Cape Verdeans in the Atlantic: the formation of Kriolu music and dance styles on ship and in port

  • Susan Hurley-Glowa University of Texas Rio Grande Valley


Working from the premise that Cape Verde is a member of the Black Atlantic musical family whose styles flowed freely from port to port, this study has delved deeper into the styles and time frames that figured into the mix, verifying that periods of intense transatlantic port activity correspond to the emergence of new genres. Cape Verde’s musical history might be viewed as a sandbar on the beach that is continually reshaped and born a new by waves of musical influences circling between the continents. The ideas of individual Cape Verdeans ultimately created the music, of course, and a comparative approach is not meant to lessen those musicians’ importance, or detract from the beauty and perfection of Cape Verde’s greatest treasure. The footprints of transatlantic connections in Cape Verdean musical styles can be found in its rhythms, instruments, vocabularies, scores, and ship route patterns. People create styles, and musical communication happens on the personal level - through sailors sharing a tune at sea, through encounters in harbor dancehalls, and through ideas brought back home. Generations of seafarers found safe harbor in Cape Verde, carrying music round and round the Atlantic, and this process is still shaping the local forms, although the travel is now by jet, and the exchanges are often over the worldwide web. While some details about musical communities on the high seas may be lost to us, there is still information to be gained about Cape Verdean musical forms through a study of the multi-directional movements of musicians, artifacts, repertoires, and ideas around the Atlantic rim.


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How to Cite
Hurley-Glowa, S. “Cape Verdeans in the Atlantic: The Formation of Kriolu Music and Dance Styles on Ship and in Port”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 10, no. 1, Nov. 2015, pp. 7-30, doi: