The coladeira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kulɐˈdejɾɐ]; Cape Verdean Creole: koladera, [kolɐˈdeɾɐ]) is a music genre from Cape Verde.

As a music genre

As a music genre the coladeira is characterized by having a variable tempo, from allegro to andante, a 2-beat bar,[1] and in its most traditional form by having an harmonic structure based in a cycle of fifths, while the lyrics structure is organized in strophes that alternate with a refrain. The coladeira is almost always monotonic,[2] i.e. composed in just one tonality. Compositions that use more than a tonality are rare and generally they are cases of passing from a minor to major tonality or vice versa.

Harmonic structure

As it was said before, in its most traditional form the coladeira follows a cycle of fifths. This characteristic is a direct heritage from the morna (check main article — morna). Even so, many composers (especially more recent ones) do not always use this structure.

Melodic structure

Also in the melodic line one can find characteristics similar to the morna (check main article — morna), for example the alternation between the main strophes and the refrain, the sweeping melodic line, the syncopation, etc. has changed it a little.


Generally, the subjects that the coladeira talks about are satires, social criticism, jokes and playful and happy themes. According to C. Gonçalves,[3] the original themes of the Boa Vista morna were precisely these ones. But after the thematic change in the passage from the Boa Vista morna to the Brava morna, the emerging genre coladeira would have taken over the initial thematic of the Boa Vista morna. These themes remind the mediaeval escárnio e maldizer songs from Portugal.


The composition of a group for playing the coladeira is not rigid. A medium-sized band may include besides a guitar (popularly called “violão” in Cape Verde) a cavaquinho (that plays the chords rhythmically), a solo instrument besides the singer’s voice and some percussion. A bigger band may include another guitar, an acoustic bass guitar, more than one solo instrument (a violin — popularly called “rabeca” in Cape Verde —, a clarinet, a trumpet, etc.) and several percussion instruments (a shaker, a güiro, a cowbell, congas, etc.).

The specific way of strumming the strings in a guitar is popularly called “mãozada” in Cape Verde. The strumming of the coladeira articulates a bass (played with the thumb, marking the beats) with chords (played with the other fingers, rhythmically).

From the 1960s it starts to happen the electrification of the coladeira, in which the percussion instruments are replaced by a drum kit and the bass / accompaniment play performed in the guitar is replaced by a bass guitar and an electric guitar. From the 1980s there is a big scale usage of electronic instruments (synthesizers, drum machines), being that usage much appreciated by some and criticized by others. In the late 1990s there is a come back to the roots where unplugged (acoustic) performances are sought after again.

In its most traditional form, the song starts by an introduction played in the soloist instrument (having this intro generally the same melody as the refrain), and then the song develops in an alternation between the main strophes and the refrain. Approximately after the middle of the song, instead of the sung refrain, the soloist instrument performs an improvisation. Recent composers, however, do not always use this sequence.

As a dance

As a dance, the coladeira is a ballroom dance, danced in pairs. The performers dance with an arm embracing the partner, while with the other arm they hold hands. The dancing is made through two body swings and shoulder undulations to one side, marking the rhythm’s beats of the bar, while in the next bar the swinging is made to the other side.

The footwork is a basic side-tap, side-tap. For example, the left foot moves to the left with a weight-shift to the left foot. The right foot then 'taps' (touching the floor without weight-shift) next to the left foot. This is followed by the same movement to the other side: the right foot moves back to the right with a weigh-shift to the right foot, and the left foot comes back to tap beside the right.[4]


1st period

The word koladera initially referred to the act of going out and singing the colá. According to the oral tradition,[5] a new musical genre appeared in the 1930s when the composer Anton’ Tchitch’ intentionally speeded up the tempo of a morna. Someone in the crowd is said to have shouted “já Bocê v’rá-’l n’um coladêra” (you have transformed it in a coladeira), i.e., a morna performed with the tempo and liveliness of a koladera. Technically, the coladeira appeared as a division in half of the length of the notes of the morna, through the acceleration of the tempo.

Little by little, this new musical genre was consolidated, absorbing several musical influences, mostly from Brazilian music. From S. Vicente this musical genre passed to the other islands, leading to the emergence of two schools,[3] each one with its own style: one in Barlavento, centered in Mindelo, and another in Sotavento, centered in Praia.

2nd period

In the 1950s, some innovations started to appear in the coladeira, similar to the ones that appeared with the morna. It is in this period that electric instruments began to be used, and the coladeira began to receive international attention, either through performances abroad or by the distribution of coladeira records. The coladeira continued to integrate influences from abroad, from Brazilian music and also from Anglo-Saxon music. In the 1970s, with the appearance of movements against colonialism and relations with socialist countries, other influences came along, including Latin-American music (bolero, son cubano, salsa, cumbia) and African music (especially from Angola and Guinea-Bissau).

In terms of musical structure, the coladeira began to slowly lose the traits that used to identify it with the morna. It was in this period that the dichotomy morna \ coladeira was established.

3rd period

There is a strong compas influence in Cape Verdean music.[6] During the 60s-80s, Haitian artists and bands such as Claudette & Ti Pierre, Tabou Combo, and especially Gesner Henry alias Coupe Cloue, and the Dominican group Exile One, were very popular in Africa. Exile One was the first to export cadence or compas music to the Cape Verde islands. Cape Verdeans artists have been exposed to compas in the USA and France.[7] In addition, the French Antilles band Kassav' and other French Antillean musicians, whose main music is compass, toured the islands on various occasions. Today, the new generation of Cape Verdean artists features a light compas close to Haitian and French Antillean compas music. Tito Paris's "Dança mami Criola", from 1994, is a good example; this CD features music close to Haiti's Tabou Combo, Caribbean Sextet, Exile One, Tropicana and the French Antilles' Kassav'.

Variants of the coladeira

In spite of being a relatively recent musical genre, the coladeira has already some variants.

Rhythmic model of the coladeira, 106~120 bpm.

The proper coladeira

Being a derivative of the morna, it is natural that the coladeira shares some characteristics with the former, as the harmonic sequence, the verse structure and a varied and syncopated melodic line. According to J. Monteiro,[5] the true coladeira is the one that results from a morna. So, if the morna is normally played with a 60 bpm tempo, the coladeira should have a 120 bpm tempo. However, this is not always the case.

That is due to the presence of two opposite styles[3] in the '50s of this variant of the coladeira, that correspond to the preference of certain composers: the “Ti Goy style[3] has a slower tempo (moderato), a simpler melodic line, the traditional 3 chords series, the use of rhymes and a more sarcastic thematic; the “Tony Marques style[3] has a quicker tempo (allegro), a melody well adapted to the rhythmics, a richer chord progression with passing chords, and a more varied thematic.

Later, these two styles influenced each other, and the compositions from the '60s are a blend of the two preceding styles.

In this variant of the coladeira the bass line marks the beats of the bar.

Rhythmic model of the slow coladeira, ± 96 bpm.

The slow coladeira

The lundum is a musical genre that was once in vogue in Cape Verde. Nowadays this genre is not known anymore. In Boa Vista it subsists,[8] not as a musical genre but as a specific song played in weddings.

However, the lundum has not disappeared completely. Besides the transformation of the lundum to the morna (check the main article — morna), the lundum went on absorbing external elements, for instance, from the Brazilians bossa nova and samba-canção, and later from the emerging genre coladeira. Today, this variant is more known as slow coladeira, and it has also been known as toada or contratempo. Due to some analogies with the bossa nova it occasionally called cola-samba or “sambed” coladeira. It is a variant of the coladeira with a slower tempo (andante), simpler structure than the morna, the rhythmic accentuation of the melody is on the first beat and the last half-beat of the bar. Perhaps the most internationally known example of this variant of coladeira is the song “Sodade” performed by Cesária Évora.

In this variant of coladeira the bass line marks the first and the last quarter-beats of the bar.


Rhythmic model of the cola-zouk, 90~120 bpm.

In the 1980s, the cape verdean diaspora living in Europe and North America have influenced the traditional "coladeira" with Compas, promoted by French Antilleans as" zouk",[9] Later, the new generation who grew up in Cape Verde featured a slow mixed version of electric pop music with Cape Verdean music styles, a light compas called "cabo love" , "cabo zouk" or "kizomba".[10] This light compas has become popular in portugues speaking country's of Africa, Brazil and the rest of the world. Most of the songs are written in Portuguese/creole.[11]


The Cabo Verde Music Award for Best Coladeira was created in 2011, it awards a best song related to this genre each year.

Examples of coladeiras


  1. Brito, M., Breves Apontamentos sobre as Formas Musicais existentes em Cabo Verde — 1998
  2. Sousa, P.e J. M. de, Hora di Bai — Capeverdean American Federation, Boston, 1973
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Gonçalves, C. F., Kab Verd Band — 2006
  4. based on demonstration
  5. 1 2 Monteiro, J., Mornas e Contra-Tempos (Coladeiras de Cabo Verde) — Ed. do Autor, Mindelo, 1987
  6. "In the 1960s the coladera [sic] emerged as a more lively, upbeat counter-part to the morna The coladera is performed in fast duple meter, accompanying informal pop-style couple dancing. its primary influences appear to be an obscure folk processional music by the same name, Afro-American commercial music, the morna, and most important, modern French Caribbean pop...more often it is played by a modern dance band, that is, with drums, bass, electric guitars, and the like." Peter Manuel, Popular Musics of the Non-Western World, p95. Oxford University Press 1988
  7. ...Acculturation has been further promoted by the growth of overseas communities (especially in New England) whose population now exceeds that of Cape Verde itself (around 300,000). Peter Manuel, Popular Musics of the Non-Western World, p95. Oxford University Press 1988
  8. Lima, A. G., A dança do landu (Dos antigos reinos do Kongo e de Ngola à Boa Vista)
  9. 16. Jump up ^ Peter Manuel, Popular Musics of the Non-Western World, Oxford University Press 1988
  10. "zouk". Encyclopedia of Latin American Popular Music. Retrieved December 3, 2005.
  11. "Cabo zouk". Transnational Archipelago: Perspectives on Cape Verdean Migration and Diaspora. Retrieved December 3, 2005.

External links

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