Sounds of the Portuguese soul

Samba is to Brazil as fado is to Portugal. This music genre is one of the great Portuguese ambassadors with fans all over the world.

Usually sung by one person (called fadista) and accompanied by classical guitar (known in the fado´s context as fado viola) and Portuguese guitar, fado is often related to themes of suffering – the longing for the past, a lost love – among other deep feelings of the “Portuguese soul”. By the way, the “Portuguese soul” is strongly connected to the sea – its presence, the lives of sailors and fishermen, the streets and alleys of Lisbon, the farewells, misfortunes and nostalgia – as well as fado itself.

The origins of fado are quite controversial. According to one of the many theories, it has an Arabic origin. Another theory points to Brazilian folk songs (modinhas) as the basis of fado. And finally a third version says that the first time fado was heard it came from the voice of a singing sailor on the bow of the boat. But there are still those who argue that fado came in the voice of the people on the streets of Lisbon, as a way of expressing their feelings. Despite these disagreements, onething is sure: Fado emerged in the nineteenth century and quickly became popular song in Lisbon, spreading later to the whole country.

The word fado comes from the Latin fatum (destiny, fate) and also helps explain its melancholy theme: it is related to the expression of feelings associated with the destiny´s inevitability and is marked by the phatos (commiseration: a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others) of the classical Greece´s tragedies.


You might also like: