is also a dance made through alternated quick and strong inflexions of each knee, marking the beats of the rhythm.

Funaná has kept the hope and smiles of the Cape Verdean people alive during the most difficult famines. It enabled them to communicate in metaphors without fearing that foreign occupants could ever understand what they were really singing and dancing about.

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