Viola da Terra 

Viola da TerraIt is believed that the Viola da Terra (or Guitar of the Land) emerged in the Azores in the second half of the fifteenth century, brought by the first settlers in their luggage. At that time the Viola would have been different from the current model, which was honed by the imagination of generations of builders.

The Wire Viola, or Viola of Two Hearts, names by which it is also known, was the natural companion of all festive songs, folk dances, love songs and other emotional, lyrical and amorous reveries. It was also used in the so-called “derriços” (“desgarradas”, “desafios” ,“despiques”) typical Azorean singing battles (not unlike modern rap battles) in which two singers fight for the favor of the audience with lyrics that improvised on the spot. 

The Viola da Terra was part of the dowry of the groom. During the day it was always placed on top of a checkered quilt as adornment of the bedroom. This union, in which the Viola was placed with the strings facing down, in contact with the fabric of the quilt, prevented, according to old stories, the Viola da Terra to suffer from the humidity, since this instrument is extremely sensitive to climatic variations.


In he past years there has been a revival of the Viola da Terra. Young players like Rafael Carvalho research the old traditional music and create new repertoire. Builders like Raimundo Leonardes and José Serpa creae a new generation of instruments of high quality often with unusual designs. Here is a fragment of Renato Bettencourt playing solo on modern composition "Samba do Porto".

Nossa Senhora do Mar