Frederick Moehn, 28 February 2013

Title of the Talk: Popular music in post-civil war Angola: The kuduro electronic dance music phenomenon of Luanda

When? Thursday 28 February 2013 (17:00-18:30)

Where? 20 St Giles, St John’s College

Speaker: Dr Frederick Moehn (Lecturer in Music, King’s College London)

Abstract: The electronic music genre kuduro began to emerge in Luanda, the capital of Angola, when the country was still in the throes of the devastating civil war that followed decolonization in 1974. Since the end of the war in 2002, kuduro has become the dominant musical genre of Luanda, and it has gained new audiences around the world, particularly in Europe. DJs and mix engineers attuned to global trends have incorporated it into their repertoire of grooves. It has been compared to the funk carioca of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with both genres sometimes labeled as ‘global ghettotech’. To the outsider, the vocals in kuduro can sound like another local form of rap music. Some observers hold that for urban youths it has supplanted the older genre semba as the musical avenue for expressing angolanidade, that is, Angolan-ness. In this colloquium I examine the historical and cultural setting in which kuduro emerged, and I contrast the genre with selected earlier forms of Angolan popular music. I discuss how the music is produced in the local setting. I also consider its global reception, and briefly compare it with funk carioca, arguing that the genres are different in important ways. I present selections from the audiovisual materials I collected in my field research. Finally, I propose that the framework of national identity (angolanidade) is insufficient for understanding the place of kuduro in contemporary Luanda.

Speaker Biography: Frederick Moehn is Lecturer in Music at King’s College London in the UK. His most recent publication is the book Contemporary Carioca: Technologies of Mixing in a Brazilian Music Scene published by Duke University Press. He has also published in a variety of academic journals, such as, EthnomusicologyLatin American Music ReviewJournal of the American Musicological SocietyPopular Music, and Ethnomusicology Forum, and he contributed to the edited volumes Brazilian Popular Music and GlobalizationWired for Sound: Engineering and Technologies in Sonic Cultures, and Brazilian Popular Music and Citizenship. He also enjoys performing samba and bossa nova (voice and guitar). He can be contacted at

Convenor: Jason Stanyek (Associate Professor; Fellow and Tutor, St. John’s College)


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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