Nuno Cristo

musician, composer, instrument maker

I’ve spent most of my life learning about musical instruments, how they’re built and how they can be played. As an instrument-maker, I can get inside an instrument to understand its every nuance and discover new ways to produce sound. This is the foundation of my work as a composer and musician. I add another dimension by creating an acoustic ambience for my songs, composing soundscapes as I’ve done extensively for live theatre. My music rests on these bedrocks of sound, built from non-musical sources like the curling surf or complacent sheep. I also enjoy combining sounds from various cultures to explore the historical interchanges and cross-cultural influences of different peoples. Because of my Portuguese background, I tend to play instruments from the Lusofonia, the Portuguese-speaking cultures of the world. These include the rich and exciting heritage of African, Afro-American, East-Indian and West-European musical art. As far as being influenced by specific artists and movements, I celebrate the innovative style of the late Portuguese singer-songwriter José Afonso and the revival of traditional Portuguese music that followed the 1974 Revolution of the Carnations.
As an instrument maker, I was always fascinated by African lamellophones. I started playing
mbira dza vadzimu about 7 years ago with the help of local players, books and recordings. I purchased instruments from visiting bands, like Thomas Mapfumo’s Blacks Unlimited, and gathered enough material to organize a group of local mbira players.
There’re many connections between mbira and my Portuguese origins, especially because I lived in Mozambique as a child. The first European record of this type of instrument was written by a Portuguese missionary in the 16th century in Manica, Mozambique. Playing mbira is great fun, and a way of collaborating with local Zimbabwean musicians and promoting this great African instrument. I have recorded many original compositions for mbira and versions of traditional Portuguese tunes also using the instrument and I’m very interested in the similar aspects between mbira music and
fado.
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