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Construction of a Creole Identity in Cabo Verde: Insights from ‘Morna’, a Traditional Form of Music

Kay AOKI , Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, University of Kyoto


1. Introduction

The Cabo Verdean islands were uninhabited at the time of their discovery in 1460. Today, Cabo Verde consists of two groups of islands: the windward islands called the islands of Barlavento comprising Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista, and the leeward islands called the islands of Sotavento comprising Brava, Fogo, Santiago and Maio. The capital of the Republic of Cabo Verde is Praia, situated in the island of Santiago, the largest island in Cabo Verde. However, Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, the main port of the republic, is seen as the cultural capital.

Fig. 1. Map of the Cabo Verdean Islands

In their short history of approximately five hundred years, the people who lived in the islands have gradually created a new category of people, language, culture and society from naught, which is expressed by the term ‘creole’. The islands experienced more than four hundred years of slavery. During the period of slavery, Cabo Verde was geographically important for navigators bound for Africa or the Americas since it is situated between the three continents of Europe, Africa and America. Before going on to their final destination navigators would call into Cabo Verde to take on supplies of food and water; as did Colombo in 1498, Cabral (the discoverer of Brazil) in 1500 and Magellan in 1552 (Peixeira 2003: 23).

Thus, the unique Cabo Verde ethnicity based on the language and the cultural heritage that developed among the people of the islands were, ironically, embedded in the oppressive context of slavery and colonialism.

In contrast to the harsh realities of slavery, today, creole has come to give substantial meaning to an ideology which expresses the independent identity of the people of Cabo Verde. The islanders express this ‘creoleness’ in the transmission of their music. This is especially so in morna, which is the only popular music played in every single island. Morna is, according to Moacyr Rodrigues and Isabel Lobo who are among the most prominent researchers of morna, “a text (composition of dance, music, poems) with narrative, lyrical, descriptive and satirical functions that combines with forms of expression as the dialogue, monologue, reflection and the commentary, in a direct and indirect form of manifest” (Rodrigues and Lobo 1996: 31). Pedro Cardoso (1890-1942), a Cabo Verdean writer, defines the music as “the melody in which the slaves alleviate the bitterness of being exiled by force, and the folksong that the emigrants or the seafarers sing, the saudade of their distant homeland, which spreading and merging produces the morna and its rhythm which polarizes the Cabo Verdean Spirit” (Cardoso 1933: 19).

2. Social Movement and Evolution of Morna

Morna is a musical genre performed in Cabo Verdean Creole (CVC) on all of the islands of Cabo Verde. Basically, morna can be divided into several periods according to the evolution of its musical formation (Tavares 2005; Gonçalves 2006). Therefore, in order to analyze the movements according to the evolution of the music, I propose dividing morna into five periods as follows[1]:

1) the original creativity of the great literary poet Eugénio Tavares (1890-1930)

2) cosmopolitan influence and the great composer B.Léza (1930-1960)

3) the use of electric instruments and the revolutionary composer Manuel de Novas (1960-1992)

4) internationalization through the works of Cesária Évora (1992-2011)

5) coexistence of traditional and modern morna (2011 onwards)

The discussion of the development of periods 1 to 4 is mainly based on the research of Carlos Filipe Gonçalves (2006). Whereas that of period 5 is from my personal field notes and interviews. There are, as yet, no supporting documents.

2.1. Period of the great literary poet Eugénio Tavares (1890-1930)

Eugénio Tavares (1867-1930) is recognized as one of the greatest poets of Cabo Verde. Though morna had existed before Tavares, he was considered the pioneer of morna as a musical genre, and his songs are generally accepted as being amongst the most poignant.

Morna in this period expressed a pessimistic, negative side of life, albeit influenced by romanticism. It had a very slow, sad and somewhat sensual melody, as in the tango of Argentina and certain Brazilian songs. Morna is fundamentally an expression of sodade which, according to the Oxford Dictionary (2015), means “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament”. Probably, in the early twentieth century, sodade was a sentiment expressing sadness or nostalgia, in other words a pessimistic, therefore lugubrious, vision of life. Nonetheless, Tavares succeeded in giving morna a more romantic tone by his use not only of Portuguese but more especially of CVC[2], this allowed him to explore sentiments specific to Cabo Verde such as cretcheu (an expression of love) as it is expressed in the morna “Força de Cretcheu” (Appendix I.1). The term cretcheu is one of the core concepts in morna (Aoki 2013). We could see in the words of the song that ‘cretcheu’ and ‘love’ are expressed distinctly. Cretcheu can mean ‘lover’ or ‘love’ which shows its difference from ‘love’; it has a wider meaning than ‘love’. However, cretcheu expressed in this poem indicates only the meaning of ‘lover’. It could be pointed out that cretcheu has a deep sense of the expression of ‘love’ in CVC.

The most important point to note of this period is that morna written in CVC were an expression of Cabo Verdean creole identity.

2.2. Period of cosmopolitan influence and the great composer B. Léza (1930-1960)

The composer Francisco Xaxier da Cruz, known as B. Léza, developed the harmonic structure of morna by introducing the ‘Brazilian half-tone’ (meio-tom brasileiro). This is a pass chord between the two fundamental chords that give morna a more rhythmical harmony line. B. Léza modified the structural aspect of morna whereas previously, Eugénio Tavares had placed prime importance on the lyrics.

The ‘Brazilian half-tone’ was, as it is named, an influence of the Brazilian musicians. In the first half of the twentieth century, the island of São Vicente was greatly influenced by the outside world, especially Brazil, as this is where the principal port, Porto Grande, was established. A simple look at the demographics (Lobban and Saucier 2007: 209) shows just how tremendously the population increased as the island grew in contact with the outside world: from 6,666 inhabitants in 1890 to 14,639 inhabitants by 1930, which is more than double the original population. By the 1960s, towards the end of the period of B. Léza, the population had increased to 32,161 people. It goes without saying that the islanders of São Vicente were exposed to the influence of many different cultures as the port continued to be the stopping point on journeys between Europe and Latin America.

Nogueira reports that “the ships had their own musical group […] which had many cultural exchanges and the inter-influence has been taken place” (Nogueira 2005: 35). Evidently, the ‘Brazilian half-tone’ was introduced by Brazilian guitarists (one of the musical groups Nogueira mentions). She continues, “the Brazilian influence had a grand impact for the young people of that period, as they adopted new styles, ways of talking, music and dance” (Nogueira 2005: 35).

On the other hand, the tradition of dancing morna was still present as Gonçalves indicates: “the morna was called bailes nacionais (national dance) that represent well the sentiment of morna. […] It was played always very late […] until three o’clock at night sometimes” (Gonçalves 2006: 96). At the same time, at dawn, morna played as a serenade was also present as a tradition. A musician, originally from the island of São Vicente, explains how this form of morna was played, “The serenade only begins at dawn. [Or] if somebody emigrates we play the serenade of farewell […] (Appendix II.1).

In the beginning of the fifties, morna was still played well into the dawn after dancing throughout the night. Eugénio Tavares states that on the island of Santo Antão, morna, though very melancholic, was also music for dancing (Tavares 1932: 9). The environment of morna had not changed greatly since the period of Eugénio Tavares. Nevertheless, morna as a dance would decline by the 1970s (Gonçalves 2006: 96).

2.3. Period of electric instruments and the revolutionary composer Manuel de Novas (1960-1990)

Electric instruments were introduced in the 1960s, and Manuel de Novas began to gain recognition towards the end of the decade. There are two points of note in the evolution of morna in this period: there was the introduction of electric instruments that increased the sound range, and especially there was the form of playing morna as popular music for social protest exemplified by the works of Manuel de Novas (1937-2009), a renowned composer of both morna and coladeira[3].

Before this period the instruments were very simple. Basically, they comprised the acoustic guitar, violin, and particularly the cavaquinho. However, during this period the range expanded greatly to include electric guitars, percussion instruments, pianos and amplifiers. Previously, morna was played as a serenade at night or into the dawn hours, but during this period it changed to being performed on stage by music bands. As a result the serenade gradually disappeared.

The fact that he was a grand composer of the two musical genres, influenced respectively by B. Léza (master of morna) and Ti Goy (master of coladeira), Manuel de Novas had a particular style in his songs of morna which aided the evolution of the musical style. Filinto Elíseo explains that Manuel de Novas and his work represent a “very successful fusion of Cabo Verdean poems, in a broad sense, an artist who, concomitantly, is close to the contemporary musicians (Betú, Nhelas, Spencer, Antero Simas, etc.) and to the classical musicians (Eugénio Tavares, B. Léza, etc.)” (cited from Monteiro 2003: 134). Similarly, Humbertona states that “the musician has a poetic line of B. Léza and the irony of Ti Goy” (cited from Monteiro 2003: 134).

In effect, as we have seen in the romantic morna of Eugénio Tavares and the ‘Brazilian half-tone’ (accelerated rhythmically) of B. Léza, the introduction of an ironic side[4] in morna was an additional original part of the development of morna introduced by Manuel de Novas.

Manuel de Novas is considered a revolutionary for his criticism of society, especially with his themes such as “colonialism, praise of Independence and social protest” (Monteiro 2003: 119), which relate to the 1975 independence of Cabo Verde. The mornaGote Pintode” composed by Manuel de Novas (Appendix I.2) is a good example of protest and criticism.

In an interview conducted by Gonçalves (2006: 106), Manuel de Novas explains he wrote “Gote Pintode” “in order to criticize the situation of our music that had a tendency of going towards a dangerous path. It criticizes the people who made the commercial system in music [in Cabo Verde]. It was losing the thread of the Cabo Verdean music” (Gonçalves 2006: 106). Thus, the song tells how people (and musicians) came to lose the original spirit of morna.

This socio-situation has to be researched more precisely by comparing the actual movements or compositions created by the musicians. Yet, it illustrates that in this period of morna, the influences of the commercial system, which is evident in the increasing dominance of electric instruments, contributed to a decline in the former spirit of morna as lamented in the words of the poem, “ Do not upset the spirits of Tavares and B. Léza”.

2.4. Period of internationalization through the works of Cesária Évora (1992-2011)

Known as the Barefoot Diva, Cesária Évora is the most world-famous Cabo Verdean singer. Cesária Évora recorded her first album in 1988 in France but she really shot to fame in 1992 by singing sodade, a typical CVC sentiment, and it was through this extraordinary hit that Cabo Verdean people finally gained a means of expressing their identity to the outside world.

From the beginnings of morna, it had been the poets and composers who had developed the music by modifying the harmony or the themes. With the Barefoot Diva, for the first time it was a performer, a singer, who added to the development of the genre without changing either the musical structure or the theme, but simply through the power of her voice to express the deep feelings unique to the Cabo Verdean people through her representative morna, “Sodade” (Appendix I.3).

Historically, innumerable Cabo Verdean people were sent to São Tomé e Príncipe. Lesourd affirms that the number of the people who were sent abroad from Cabo Verde was about 87,385 between 1920 and 1970 (Lesourd, 1995: 274). However, around 79,392 Cabo Verdeans were sent out to São Tomé (ibid.). In the lyrics of songs, the longings for their homeland of people who were sent to São Tomé from the island of São Nicolau, where their family or cretcheu, lovers, still lived were poignantly expressed.

The feeling of sodade was constantly present in the history of Cabo Verde; during the period of slavery when the people were sold to the Americas and Europe, during the periods of famine[5] when they had to escape to other countries and also during World War I and II when the islanders were forced to enter the military with the consequence that many emigrated to other countries. Sodade can be observed as an important expression of the feelings of the people in Cabo Verde when we look at its historical context.

As a result of Cesária Évora’s popularity, tourists began flocking to the islands, bringing an important source of revenue. This is especially so for the island of São Vicente which is the main tourist destination as not only is it the birthplace of Cesária Évora but also the site of numerous music festivals, including a major yearly carnival. In fact, music is everywhere - in the roads, the local bars, the tourist hotels, and homes. As a consequence, the commerce of music in São Vicente has given rise to a style of ‘modern morna’ (see section 2.5) that is played very often in hotels or restaurants. Also, the expression sodade seems to attract tourists as it can be seen everywhere in the city.

This brings us to the present day and the period of coexistence of traditional and modern morna.

2.5. Period of coexistence of traditional/modern morna (2011 onwards)

When we consider the various developments that morna has undergone, as a general tendency, it would seem that today it is the singers and performers who are more important than the poets or composers.

There are many who claim that all the great poets are dead. People listen to the old, traditional morna on the radio. Many people still play morna on an acoustic guitar in their houses, in the local bars or in the streets. On the other hand, there are people who play morna with electric instruments to tourists to earn their living. This is the socio-situation of today’s morna. One of the musicians, Musician A, who was interviewed during fieldwork (Appendix II.2) is convinced that society and everyday life have greatly changed when we look at the current situation of morna “... society and the way people live has been changing somewhat... [compared to] the past at least, I can find a different form of morna to what people feel now…”.

As we have seen above, the style of morna used to be different from that of today. To cite Baltasar Lopes, the change can “roughly be fixed in the 1930s when morna was significant as a kind of folklore and not urban or urbanized” (cited from Gonçalves 2006: 92).

Previously, the musical genre was different as morna was ‘folklore’ instead of a ‘popular’ music (folklore music ↔ popular music). The morna as a ‘folklore’ could be a substitute for the ‘traditional morna’, and the morna as a ‘popular’ music could be considered as ‘modern morna’.

At this point, it is necessary to explain first of all in what situation morna can be said to be ‘folklore’ (traditional morna) and secondly, when it can be considered to be ‘popular music’ (modern morna).

From the quotation above and in works published in the same period, for instance Eugénio Tavares’ “Mornas Cantigas Crioulas” (1932), and Pedro Cardoso’s, “Folclore Caboverdeano” (1933), it is clear that morna was considered an expression of folklore which could be defined as ‘traditional morna’. If morna, in the beginning, was folklore as Baltasar Lopes mentions, and the connection between folklore and morna, that Cardoso and Tavares make, is significant; then, a typical style characteristic of the music should be apparent. As Gonçalves explains in the beginning of the 1950s “the environment of morna had almost not changed since the period of Eugénio Tavares” (Gonçalves 2006: 96), although it is clear the harmonic structure had evolved in the period of B. Léza. Thus, ‘traditional morna’ designated as folklore is customarily played and performed in daily life and it is central to the culture of Cabo Verdean people. The central cultural role of morna can be seen in the documentary film “Alma ta Fika”, produced by Paulo de Sousa and Luís Martins in 1989 which illustrates the prominence of the periods of Eugénio Tavares and B. Léza. “Alma ta Fika” describes the socio-cultural situation in the 1970s and 1980s which is just after independence in the period of Manuel de Novas. At the end of the film, people are shown playing a morna serenade.

In the other type of morna, the ‘modern morna’, the aspect of ‘folklore’ is almost absent as it is a performance for an audience where the performers earn a salary, similar to popular music. Today, with the growth of tourism, ‘modern morna’ has become much more prominent in the islands. With regards to the musicians[6] themselves, they perform morna (frequently the ‘modern morna’) for their pleasure as it is part of their cultural identity, albeit they also play for the tourists[7]. The majority of musicians are paid to perform but the earnings are not enough to live on, therefore their principal wage earning work is done elsewhere during the day at a wide range of jobs. At night, the musicians stand on stage and play music (very often the coladeira and the morna). In the case of ‘modern morna’ the instruments are mainly electric guitar, bass, piano/electric piano, drum, percussion, and cavaquinho.

It is still difficult to give a precise definition of ‘modern morna’ as it is still in the process of development. What is of note in this type of morna, is the fusion with other musical genres as bossa nova, jazz, fado, and classical music. This mixed morna is sometimes called morna-jazz, morna-classic, morna-fado or even ‘fusion music’. An example of morna-classic can be heard in the “Eclipse”[8] of Chico Serra and morna-fado in the “Beijo de Saudade” of Mariza and Tito Paris. There are countless examples of morna-jazz[9] and morna-bossa. This kind of ‘fusion music’ is becoming common in restaurants and hotels.

It is not only from the musical structure but also from the form of singing that we can identify the image of this ‘fusion music’. However, there are some musicians who do not agree that the new type of morna, the ‘fusion morna’, is authentic. I would cite here a precise example: “as the morna-samba has enough of a slow rhythm of 4/4, it cannot be a kind of morna” (Musician A). Nonetheless the same musician mentions that “here in Cabo Verde, we have always had outside influences, especially here in São Vicente which was the cultural centre thanks to the port, […], moreover, Brazilian music is part of our culture as we have coladeira-samba” (Musician A) (Appendix II.3). Historically, the island of São Vicente was influenced by various cultures and therefore Brazilian music naturally entered into the morna as we have seen in the period of B. Léza, and thus, subsequently, a fusion of coladeira and samba was created, but not with the morna. However, singer B tries to explain in the interview (Appendix II.4) the difference between fusion music and the modern morna, or new form of morna (e.g. morna-jazz) “you can keep the morna by keeping the tonality and the staves… when it is fusion [music] every musician plays in their own style…”.

There are three facts to be noted from these interviews: there is a difference between ‘fusion music’ (morna-classic) and morna; the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern morna’ need to co-exist by keeping a balance; and especially, depending on the people of Cabo Verde, ‘fusion morna’ could be considered either a type of morna or simply as ‘fusion music’ which should not be considered morna at all.

As a consequence, although ‘modern morna’ is still not defined as a musical style, it is a fact that the two types of morna, the ‘traditional’ and the ‘modern morna’, co-exist in today’s Cabo Verdean culture. The ‘traditional morna’ continues the sense of musical ‘folklore’ whenever ‘traditional morna’ is sung, accompanied principally by acoustic guitars or simple instruments, in the streets, in homes, in the local bars and wherever people meet by chance. At the same time, the salient ‘modern morna’ is becoming more and more developed; when it is performed on stages with electric instruments in tourist hotels and in restaurants by musicians, the audiences are tourists alongside local people. Thus, while ‘traditional morna’ is ‘folklore’ music, ‘modern morna’ is ‘popular’ music. Very often ‘modern morna’ has a characteristic of a mixture with other musical genres. Lastly, local people seem perplexed with ‘fusion music’ because the development or the appearance of this musical style has never been experienced before. These differences are tangible criteria of the coexistence of two types of morna.

3. Conclusion

The discussion of this research paper has focused on the evolution of the creole music, morna, in order to shed light on the importance of ‘creoleness’ in Cabo Verde by analyzing the lyrics diachronically.

I sought to explain how people react as their national music is modified in a radical way. Thereby, the discussion was divided into the five periods[10]:

1) the original creativity of the great literary poet Eugénio Tavares (1890-1930)

2) cosmopolitan influence and the great composer B.Léza (1930-1960)

3) the use of electric instruments and the revolutionary composer Manuel de Novas (1960-1992)

4) internationalization through the works of Cesária Évora (1992-2011)

5) coexistence of traditional and modern morna (2011 onwards)

In summary, the periods 1 to 3 could be seen as one set as these periods of morna were basically dominated by poets and composers. In this period, morna was played as ‘folklore’. Thus, to play the morna in streets, houses and bars was a custom of daily life according to the culture of the Cabo Verdean people. I referred to this type of morna as traditional morna. The other set, 4 and 5, is a completely different environment. It is sung on stages in restaurants and tourist hotels and paid musicians create a new style by introducing external and internal elements in morna. I referred to this type as modern morna. This type of morna is still continuing to evolve which renders it difficult to define clearly at this moment. However, an interesting aspect of its development is in the different reactions of the people of Cabo Verde. On the one hand, there are people who are looking to create a new style of morna, while on the other there are those who are perplexed by this radical change to the traditional form.

Possibly, ‘modern morna’ is not only fusing as morna-fado, morna-classic, and other forms but also integrating external and internal musical elements in accordance with its fundamental syncretic form. However, there is no precise conclusion as to how external and internal elements will continue to be introduced into morna.

However, this study could be a basic initial step towards a precise examination of the classification of morna as well as a musicological observation of the mixed elements of morna.

Appendix I
Full Lyrics of Morna Cited (original CVC with English translation)

AI.1 Lyrics of the MornaForça de Cretcheu’ composed by Eugénio Tavares
Força de Cretcheu

Ca tem nada na es bida
Más grande que amor.
Se Deus ca tem medida,
Amor inda é maior...
Amor inda é maior,
Maior que mar, que ceu:
Mas, entre otos cretcheu,
De meu inda é maior.
The Force of Cretcheu

There is nothing in this life
Bigger than love.
If God cannot be measured,
Love is even greater...
Love is even greater,
Greater than the Ocean or the sky:
But, among other cretcheu(s),
Mine is even greater.

(Translated by the author of this paper)
AI.2 Lyrics of the MornaGote Pintode’ composed by Manuel de Novas
Gote Pintode

Hoje tud gote pintode
Ê um compositor na nôs terra
Jas proveita viração d’história
Jas forma campanha
Pa bem sassina nôs música
Co melodia robod
Na gente de porli
Na gente de porla

Se música ê spedjo
Di cultura di um povo
Ca nôs fusila nos morna e coladera
Ca nô sassina cultura dess povo
Ca nô contraria
Espirito di Tavares e B.Léza

Si morna morrê
Nôs ligria ja caba
Ronco di violão
Nôs luar nôs serenata
Ta fca sepultado na noites di história
Si cretcheu morrê
Cabo Verde tambê ja morrê
Daubed Cat

Today any daubed cat
Is a composer in our islands
They took advantage of the
Change of history
They have already conspired
To assassinate our music
With a concealed melody
To the people here
To the people out there

If the music is a sword
The culture of a people
Do not fuse the morna and the coladeira
Do not assassinate
The culture of the people
Do not upset
The spirits of Tavares and B.Léza

If morna were to die
That would be the end of our joy
The sound of the violin
Our moonlight, our serenades
Will be buried in the nights of history
If cretcheu were to die
Cabo Verde will die too

(Translated by the author of this paper)
AI.3 Lyrics of the MornaSodade’ performed by Cesaria Evora

Quem mostra’ bo
Ess caminho longe?
Ess caminho
Pa São Tomé
Sodade, sodade, sodade
Dess nha terra São Nicolau
Si bo ‘screve’ me
‘M ta ‘screve be
Si bo ‘squece me
‘M ta ‘squece be
Até dia
Qui bo voltà

Who showed you
The long path?
This path to
São Tomé
Sodade, sodade, sodade
Of the island of São Nicolau
If you write me
I will write you
If you forget me
I will forget you
Until the day
Of your return

(Translated by the author of this paper)

Appendix II
Excerpts of Fieldwork Interviews carried out in 2013 in the Cabo Verde Islands
(translated from CVC or Portuguese)

AII.1 Excerpt of Interview: Musician from São Vicente on Serenade

You go in front of the window of your girlfriend and play the serenade during the night for many times. This is what we have started to lose. […] Also here in São Vicente we are losing the tradition [of the form of serenade]. We have to know that before independence, we had different habits. We had a tradition of the serenade and then, after independence, the idea of the popular dances [music] became prominent. […] The serenade only begins at dawn. [Or] if somebody embarks or emigrates, we play the serenade of farewell. People do not knock on the door, they start to play the guitar and cavaquinho or even percussion in front of the window so that people could listen. The serenade could be sung or played [on instruments].

AII.2 Excerpt of Interview: Musician A on change in society and Morna

For a while now, society and the way people live has been changing somewhat. Because, I think that [compared to] the past at least, I can find a different form of morna to what people feel now. […] There were no modern appliances like computers or televisions, so people cultivated music during their free time. For instance, we used to have the serenade where people played the guitar and also sang. It is unthinkable now to have a group of people playing a serenade. Things have changed.

AII.3 Excerpt of Interview: Musician A on Fusion Music

Musician A): Here in Cabo Verde, we have always had outside influences, especially here in São Vicente which was the cultural centre thanks to the port. There were many boats in the port which gave us contact with foreigners. Eventually, we listened to quite a lot of foreign music like American music and Brazilian music. Moreover, Brazilian music is part of our culture. For example, we have a musical genre called coladeira-samba.

Author): How about morna-samba?

Musician A): As the morna-samba has enough of a slow rhythm of 4/4, it cannot be a kind of morna. However, the relationship can be seen between morna and choro. Because coladeira is morna with a quick tempo. Within coladeira there are some fusion patterns: a fusion of coladeira and samba, a fusion of coladeira and baião.

AII.4 Excerpt of Interview: Singer B on Fusion and Modern Morna

Singer B): You can play the classic music at the same time you play the morna. But simply, you can also play the morna by keeping the tonality and the staves, etc., everything with the form how the morna is played is authentic. This is no longer fusion [music]. Because, when it is a fusion [music], every musician plays in their own style. For example, I would sing morna and you would sing jazz. Then we put them [the different musical styles] together. But it is different if I give you the stave and you play it. [In that case] You will play what I want to sing. [So] You would play the morna, but with your instruments. You would follow the chords of morna on guitars or cavaquinhos.

Author): So, this is modern morna

Singer B): I think so. For me it is [modern morna]. […], For me, it is not possible to play too much modern morna or traditional morna. […] A fusion morna has to respect the gauge of morna to be created. […] It can be sung but without exaggeration [not in another style]. It has to be formulated [the balance] even though each performer is doing their own style. It is then that you will find the balance. It is the way of singing but also a form of how it is arranged by playing [the instruments].

[1] We should note that although the movements are divided into distinct periods for the purpose of analysis, the periods overlap each other with each movement leading into the next. Certainly the first two periods are closely connected as through the works of both Tavares and B. Léza, each in their own way allowed the morna as a musical genre to evolve.
[2] “The Creole Songs of Morna”. His Mornas Cantigas Crioulas, published posthumously, was written entirely in CVC (Tavares 1932).
[3] Coladeira is a musical genre which appeared in the 1950s as morna evolved. Coladeira has a rhythm that is more accelerated (musically, it is the rhythm of 2/2) than that of the morna.
[4] The satirical lyric is a characteristic of the coladeira. It is sung to criticize the social situation in Cabo Verde.
[5] The memory of famine: 1746; 1748 to 1750; 1773 to 1776; 1813 and 1814; 1825; 1831 to 1833; 1845; 1846; 1850; 1851; 1853 to 1860; 1864 to 1866; 1875; 1876; 1883 to 1886; 1889; 1890; 1896 to 1903; 1911; 1920; 1921; 1931; 1941; 1947; 1948 (Documentary film “Alma Ta Fica”, 1989).
[6] The fact of not being able to make a livelihood from performing, means it is not easy to determine who can be considered a musician; in fact the people themselves do not consider themselves musicians.
[7] In the audience, there are many tourists alongside the local people.
[8] “Eclipse” is a morna composed by B. Léza.
[9] The music festival, “Morna Jazz, World Music Festival” was held in September 2013 and 2014.
[10] Noting of course that although the movements are divided into distinct periods for the purpose of analysis the periods overlap each other with each movement leading into the next.


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Internet Sources

  • Map of the Cabo Verdean Islands <www.Cabo Verde-map.asp> [Accessed: 2015.6.18].
  • Oxford Dictionary (2015) <>.
  • Mindelo Infos <>.


  • Historical dictionary of the Republic of Cabo Verde, (2007). Lanham, Maryland; Toronto; Plymouth: Scarecrow Press.


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