About Fado

Fado, the song…

If I try to translate fado the dictionary tells me:

fate, destiny, lot, doom, fatality, popular Portuguese song

I will be damned… Such an accurate definition of a Nation it’s hard to find! Yes, that is us, ourselves… Precisely, concisely! Nevertheless, I refuse to take fado as a national song because I hate to think about fate (there is more interesting things to do). I refuse to take fado as a national song because I am still living the utopia of being the owner and the controller of my destiny and the part of it I would not be able to control I would really would not care about. I refuse to take fado as a national song because I do not even take seriously the statements of those doomeeneekers proclaiming The Doomsday. I refuse to take fado as a national song because I do not like those boundaries of fatality, I do not feel comfortable talking fatality. Much less singing it…

But, frustration of frustrations, the thing is everywhere, the thing procreates itself, the thing passes from generation to generation, therefore fado is really the popular Portuguese song… Unbelievable! You know what? Our destiny it is so much fado dependent that even our babies do not cry right after delivery… They sing fado to initiate their normal breathing function for the first time in their life.

There are contests for fado, there are awards for fado, there are restaurants for fado,
there are TV shows for fado and there even is a Portuguese acoustic guitar which is exclusively used for fado. We are condemned, we are doomed… It’s our hard hit destiny!

There are two kinds of fado in Portugal: the one from Lisboa and the one from Coimbra. While the latter has had its origins among the students living in that town[1], the former has had its origins in a typical environment of the country’s capital where night life was intensive and quite often dominated by playboys and playgirls or, else, where poverty could give place to a certain way of life dominated by “improviso” and “desenrascanço”, no matter if we are talking about love and sex or the normal needs of the Portuguese men and women living by then…

Portugal is fadoFado is Portugal!

Post Scriptum: Not being a typical fado singer [2]and not really internationally known as Amália Rodrigues was, Zeca Afonso is however the man who deserves my respect within the Portuguese song panorama. Creator of fabulous lyrics and excellent performer, as well, of his own songs, Zeca deserves to be reminded forever. I am leaving here a performance of him in 1983 during a concert given in the show house Coliseu, Lisbon (Portugal).

em Português

Dorme meu menino a estrela d’alva
Já a procurei e não a vi
Se ela não vier de madrugada
Outra que eu souber será pra ti

Outra que eu souber na noite escura
Sobre o teu sorriso de encantar
Ouvirás cantando nas alturas
Trovas e cantigas de embalar

Trovas e cantigas muito belas
Afina a garganta meu cantor
Quando a luz se apaga nas janelas
Perde a estrela d’alva o seu fulgor

Perde a estrela d’alva pequenina
Se outra não vier para a render
Dorme qu’inda a noite é uma menina
Deixa-a vir também adormecer

in English

Sleep my baby, the morning star
has been searched, yet haven’t seen it.
If it won’t come at dawn
Another that I know will be for you.

Another that I will know at dark night.
Over your smile of delight,
You’ll hear singing in the heights
Sweet lullaby ballads and songs.

Very beautiful ballads and songs.
Sharpen your throat my singer.
When the light goes out the windows,
The morning star loses its glow.

Lose the little morning star.
If other won’t come to change it.
Sleep, because night is still a child.
Let it also come to fall asleep.

by Zeca Afonso
Canção de Embalar (Lullaby Song) in Cantares do Andarilho, © 1968
Free translation to English by Zé Barbosa
[jwplayer config=”v-single” file=”/wp-content/uploads/flv/Zeca Afonso _ Cancao De Embalar.flv”]

UNESCO’s World Heritage

Bali (Indonesia), Nov 27th, 2011
  • FADO: World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage – UNESCO[3]

    Fado, Lisbon’s mournful song of loss and the Portuguese most traditional music genre, was added Sunday to UNESCO’s list of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. According to UNESCO, intangible heritage includes traditions and skills passed o m within cultures.

    The UNESCO’s committee of experts, meeting on Bali paradise island, in Indonesia, praised Fado as an “example of good practices” that should be followed by other countries.

    More than 80 nominations were considered for inclusion of UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the 6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

    Recently, Portuguese Parliament had endorsed the initiative in Portugal to promote Fado as UNESCO’s World Heritage Cultural Patrimony. The city of Lisbon had submitted its request to UNESCO on July 2010.

    The deciding committee, chaired by the Ambassador of Indonesia to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientificand Cultural Organization), Aman Wirakartakusumah, consisted of 24 countries, included Spain, Kenya, Japan and Venezuela.

    Mariza, a leading contemporary performer, multiple award winnerand the ambassador of Fado’s UNESCO candidacy said that should Fado be honored “perhaps we Portuguese may take greater pride in who we are, especially in the so very grey times we currently live in.”

    “People shall have a far greater desire to care for, understand and nourish (Fado) as they begin to understand that this is not some lesser culture, but rich and deep and able to be performed any where in the world”, the singer explained.

    Fado was one of the candidates to get officia lbacking alongside the knowledge about jaguars held by the indigenous Yurupari
    people (Colombia), the Mariachi musical style (Mexico), the Nijemo Kolo dances of Dalmatia (Croatia), Tsiattista music and dance (Cyprus) and the royal mounted horse parade of Moravia (Czech Republic).

    At the previous legislature, the Portuguese Parliament had unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the initiative which goal is to preserve Fado’s cultural legacy.

    While its origin is unknown, historians believe Fado is a multicultural blending of songs by Portuguese homesick sailors, African slave songs from Brazil and ancient Moorish ballads.

    Recently, the Fado Museum was created in Lisbon to preserve Fado’s heritage.

  • Portal Do Fado
  • UNESCO's World Heritage
  • Some videos
  1. Who very often were away from their homes and loved ones and because of that Coimbra’s song talks quite often about nostalgia, love and passion.
  2. As a matter of fact some of his songs are true fado from Coimbra.
  3. Article published in «Portuguese American Journal».

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