Braguinha de Madeira

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.

3 Replies to “Braguinha de Madeira”

  1. Hi Don, if you remember, I came to Madeira in 2009, before the terrible floods. I did a blog of the pictures ( http://peakwalks.blogspot.com/2009/03/madeira-day-one.html ) and you left a comment. I said we’d be back, and we ARE coming back on March 7th for another week. We’re hoping for better weather this time, so we can do some high levada walking. We also want to walk the three highest peaks. We’re staying at the same hotel, Pestana Miramar. I’m also hoping to get more great pictures. Les

  2. Hi Don. We have not met, but next time I visit Madeira I will make a point of it. I was in Madeira in June and left in July 2011. I was surprised at the speedy recovery after the floods in 2010. I am from Madeira and visit about every 3 years. I am hoping to be back in 2012. I would like to find out more about the Braguinha and courses available. Can you help?
    Regards
    Ivbo

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