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Cape Verde Musicians Draw Inspiration from Brazil During Carnival Season


Carnival season is a time for music and revelry, and not just in Brazil. In Cape Verde, some musicians want to show that Brazil's famous carnival rhythms also have roots in Africa's musical history. Phuong Tran attended a rehearsal with musicians in Praia, Cape Verde, and files this VOA report.

This Brazilian singer, Paola, and a group of Cape Verdean musicians headed by Pericles Barros, have been rehearsing every night for the past week.

Barros says his band, Prasamba -- a mix of the name of the capital, Praia, and the Brazilian rhythm, samba -- is the first in the country to blend Cape Verdean instruments with Brazilian rhythms.

"It is new among us in Praia. We play Cape Verdean music with the Brazilian beats," he said. "I don't know, which came first. Our rhythm, or the samba rhythm. Samba came from African rhythms."

Cape Verdean music often has instruments such as the cimboa, a stringed instrument played with a bow and the cavaquinho, a small guitar. Both are also used in Brazilian music.

Barros dismisses critics of his band's style.

"Some people think it is not very nice to adulterate Cape Verdean music with Brazilian music, but we do not have any barriers in our musical expression," he said.

"We emphasize our roots, but we acquire and we adopt other musical languages that [have] been developed, mainly in Brazil. We think it is part of us out there, so we [bring] it all together and we play pagode," he continued.

Pagode is a Brazilian style of music that comes from Brazilian samba and blends African rhythms. Popular in Brazil as party music, Barros wants to see it spread in Cape Verde.

"Lots of percussion, lots of tambores, lots of instruments like this. It comes from Brazil, but we have pagode in Cape Verde. It is the same thing," explained Barros.

Prasamba starts performing Saturday, and will continue through the two weeks of carnival celebrations that take place mostly on Mindelo and Sao Vicente, two of Cape Verde's islands.