PDA

View Full Version : Does Braga, Portugal, deserve more credit in ukulele history??



sternship
07-28-2009, 04:34 AM
hi there - I am currently living in Vigo, Spain and it is about an hour away from Braga in Portugal.

I have been doing some reading on the topic of the history / origins of the ukulele and with the original names being 'braguinha' / 'machete braguinha' / 'cavaquinho minhoto', I can't help but think that Braga should be credited more in terms of ukulele history as it is the place that spawned one of the instruments (I am aware of the rajao) that inspired the modern day ukulele.

Most of the ukulele websites seem to give credit to the Portuguese island of Madeira (I believe that this is where the sailors who introduced the 'braguinha' to the Hawaiians hailed from). Either way, the very name 'braguinha' means that it is little and that it hails from Braga ('inha' is a dimunuitive form in Portuguese i.e. like Rondaldinho, the footballer, just means Little Ronaldo). Also, from cavaquinho minhoto - 'minhoto' means that it hails from the River Minho region (which is the river which makes the border between Spain & Portugal, hence meaning N. Portugal).

I suppose you could say that 'Yeh, it may well have come from Braga but it would have stayed there had it not been for the people from Madeira introducing it to the Hawaiians' - this is true but it is still the home of one of the instruments and I think it should be credited with that accordingly.

I'd like to hear what you guys know / think. I'm going to Braga the day after tomorrow and hope to speak to some of the local music shop owners to see what they say about it. I'll keep you all posted.

In the meantime, here are some links;

http://www.lanikaiukes.com/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavaquinho

A very informative site on ukulele history - http://www.coolhanduke.com/history.html
How to get to Braga from where I live;
http://maps.google.es/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Vigo,+Spain&daddr=Braga,+Portugal&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=41.57282,-8.42308&sspn=0.238351,0.617294&g=Braga,+Portugal&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=9

hoosierhiver
07-28-2009, 04:37 AM
I'm interested to know what you find out.

GreyPoupon
07-28-2009, 05:55 AM
This is actually quite interesting. But let me ask a simple question.

What's the difference between a 'braguinha' / 'machete braguinha' / 'cavaquinho minhoto' and a ukulele?

DaveVisi
07-28-2009, 06:03 AM
The coolhanduke page seems to describe the differences fairly well. For the most part, it's the tuning and purpose of the instrument that's different. The Braguinha is tuned DGBD and is used as a "lead" instrument and rarely played as a rhythm instrument.

Here's the best example I could find on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZhwWPudk6c

To tell you the truth, on first glance I can't tell much difference either.

ukulelearp
07-28-2009, 07:14 AM
Let us know what you figure out!

Ahnko Honu
07-28-2009, 08:47 AM
I still want to get a Lehua soprano because of this historical connection. :shaka: http://www.lehuaukulele.com/
http://www.lehuaukulele.com/images/gallery/pic6.1.jpg

pink flamingo
07-28-2009, 09:18 AM
I was visiting family in Portugal and wanted to buy some new strings, so I bravely went in too a music store only to be told that he didn't sell uke strings. When I pointed out he had ukes standing in his shop window my eyes were met with a cold stare and a 'that's not an ukulele'. Awkward.

Glad to finally find out what that cute instrument was then. It had been nagging me ever since.

ukulelearp
07-28-2009, 09:36 AM
I was visiting family in Portugal and wanted to buy some new strings, so I bravely went in too a music store only to be told that he didn't sell uke strings. When I pointed out he had ukes standing in his shop window my eyes were met with a cold stare and a 'that's not an ukulele'. Awkward.

Glad to finally find out what that cute instrument was then. It had been nagging me ever since.


Ouch! He should've at least been helpful enough to tell you what it was.

GreyPoupon
07-28-2009, 01:23 PM
I still want to get a Lehua soprano because of this historical connection. :shaka: http://www.lehuaukulele.com/
http://www.lehuaukulele.com/images/gallery/pic6.1.jpg

Thats handsome!

Anyone ever play one of these? It's priced right.

sternship
07-28-2009, 09:01 PM
I think my main point was really that Madeira gets mentioned a lot in uke history yet there is no mention of Braga (despite the glaringly obvious connection with its name!!!). I was speaking to a Portuguese guy last night (I still haven't been to Braga) and he told me that there are lots of minor differences and each region has its own 'guitar' with slight variations. Despite this, it's curious to see that the names of instruments are which are always given in uke history are almost exclusively related to Braga / the Minho region (except the 'rajao', which, if I'm not mistaken, has the same tuning as a ukulele hence the connection) . I'm going tomorrow so I will post more then!!!

sternship
07-31-2009, 05:17 AM
this is a selection of 'cavaquinhos minhotos' that they have in the music shop i went to - http://www.salaomozart.com/store/index.php?pag=produtos&cPath=306&anterior=233

I was speaking to the owner and he told me that the cavaquinho was still popular in the area but the 'braguinha' was a lot more popular in the Portuguese Atlantic Islands of Madeira & the Azores and despite originating from Braga, it hasn't been popular there for a long time. The cavaquinhos i tried were quite different - they had very fine steel strings and made quite a different sound (combined with the fact that they were tuned differently) - I would have bought one had it not been for the fact that the part on the bridge for the strings was so small that you couldn't change the strings to standard ukulele nylon / nylgut strings. The craftmanship was very nice however! I will put the photos up tomorrow when I get a chance!!!!

josefico
08-29-2009, 12:13 AM
The mother/father of all is the cavaquinho from Braga. Today it is mainly used for rhythm, and when it is used for playing solo, the bottom string is used to play the music solo, while at the same time you do the rhythm with all the other cords. It has 4 cords (but there is also a solo cavaquinho version with the bottom 2 cords doubled, so with 6 cords) and the common tuning is A-A-C#-E (up-down) or G-G-B-D (up-down). But, there are other tuning styles (like D-G-B-D), depending on the type of cords you use, or the sound you like. Nowadays, the cords are thin steel and all 4 equal.
The Machête (or Braguinha, or Braga, or Machete from Braga, or even Cavaquinho) used in Madeira Islands use one of this less used tuning for cavaquinho (D3, G3, B3, D4), but the harm is more wide and the cords are made of nylon (more similar to the Ukulele). Don’t know if the differences from the cavaquinho from Braga began in Madeira Island or if they came from Braga. The
Yet, in Madeira Island, there is another typical instrument, similar to a small guitar, that is called the Rajão. This is probably a local version of an old viola used in the 6th century in europe, called “viola requinta” (sorry but I do not know the English spoken terminology for that, probably a quinto guitar). This old viola requinta used 5 double strings with D3, G3, D3, E3, A3. The Rajão, use 5 single strings, with the same tuning. The difference from a common guitar is the fact that the lower pitch cord is not the 5th, but the 3rd. This is the only thing that is similar in the Ukulele, but it has only 4 strings, made of nylon.
So, for me, the ukulele has far more from the cavaquinho from braga and from Madeira’s machete.
You have also other similar instruments called cavaquinho in Brazil, Cape Verde and Mozambique. They have steel strings and are a little bigger than the original cavaquinho from braga. Like the ukulele, they were taken there by the Portuguese sailors and are now a mixture of the local culture and the Portuguese original Cavaquinho (from Braga).

Some useful links for mor info: http://www.attambur.com/Recolhas/Antologia_Madeira/antologia_da_musica_tradicional_da_madeira_cp2.htm

http://www.jose-lucio.com/Pagina3/SonsCordofones/OS%20SONS/Rajao.htm
(this link has sounds from some of these instruments)

Tip: These links are in Portuguese, so you can use this link ( http://babelfish.yahoo.com/ ) to navigate in translated pages.

I Ukulista
08-29-2009, 03:56 AM
Hi Sternship,
My understanding is that Minho province is where the settlers to Madeira originally came from. That part of Iberia still has a Celtic flavour about it.
Galicia (Gauls, Gaels) Portugal. Together with the obvious connection between the languages of Galicia and Portugal. Lots of people from that region were transported to the new world and the atlantic islands, probably because of poverty in the area which continued right up to 25 years ago. Naturally the cavaquinho (armpit) and the Braguinha went with the settlers. Portuguese ships from Oporto went to Cape Verde and then out across the world. Sorry I digress, I agree with you that Braga should get more credit for the origin of the Ukulele although I was there last September for the fourth time in a 25 year span. I am yet to see a Braguinha played in the town. I bought my two favourite Ukuleles from Carvalho the factory is just south of Braga. That whole area of Iberia is really beautiful is it not?

sternship
09-11-2009, 08:43 AM
hi!! josefico - muit obrigado por aquellos links - fallo espanol e eu acho que posso entender el portugues escrito!! Intento agora! Obrigado!:worship:

I Ukulista - yeh, I agree with you - the area is beautiful!!:) I loved Braga especially and the coast is fantastic - hoping to be able to get a place near there one day but that's more of a pipe dream than anything else at the moment!

I think it's very ironic that I started playing the ukulele in Galicia thinking it was a strictly hawaiian instrument when the home of it was just down the road! I'll have to buy a cavaquinho / braguinha when I go back.
:smileybounce:

So, when will we start to see Braga mentioned on the ukulele history websites I wonder....I think it's more than due the credit!! You can just see the lineage really - from Braga to Oporto, Oporto to Madeira, Madeira to Hawaii. What a journey for such a small instrument!

I Ukulista
09-13-2009, 09:54 AM
Hi
Yes I always tell people that the instrument traveled the world with Portuguese sailors in the same way English sailors took the squeeze box or Americans carried the harmonica. The APC instrument web site give their address as Cellios
which is just south of Braga. Have you attempted Fado on the ukulele? I also discovered that Cape Verde music 'morna' is Uke friendly. Boa sorte...

arlindocosta
09-27-2009, 01:53 AM
Hi all

Considering the ships of a century ago were small cramped places with little room to spare it is not surprising that the little cavaquinho/braguinha would have been a favorite of the Portuguese sailors.

For some history of the cavaquinho:
http://grupodecavaquinhosdoporto.pt/The%20Cavaquinho%20-%20Dr%20Veiga%20de%20Oliveira.pdf

sternship
09-29-2009, 04:17 PM
ok,, thanks again for some more interesting reading!!!!!!!! Maybe the big ukulele companies will start to include Northern Portugal in their ukulele histories if they start reading more stuff like this!

Is fado a stlye of music? (pardon my ignorance!) any sites to get 'fado' music from? Thanks!!

I Ukulista
10-01-2009, 11:06 PM
Hi
Fado is the soulful heart of the Portuguse. Plenty of Fado played late at night in clubs in Lisbon and Porto.There is a really good modern Fado singer Mariza. You will enjoy it. Morna is the music of the Cape verde islands check out Tito Paris and Cesaria Evora. Brilliant....
Best wishes from Cambria

I Ukulista
10-01-2009, 11:21 PM
Hi Arlindocosta,
Thanks for the link to the cavaquinho history.
Obrigada

UkéDan
10-02-2009, 03:27 PM
Hi
Fado is the soulful heart of the Portuguse. Plenty of Fado played late at night in clubs in Lisbon and Porto.There is a really good modern Fado singer Mariza. You will enjoy it. Morna is the music of the Cape verde islands check out Tito Paris and Cesaria Evora. Brilliant....
Best wishes from Cambria

Cesaria Evora... Ooooh wonderful :drool:

Y'know, at a show I played in late August at a festival in Quebec City (synonymous with Alaska, as far as ukes are concerned), I whipped out my Kumalae and celebrated the 130th anniversary of the Uke's appearance in Hawaii, via the Ravenscrag, playing a song by Espen Lind... History and the New World. I think there will always be a debate about the cavalquino and tha braga but whatever, in my world, the diminutive uke rules...

Remember what that American guy John A Dix wrote about the Machete de Braga in 1850: "It's not probable that the machete will ever emigrate from Madeira." Wow, that's what happened and that's what became the ukulele.....

Ukeval
10-02-2009, 05:36 PM
I think people interested in Ukulele history should go back a few century to look at the renaissance guitar. It is a small guitar with four courses (double strings) with the exact same tuning as the ukulele, and with or without high G. In fact the fourth course was tuned with two strings, a bass and the octave, and some put the bass on the thumb side, like a low G, some put the octave like an high G. The last and only remaining instrument is in London (Royal College of Music) and was made in Portugal by a maker named Belchior Diaz in 1581.
I have a copy of this instrument (see my early music channel) and I often play the renaissance guitar music directly on the ukulele and it works perfectly !

Val

Playlist with renaissance guitar
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F5649D58CCD0164A
On the Uke :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oQP0yGmnXI

Ahnko Honu
10-02-2009, 09:48 PM
I think "The Merry Monarch" King David Kalakaua should get credit for the 'ukulele existing in it's current form as well as it's popularity internationally. The guitar (via Mexican Vaqueros) had been in Hawaiian Paniolo (Cowboy) hands several decades before the Braguinha arrived at these shore, and even a endemic tuning and playing style developed known as Ki ho'alu. Still the Hawaiian guitar never got so popular as the 'ukulele because the 'ukulele was adopted and promoted by Hawai'i's international superstar The Merry Monarch King David Kalakaua not only locally but also during his world tour. A popular instrument of a popular king, the rest is history. ;)

UkuDude
10-02-2009, 10:39 PM
Thats handsome!

Anyone ever play one of these? It's priced right.
I have a Concert and it plays very well. Not too loud, but nice. Workmanship is not the best, but a very solid instrument.

Keith

ukuleG
10-03-2009, 06:52 AM
I think people interested in Ukulele history should go back a few century to look at the renaissance guitar. It is a small guitar with four courses (double strings) with the exact same tuning as the ukulele, and with or without high G. In fact the fourth course was tuned with two strings, a bass and the octave, and some put the bass on the thumb side, like a low G, some put the octave like an high G. The last and only remaining instrument is in London (Royal College of Music) and was made in Portugal by a maker named Belchior Diaz in 1581.
I have a copy of this instrument (see my early music channel) and I often play the renaissance guitar music directly on the ukulele and it works perfectly !

Val

Playlist with renaissance guitar
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F5649D58CCD0164A
On the Uke :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oQP0yGmnXI

gah now i want a renaissance guitar :(.

I Ukulista
10-04-2009, 09:02 AM
Beautiful and I believe you are playing a Antonio Carvalho instrument..

I Ukulista
10-04-2009, 11:17 AM
[QUOTE=UkéDan;220681]Cesaria Evora... Ooooh wonderful :drool

Check out MARIZA singing modern Fado on Youtube.:)http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif

Ukeval
10-04-2009, 02:11 PM
Beautiful and I believe you are playing a Antonio Carvalho instrument..
Yes ! (concert one, very nice instrument)
V.

I Ukulista
10-05-2009, 09:25 AM
Nice choice, I have a soprano with Worth tenor strings and a wound low G
I'm a big fan of APC instruments.

I Ukulista
10-11-2009, 09:43 AM
Is fado a stlye of music? (pardon my ignorance!) any sites to get 'fado' music from? Thanks!![/QUOTE]

Hi Sternship
Did you get up to speed on Fado and listen to Mariza.
:)

sternship
02-09-2011, 01:57 AM
I was in a portugal a while back and listened to the radio channels dedicated to Fado! Was loving it and yes, that Mariza fado song you sent me was great! What a wonderful style of music! I still haven't got back to Braga / the Minho area to investigate any more!

sternship
02-09-2011, 02:11 AM
Ps I Ukulista - could you suggest any good sites with some fairly easy fado tabs? :)
Thanks!

Jim T.
02-09-2011, 05:52 AM
hi there - I am currently living in Vigo, Spain and it is about an hour away from Braga in Portugal.

I have been doing some reading on the topic of the history / origins of the ukulele and with the original names being 'braguinha' / 'machete braguinha' / 'cavaquinho minhoto', I can't help but think that Braga should be credited more in terms of ukulele history as it is the place that spawned one of the instruments (I am aware of the rajao) that inspired the modern day ukulele.

Most of the ukulele websites seem to give credit to the Portuguese island of Madeira (I believe that this is where the sailors who introduced the 'braguinha' to the Hawaiians hailed from). Either way, the very name 'braguinha' means that it is little and that it hails from Braga ('inha' is a dimunuitive form in Portuguese i.e. like Rondaldinho, the footballer, just means Little Ronaldo). Also, from cavaquinho minhoto - 'minhoto' means that it hails from the River Minho region (which is the river which makes the border between Spain & Portugal, hence meaning N. Portugal).

I suppose you could say that 'Yeh, it may well have come from Braga but it would have stayed there had it not been for the people from Madeira introducing it to the Hawaiians' - this is true but it is still the home of one of the instruments and I think it should be credited with that accordingly.

I'd like to hear what you guys know / think. I'm going to Braga the day after tomorrow and hope to speak to some of the local music shop owners to see what they say about it. I'll keep you all posted.

In the meantime, here are some links;

http://www.lanikaiukes.com/history.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavaquinho

A very informative site on ukulele history - http://www.coolhanduke.com/history.html
How to get to Braga from where I live;
http://maps.google.es/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Vigo,+Spain&daddr=Braga,+Portugal&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=41.57282,-8.42308&sspn=0.238351,0.617294&g=Braga,+Portugal&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=9

You raise an excellent point: the challenge is the historical record doesn't make it easy to draw definitive conclusions. Braguinha, for example, is a 20th century term. In 19th century Madeira, a review of literature in both English and Portuguese shows that the little 4-stringed precursor to the 'ukulele was referred to as the machete. That was also the case in Hawai'i: the earliest advertisements placed by Manuel Nunes and Augusto Dias in "O Luso Hawaiano" in 1885 for their newly opened guitar shops in Honolulu refer to machetes. Some in 19th century Madeira claimed that the machete was a Madeiran invention, but this seems unlikely. Studies have shown that many of the early Madeiran settlers did come from the province of Minho and other parts of northern Portugal, but the lack of contemporary evidence makes it difficult to prove this was the original source, just as there doesn't seem to be any conclusive evidence as to the origin of the Portuguese immigrants who introduced what is known as the cavaquinho to Brazil. The earliest known Portuguese reference to the machete/cavaquinho, dated 1716, appears in Raphael Bluteau’s "Vocabulario Portuguez e Latino": “Machete. Viola pequeña” [Small guitar]. Bluteau notes that the alternate term machinho “tambem he viola pequeña” [is also a small guitar]. Four- and five-string machinhos were included in the 1719 "Regimento para o oficio de violeiros" [Regulations for the luthiers guild] from the city of Guimaraes in Minho. Suggestive, but not proof of anything.

I Ukulista
02-09-2011, 05:59 AM
Have you looked at Julio Pereira's interesting website?

Ukuleleblues
02-09-2011, 04:19 PM
I noticed that too. It just has to do with the story telling aspects. Too much detail, not enough detail, it's a fine line my friend. I enjoyed reading your post.

I Ukulista
02-09-2011, 11:14 PM
This has been a long running and informative thread.
I'll share a little story.
'I was working in an old folks in North Wales and took my ukulele to work. A lady saw it and exclaimed
"it's a Braguinha, we call it Machete on my island". The lady is from Funchal Madeira'.
Dear Isobel then went on a trip down memory lane.