5. Get emotional with Fado music, an authentic Portuguese expression
– Silêncio, que se vai cantar o Fado!
Even if this warning – ‘Silence, Fado is about to be sung!’ – is not actually spoken, it is implicit in this traditional local form of music. Fado requires an intimate atmosphere and a pact between singers, musicians and audience. That can be achieved in a concert hall, in a tavern or in a restaurant. The singer, usually accompanied by one or more guitarras (12-stringed Portuguese guitars) and a viola (Spanish guitar), closes his or her eyes and launches into a melody. Fado may also be sung a capella, in various styles.
Fado is a melancholic form of song that is rooted in the Portuguese soul and expresses that complex mixture of nostalgia and yearning that is known as saudade. It developed mainly in central and southern Portugal – in Coimbra and above all Lisboa. Fado is a song about fate (Fatum in Latin) that began to be sung in sailors bars and in less salubrious parts of town until it became what it is today – the most noteworthy expression of the Portuguese soul. Its origins are obscure, but cadences reminiscent of Arab chants, mixed with sounds from African and Brazil, point to probable influences. What matters is that this form of music is specific to Portugal, and cannot be confused with any other. In addition it has seen the emergence of dozens of new composers and performers in recent years, who have renewed it and struck out in new directions.
The guitarra used in Fado is also a very special instrument that is adapted from those used by 17th – century court musicians. A Fado performance can be an occasion for the listener to come into contact with his or her deepest feelings, and be moved by the art into a semi-hypnotised state.
It is an experience that is not to be missed!