The Growth of Portuguese Music

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Portugal has a rich musical culture, with roots that go back to Provencal troubadours, followed by ballads and the fado, and as of late, incorporating the rhythms of Portugal's former West African colonies. Each of these elements are stll alive in current Portuguese music like the French Provencal influence in the folk music played at festivals in the northern part of the country, as well as the rock and jazz most prevalent in the larger cities. An additional element is added by a wealth of singer-songwriters, most of whom spawned from the extremely political 'New Song' movement. This movement began rolling during the 1970's when the country threw off a thirty year dictatorship under Salazar, and was forced to withdraw from its colonies. In Portuguese folk music, there are a wide variety of instruments. Some of the most common include bagpipes, harmonicas, accordions, flutes, drums (adufes, bombos, caixas, pandeiros, sarroncas), and numerous percussion instruments (ferrinhos, genebres, reco-reco, trancanholas). However, Portugal is most well-known for its string instruments: violins, twelve-stringed "Portuguese guitar", and six variations of "viola-guitars" unknown to other European countries. Design, character, and tuning are unique to each one of the viola-guitars. The most well known is the small, four-stringed cavaquinho. The others have elaborate combinations of single, double, and even triple strings. One of the common combinations of instruments is the zes-pereira. Comprised of a large bombo, a caixa, and a bagpipe or fife, these are often used to announce special occasions. Another tradition combination popular throughout the country is the rancho, made up of violins, guitars, clarinets, harmonicas and ferrinhos, later joined by the accodion. The singers of Porgtugal are excellent. In every town there is an amateur choir. It is customary for someone to begin an acappella following a good meal, and others at the the table will join in.

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