The Viola Toeira is from the Beira coast, a region to the north of Estremadura, south of the Douro Coast, and west of both Beira Alta and Beira Baixa. It is common in Coimbra where for a long period it was the instrument favored by university students until the appearance of the Portuguese guitar in around 1850. Usually played, as with the cavaquinho, with the rasgueado technique that accompanies dancing and singing in the rural context of the Beira, it is found as much among the commoners as in the salons and theatres, although it is often associated with a salon repertoire of modinhas and minuetos. The Toeira is a small guitar with an oval soundhole, its fingerboard flush with the top. The bridge may feature a leaf motif glued to each side, with perhaps some inlay decoration beneath the bridge in the shape of a flower with leaves, but this is by no means standard. As with nearly all violas, the bridge is in two parts: the strings run first over a thin piece of wood which acts as a floating saddle sitting directly on the soundboard, then pass through holes in the glued-on bridge, and are finally turned back and looped around pins or screws on top of the bridge. Its 12 strings are distributed in 5 courses, the top three being double and the lower two triple. The tuning is similar to the baroque guitar and chitarra battente: A3A3A2 D4D4D3 G3 B3 E4, from low to high.
A Guitarra Portuguesa é um instrumento musical carregado de simbolismo e, mercê da sua longa aliança com o Fado, é conotada com o “modo de ser” português, onde destino e saudade são palavras que naturalmente se associam ao trinado. Tem um timbre de tal modo inconfundível que, onde quer que esteja, qualquer português a reconhece aos primeiros acordes.
Tendo como origem directa a Cítara europeia do Renascimento, a Guitarra Portuguesa, tal como a conhecemos hoje, sofreu importantes modificações técnicas no último século, tendo no entanto, conservado a afinação peculiar das cítaras e a técnica de dedilho própria deste género de instrumentos.
Existem três tipos de Guitarra Portuguesa: a de Lisboa, a de Coimbra e do Porto. A de Lisboa com caixa baixa arredondada e é a que possui o som mais “brilhante”. A de Coimbra é maior, com o corpo assumindo uma forma mais aguçada. A do Porto é a mais pequena. Uma das principais diferenças reside na cabeça da guitarra: a de Coimbra possui uma lágrima incrustada, enquanto que a de Lisboa apresenta um caracol. A do Porto goza de maior liberdade, podendo ter ora um dragão esculpido ora uma flor; os três estilos têm em comum as seis ordens duplas de cordas metálicas.
A guitarra portuguesa utilizada na produção fotográfica foi construída por Alfredo Teixeira, cujo modelo de fabrico é herdeiro do modelo de Joaquim Duarte, o “Genro do Melo” [Joaquim da Cunha Melo].
À Descoberta da Guitarra Portuguesa, Cabral, Pedro Caldeira,
Cavaquinho minhoto (Cavaquinho from Minho)
Found mostly in the Portuguese region of Minho, the Cavaquinho minhoto maintains strong links to the characteristic musical forms of its region. Structurally, the fingerboard is level with the soundboard, facilitating the practice of rasgueado (a kind of percussive strumming) typical of this music. It has twelve frets, with a soundhole usually shaped in a half circle topped by two teardrops, although some are round. The Cavaquinho uses a wide range of tunings that vary according to location, traditional forms, and even players. Four metal, or sometimes nylon (originally gut), strings are typically tuned D4 A4 B4 E4, from low to high, perhaps the most versatile tuning, while G3 G3 B4 D4 or A4 A4 C#4 E4 are the most commonly used among players from Braga for the practice of the varejamento do malhão (a kind of two-finger strumming), and the vira (a traditional dance) in the moda velha (old style).
The Braguinha or 19th-century Machetinho Madeirense (little machete from the island of Madeira) is a soprano-sized guitar belonging to the cavaquinho family. During the final quarter of the 19th century, the instrument was called the Machete de Braga on Madeira, and, from the end of that period onwards, simply the Braguinha. Played solo, either strummed or plucked, it is sprightly and graceful and was, in earlier times, greatly esteemed by high-society women of Madeira. As opposed to its relative, the Cavaquinho, the Braguinha has a raised (rather than flush) fingerboard, its four strings commonly tuned D3 G3 B4 D4, from low to high.
The Brazilian cavaquinho is slightly larger than the typical Portuguese model. Like cavaquinhos from Lisbon and Madeira, its fingerboard is raised above the level of the soundboard, and the soundhole is usually round. The smallest instrument in the cavaquinho family is the cavaco, an important rhythm instrument in choro and samba ensembles, played with a pick
The cavaquinho from Cape Verde is based on the Brasileiro, which arrived in the island republic in the 1930s. Like its Brazilian ancestor, it is mainly a rhythm instrument, but is also used for melodic playing.