Portuguese musical traditions
Fado has moments of deep melancholia, in which the feelings are expressed in the voice, and one easily falls into sadness. But it also has great moments of joy, mainly in songs that praise the city of Lisbon, or its neighborhoods, or happy love affairs. Fado is like life, it swings back and forth from joy to sorrow. Maybe its origin may explain the sadness: some authors say that it came about with the discovery of distant lands, when sailors sang paced by the swinging and cadenced rhythm of the waves, the bitterness of the absence of family and homeland, other authors say its origin is prior the epic discoveries, going back to the singing of captive Moors during the Christian recovery of territory, and yet others say its origin can be rooted in the slaves songs, shipped to Brasil in the 16th and 17th centuries, and brought back to Portugal by the Portuguese Royalty, upon their return when the Napoleonic invasions were over. Whatever the origin, one would sing fado (word comes from the Latin Fatum – fate), the sorrowv of life itself.
In a city where neighbourhoods were true communities, as if Lisbon were a cluster of several villages, fado that praised these neighbourhoods emerged. These traditional folk songs are cheerful, and show the love each inhabitant has for its neighbourhoods. In the first half of the 20th century, the competition between the typical neighbourhoods is settled, by organizing folk parades, with each neighbourhood presenting a new fado dedicated to that neighbourhood, whilst parading in the streets of the Town Centre. These festivals are still done to this day, being its highlight the Santo António celebrations, a Lisbon saint, born in Alfama, and venerated enthusiastically by the people..
At the start of
the 20th century, possibly before, people began to enjoy Sunday leisure gatherings, strolls and outdoor meals, where fado was sung. From these early days from the pubs, where people used to sing, to restaurants presenting fado in a rather unprofessional way, to the fado houses, places where guests mingled with acknowledged fado singers during meals, things naturally evolved. Fado also crossed Lisbon borders, expanding and becoming popular in other regions throughout the country, mainly in Porto, Ribatejo and Alentejo. As a song connected to the day-by-day life of the performer, fado acquires special features in Ribatejo, with lyrics very much linked with the life and culture of the region, like the bond between man and horse, his true ally in the toil of large herds of wild bulls, or in confrontation between man with the wild beast.
But fado is not the only form of expressing folk music: the Portuguese people, under the influence of several ethnic groups that lived in the Iberia Peninsula, or of trends that passed on from the Royalty Corte to the people, developed a very rich folk culture, both in songs and in dancing. It is this whole set of traditions that define us, and that we will endeavor to present you with.
Structure of the show
FADO ACCOMPANIED BY CLASSICAL GUITAR AND THE PORTUGUESE GUITAR
We begin the evening with fado songs, as it is commonly done in fado houses since the 50s. The performer sings various fado songs, accompanied by musical instruments that, throughout times, became the true companions of whoever sings fado: the Portuguese Guitar, a traditional string instrument, in which 6 pairs of strings, that make a unique sound, have the ability to accompany and defy the voice.
PICTURE WITH FADO IN A 19TH CENTURY TAVERN
In this presentation we show a fado recreating in its own environment: in a tavern the innkeepers wife rebels against her man, because he’s paying too much attention to another woman, by singing a fado that alludes to a similar situation, in which she takes the upper hand. The Innkeeper replies with Marialva fado, whose lyrics bring up the men’s values over womens that should remain in a subordinate rank to men. Follows a fado desgarrada, a form of dispute, were two people sing at the same time, and show which has the best abilities to subjugate its opponent. In the end of the moment, in harmony, they will sing a fado that depicts the fado essence.