The music of Cape Verde

Just 500 kilometres off the coast of Senegal is Cape Verde, a cluster of 10 islands that are quickly making a name for themselves on the travel circuit and have an interesting blend of musical traditions.

Whichever island you choose to visit in Cape Verde, one thing is true of all of them – they are blessed with a distinct mix of cultures. This means that everything about the place is a mishmash of African, Portuguese and Brazilian influences, especially the music.

Cultural tones

This beautiful location is fast becoming known in neighbouring countries for its traditional genres, and it is true that music in Cape Verde is certainly unique.

As a cultural melting pot, Cape Verde offers an original combination of clarinet and violin music on one hand, with the twang of a small Portuguese guitar known as a cavaquinho on the other. So before you head out there, here’s a rundown of some of the most famous musical genres found in Cape Verde.


Without a doubt the most popular type of music in Cape Verde, Morna is considered the national music of the islands.

Associated with international superstar Cesaria Evora, Morna has been compared to the Argentinian Tango for its passion, and its lyrics deal with love, patriotism and loss.

Morna is especially popular in Boa Vista, where it’s thought to have originated. Stars like Evora, as well as composers Manuel de Novas and B Leza, still have their work covered today, performed at festivals and gigs all over Cape Verde.

You’ll see Morna generally performed by a solo musician, or possibly in a duet, with an instrumental accompaniment. Among the instruments used in this music are guitar, bass, violin and piano, as these are the most expressive instruments, able to communicate a huge range of emotions.


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