Braguinha de Madeira

levadeiro/ February 16, 2011/ Madeira, Madeira Islands, Music, Traditions, Video

Machete (Braguinha) is characteristic instrument of Madeira Island. It is a small guitar with four gut strings that are tuned in thirds, with the exception of the two main strings, which have an interval of a fourth. This instrument is used by farmers at feasts and dance. The music is vulgar in a succession of simple chords, but in the hands of a gifted player, the machete is capable of much more pleasant harmonies, and strangers are sometimes pleasantly surprised to hear the music … in vogue played with considerable effect of an instrument that seems so insignificant. One or two farmers can often be seen on the field after a hard day of work … playing in their favorite instruments.

It can be said that the Braguinha is the father of the Ukulele. But it is also true the Rajão is the mother of the Ukulele. The Ukulele took the physical size from its father, but got its attitude, personality and tuning from the Rajão. The Braguinha has the same scale length as the original Ukulele but is tuned DGBD. In Madeiran folk music, the Braguinha provided the high, shrill isolated notes in an ensemble … much like the lead guitar in a two-guitar rock group today. In Madeira and on the Portuguese mainland there are virtuosos who play very fancy rhythms on the Braguinha rather than leads, but traditionally it was played single style (but often quickly) and rarely by itself.