Musical Instruments

The festive identity and stories of this Atlantic archipelago are reflected in its traditional songbook. The sounds of folklore have been part of everyday life on these islands for a long time. As such, the typical Madeira musical instruments are extremely important elements in the history and culture of the region.
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The history of Madeira musical instruments takes us back to the beginning of the colonisation process of this island territory. It is estimated that the 'braguinha', for example, was introduced in the region by the first Portuguese settlers. It is a small four-stringed guitar, similar to the 'cavaquinho' (ukelele), with a sound that stands out for its joyfulness and gracefulness.

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Later, in the 19th century, this instrument was taken by a Madeiran emigrant from Madeira to Hawaii, where he founded a music shop and later renamed it 'ukulele' (which means 'jumping flea'), becoming one of Hawaii's icons and one of the world's best-known musical instruments.
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Although this is one of the most popular musical instruments in Madeira, there are others extremely significant ones. The 'rajão', for example, belongs to the class of string instruments and has five strings. It is the oldest to be used in Madeira's musical practices. In turn, the 'viola de arame', which originated the Brazilian viola, is also one of the archipelago's traditional instruments.

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We should note that the three musical instruments mentioned above are used to accompany the typical regional folk dances, but there is another instrument that must always take part in festive moments: the famous 'brinquinho', used to mark the pace of folk songs, which due to its peculiarity and appearance became an undisputed icon of the archipelago.
This percussion instrument is very well known in the Region, and became one of the most popular also among tourists. It is made of a rattle cane, about 70 cm long, with a wooden dummy at the upper end and, generally, two dummy wheels below. These dummies, dressed in typical Madeiran costumes, have a pair of flattened tin caps on their feet and castanets on their backs. Thus, sound is produced when the cane is moved vertically.
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Using mainly the typical Madeira musical instruments, there are various traditional musical genres that are an essential part of the cultural expression of this region. Besides the most famous one, the energetic 'Bailinho da Madeira', it is important to highlight the 'charamba', the 'chamarrita', the 'mouriscas' or the unusual 'despiques'.
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