1st Edition

Fiddles in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Cultures Transatlantic Aesthetics

By Luiz Moretto Copyright 2025
    288 Pages 85 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Fiddles in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Cultures presents fresh data and debates drawn from extensive research to broaden the study of African music by focusing on fiddle playing, exploring rhythm aesthetics and tonal systems within cultural contexts.. Focused on Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Brazil, the research maps cultural affiliations, addressing cultural displacement and historical ties. It engages with postcolonial power dynamics, highlighting fiddle playing as a form of resistance and revival.

    Primarily aimed at academic researchers in ethnomusicology and related fields, the book provides detailed analytical descriptions and narratives of artists, instruments, and playing styles. It contributes to discussions on music, decolonization, and diasporic communities' demands for authenticity and recognition.. By revealing lesser-known fiddle traditions, it enriches the world music genre, attracting both academic and general readers interested in transcultural music studies.

    Table of Contents      

    List of Maps                                                                                                                      

    List of Illustrations                                                                                                           

    List of Music Examples



    Chapter 1.  Introduction: Mapping Afro-Fiddle Playing in Three Different Contexts

    Busking in Lisbon                                                                                               

    First beats                                                                                                           

    Up-beat down-bow: musical identities                                                                           

    African musical aesthetics? Perception, the ‘sensuous’ and improvisation      

    Rhythm as a diasporic reinvention                                                                     

    Approaching the fieldwork                                                                                 

    Fiddles in transit

    Chapter 2.  The Kriolu Violin of Cape Verde                                                                                 

    The archipelago at the Atlantic crossroads                                                         

    Transnational cultures                                                                            

    The violin in Cape Verde                                                                                   

    Antoninho Travadinha (the improviser)                                            

    Research in the Ilhas do Sotavento (Santiago)                                                   

    Kim Alves

    Nhô Djonzinho Alves

    Nhó Nani

    Research in the Ilhas do Barlavento                                                                   

    Francisco Sequeira (archivist) and Malaquias Costa (violinist)

    César Costa

    Nhô Kzik

    Breka (‘The Tall Man’)

    Kriolu violin playing: a dynamic tradition    

    Chapter 3. The Cimboa in Cape Verde                                                          

    Rumours of extinction                                                                                                    

    A Fulbe heritage?                                                                                             

    The cimboa in batuku                                                                                       

    The rhythm of cimboa music                                                                           

    Mano Mendi and Pascoal Fernandes

    Ntóni Denti d’Oro

    Transcultural revivals

    Chapter 4.  The Cimboa Becomes the Orocongo                                  

    The transformation of the cimboa in Brazil  

    Gentil do Orocongo   

    The orocongo, the rhizome and ‘creative creolisation’                                    

    Chapter 5.  Vanished Fiddles: Vestiges of Mozambique in Brazil

    Investigating historical traces                                                                           

    Fiddle paintings                                                                                               

    Across the ‘emaka’ (ocean): the journey from east to west

    The disappearance of the one-stringed fiddle              

    Chapter 6. The Tchakare in Mozambique                                                            

    The Makua peoples                                                                                           

    On the way to Niassa                                                                                      

    The Makua tchakare and tchkwèsa                                                                  

    Between Mandimba and Mitande                                                                   

    Nfani Wathunia

    A traditional Makua village                                                                              

    Almirante Bilale

    The Makua tchakare and Mozambique’s nationalist agenda                           

    Chapter 7.  The Rabeca in a Brazilian Quilombo                                    

    Quilombola culture: resistance, identity and ethnic reassertion                       

    Vale do Ribeira                                                                                                 

    Quilombos: cultural heritage and the struggle for recognition                        

    Caiçaras, quilombos and music                                                                        

    Rabeca players in Quilombo do Moro Seco                             

    Bonifácio Modesto Pereira

    The fandango-rufado                                                                                     

    The role of the rabeca                                                                          

    Hermes Modesto Pereira

    Music and religion                                                                                            

    Musical and social change                                                                                

    Chapter 8.  Conclusion: Creolisation and the Revival of FiddleTraditions                     

    The fiddle and the African diaspora

    The Kriolu violin: local and overseas circuits, transnational identities              

    One-stringed fiddle connections                                                                       

    Fiddling in a quilombo: land, memory and identity     

    Unperceived aesthetics and disappearing traditions                                        

    Glossary of Terms     



    Dr Luiz Moretto holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology from King’s College London. He is a professional fiddle player and composer, performing and recording in many different styles of African and Brazilian music. This has also been the focus of his research over the course of many years.

    "This is a solid and complex piece of multi-sited research that, in lucid prose, tackles a novel topic – bowed chordophones across the Afro-Lusophone world, encompassing Portugal, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Brazil. Challenging a range of preconceived ideas about African musical principles, Luiz Moretto shows how bowed chordophones of various types mediated encounters in different settings, each presenting very distinct and context-specific responses, from cultural dissemination, independent invention, hybridizations, resistance and revivals."
    Suzel Reily, Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Universiade Estadual de Campinas

    "This is an extremely rich account of one could call "the black fiddle", immersing readers in a meticulously researched journey through the rich tapestry of African and Afro-diasporic music cultures. Readers will find detailed analyses of how the European instrument was incorporated and re-signified in countries deeply marked by the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade, such as Brazil, Mozambique and Cape Verde. Through vivid ethnographic accounts and previously unpublished materials, this groundbreaking work sheds light on the transcultural dynamics of fiddle traditions, challenging notions of authenticity and decolonization. It not only fills a void in music literature but also captivates a broader audience with its exploration of untold narratives and rhythmic aesthetics, resonating across continents and cultures."
    Felipe Correa, Reader in Cultural Studies, King’s College London

    "This compelling work challenges entrenched stereotypes and narratives rooted in colonial history, offering fresh perspectives on African traditional instruments and their rich cultural contexts. Moving beyond the confines of authenticity politics and power dynamics, it presents a nuanced and contemporary discourse. Written by a seasoned musician deeply immersed in the world of African music and its diasporic encounters, this book is a must-read."
    Genitho Santana, Anthropology Teacher at School of Art and Communication, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane