Portuguese sailors were at the vanguard of European overseas exploration, discovering and mapping the coasts of Africa, Asia and Brazil, in what became known as the Age of Discovery.
Vasco da Gama led the first fleet around Africa to India, arriving in Calicut and starting a maritime route from Portugal to India. Soon, after reaching Brazil, explorations proceed to southeast Asia, having reached Japan in 1542.
During the history of Portugal between 1415 and 1578, Portugal discovered an eastern route to India that rounded the Cape of Good Hope, established trading routes throughout most of southern Asia and sent the first direct European maritime trade and diplomatic missions to China and Japan.
The Portuguese language, was in 16th – 17th – 18th centuries the trade language of the Indian Ocean shores.Portuguese was used, not only in the eastern cities conquered by the Portuguese but also by many local rulers in their relations with the other European powers.
They trade sweet potatoes, maize, and peanuts, foods that could be cultivated in lands where traditional Chinese staple crops— wheat, millet, and rice—could not grow. They change sugar and spice too.
The Portuguese bought Chinese silk and sold it to the Japanese in return for Japanese-mined silver; since silver was highly valued in China, the Portuguese could then use Japanese silver to buy even larger stocks of Chinese silk.
The Portuguese being the pioneer European nation to make prolonged contact with the Orient, introduced new features, new musical instruments, new textures, new forms of vocal music and new genres of music.
New percussion instruments such as drums, cymbals; new string instruments such as the citterns, viola, violin and piano; new wind instruments such as the trumpet and organ were all introduced by the Portuguese to their Asian holdings.
The most important influence, however, stems from the introduction of harmony – the combination of simultaneous notes to form chords – a feature of Western music.