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Fado - Folk Portuguese Music

Updated on September 24, 2014

Fado is a traditional Portuguese music genre. Fado was initially the poor people's music, a way to express their feelings. Fado represents best the soul of the Portuguese, evoking with dignity the sadness of life, and a noble resignation in the face of fate. Fado is a genre exceptionally melancholic, that will touch anyone.

Some of the most famous Portuguese fado singers are Amalia Rodrigues, Mariza, Dulce Pontes, Mafalda Arnauth, Carlos do Carmo, and Cristina Branco.

Photo Credit: Jos Goulo via Flickr

Fadistas a Los Jeronimos

Fadistas a Los Jeronimos
Fadistas a Los Jeronimos

Mariza - Fado Em Mim

Mariza - fado singer
Mariza - fado singer

History of Fado

Historians traced fado back in the 1820 in Portugal, originating in Lisbon. However, since Fado was only transmitted orally, it is difficult to make a precise historic localization in time. It is believed that this genre had appeared much earlier, in the sixteenth century, and in the 1830s was only popularized. Fado was initially associated with the poor, and the marginalized classes, so it is very likely that historians didn't write about something they either despised or simply ignored.

Despite its secular existence, it was only in the early 20th century that fado as a musical genre will get its well-deserved recognition, and it will slowly become a national symbol of the Portuguese. The most prominent figure of fado, Amalia Rodrigues, has popularized it outside Portugal's border, making this exceptional music genre known internationally.

More recently, artists like Msia, Cristina Branco, and Mariza are the most notable contemporary singers to introduce the international auditorium to the world of fado.

Photo Credit: Joo Pedro Gonalves

Story of Fado

Saudade at its best. A compilation that will walk you through the various historical stages of fado. Many fado purists will say that this is the real fado, and will deny any merit of the internationally known fado artists. I'll let you decide.

Story of Fado
Story of Fado

Here is the list of tracks:1. A Casa Da Mariquinhas - Alfredo Marceneiro2. Nao Venhas Tarde - Carlos Ramos3. Tia Macheta - Berta Cardosa4. A Tendinha - Hermina Silva5. A Rosinha Dos Limoes - Max6. Rosa Enjeitada - Maria Teresa De Noronha7. Partir E Morrer Um Pouco - Antonio Dos Santos8. Foi Na Travessa Da Palha - Lucilic Do Carmo9. Foi Deus - Amalia Rodrigues10. Lisboa A Noite - Tony De Matos11. Aquela Janela Virada Pro Mar - Tristao Da Silva12. Fado Das Caldas - Vicente Da Camara13. Belos Tempos - Fernando Farinha14. Colchetes De Oiro - Hermano Da Camara15. Fadista Louco - Antonio Mourao16. Saudade Vai-Te-Embora - Fernanda Maria17. Embucado - Joao Ferreira Rosa18. Amar - Teresa Silva Carvalho19. Saudade Mal Do Fado - Carlos Do Carmo20. Arraial - Joao Braga


What Is It Special about Fado?

Fado is a mix of musical and theatrical art, very subtly mixed to engage the audition and immerse it into a unique emotional experience. It is believed that a good listener is as much a fadista as the singer.

The fado band, is traditionally composed of two Portuguese guitars, two guitars, and a bass viola. The modern fado has changed however, incorporating other instruments as well, and even with changes to the genreā€™s musical structure.

The foundation of fado, the emotional element is the one that will never change. The collective emotion risen during the fadistas performance is the quintessence of this musical genre. The artists, the instrumentalists and the vocalist will disseminate a contagious melancholic sadness that will envelop the audience, making them active participants to the show.

Dulce Pontes "No desgraa ser pobre"

Listen to this fado gem on Youtube.

Saudade - The Soul of Fado

Fado's lyric themes are deeply sad, immersing both the fado singers and the audience into a melancholic nostalgia and longing, a unique sentiment beautifully described by the Portuguese word saudade. The word saudade has no translation equivalent in English, and many non-Portuguese will have a hard time to understand the heavy suffering of fado. The word fado itself means fate, and the origin of the word comes from the Latin fatum, (the same origin as the English word).

In an attempt to describe the music style we could say that saudade is the emotional ingredient that allows fado to express, and to be what it is. Many specialists place fado, as a musical style, in the blues genre, however, even if there are some similarities, we cannot call fado blues. What do we call it then? I would call it world music, but that would not be accurate either, because it is more than that, fado is a complex performance art that spans music and theatre into a single act.

Misia - Pasiones Diagonales

What do you think about Fado?

See results

Fado Music Poll

If you would like to comment, please do so. I invite you to state your, nationality, or ancestry roots, or anything that makes your vote more interesting.

For instance, I am not Portuguese, but I absolutely love fado. Although, I am an optimistic and a rational, there is something in fado that makes my soul click to it. I would love to hear your comments, after voting.

Fado Video with Mariza in Concert

Here you can watch Mariza in concert. She tries to introduce the audience to the spirit of fado.

Ana Moura - Leva-me aos fados

What Do You Think About Fado?

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    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 5 years ago

      I love it. Barco Negro (as performed by Mariza or Amalia Rodrigues) is one of my top ten favourite songs of all time.

    • kcsantos profile image

      kcsantos 5 years ago

      Hi! Thanks for introducing us to this kind of music. I'm a music lover and interested to learn about world music. This is a good start.

    • gregs411 profile image

      gregs411 5 years ago

      I like this type of music.

    • ChadWing profile image

      ChadWing 5 years ago