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Fado Music | Fado Clubs | Fado Singers

May 16, 2019

Fado music and its legacy in Lisbon, Portugal

Fado music is a genre of music that originates from the country of Portugal. Its origins stem from the city of Lisbon in Portugal, and it’s a possibility that its history traces back to the 1820s or even more so. Here we talk all about Fado, its history and its relation to the now popular tourist spot of Portugal, which happens to be the capital of the said country. Fado is the soul of Portuguese, and this is why we also try to find why is it so.

History and general information of Fado:

They say that Fado music appeared during the 19th Century but this is very much contested as many say it can be much earlier than that. The reason behind is that the information about Fado was transmitted orally and therefore made it difficult to retain the history somewhere. Even this information can only be traced back to 1820s to 1830s. This was a far cry from how history is retained today.

Whatever the case of its history may be, it is frequently regarded as the song and music about anything that gives meaning to the song. But it has to follow a traditional structure provided by the genre itself. This genre is usually stereotyped as songs and music about melancholy expressions, which is actually not that true. Songs from Fado music can also be about happiness and joy. Fado in Portuguese literally translates into both fate and destiny. It might be linked to songs of sadness because of its relation to the Portuguese word saudade, which literally translates into the word “longing”. This word symbolizes damage to the soul and loss. While it is true that generally the songs belonging to Fado are characterized by sadness, and hopelessness of the daily realities, as mentioned before these can be also about happiness.

Fado itself can be divided into two main varieties called Lisbon Fado, and Coimbra Fado. Both of their names are based on their namesake cities because they originate from there. The social context of the Fado Lisbon is set more in transgression, and marginality, with it being more popular and well known than the other variety we just mentioned. Coimbra Fado, on the other hand, has ties to the academic traditions of the University of Coimbra. Fado Lisbon can be sung be all types of gender, while Coimbra Fado is only sung by males. It is often the case that the attire of Coimbra Fado musicians will be akin to apparel that is often worn by academics, which can be things like dark robes, leggings, and capes. This is not the case with the Lisbon one. Fado Lisbon appealed more to the working class citizens and Coimbra one appealed more to the privileged class.

The Lisbon Fado comes across its popularity in the early 1900s but found itself in difficult times during the 1920s. It was because of the censorship laws and closure of the shows by the Government of that time (Portugal was under dictatorship rule in the era, when this happened). Fortunately, with the downfall of that Government and the advent of the radio, Lisbon Fado spread like wildfire in the neighboring countries.

Modern Fado, and Fado Singers:

Rainho de Fado, better known as Amalia Rodrigues (July 23, 1920 – October 6, 1999) was the one who brought the genre of Fado music to the mainstream. Her singing name translates into Queen of Fado. Even today she is known as one the best fado singers ever to exist. Today, the contemporary music of Fado owes its existence to the Queen of Fado herself, Amalia. Here singing name was given to her by her followers as a token of appreciation.

Amalia was known for here extraordinaire timbre voice, charisma and vibrant personality. This is made here a national celebrity at the very least, and her services were regularly requested by Monarchs, Government Officials, and Privileged Class of her time. Here influence can be seen the modern day Fado everywhere, and she is also credited with putting Fado music on the world map. She has essentially won Legion d’Honneur by the French government, and when she died she was given a resting place in Lisbon’s National Pantheon, becoming the only women to be part of it. Due to her modern influence, a lot of musical instruments like accordion, piano, and violin were added into the Fado genre. 

Again due to her influence, the current generation of Fado singers is experimenting Fado with other genres of music.  Current singers of Fado include Dulce Pontes, Ana Moura, and Madredeus but is not limited to them. Another one of them, called Marzia is highly popular in this genre, and by the looks of it, she is kind of following the footsteps of Queen of Fado. Marzia herself has been awarded numerous trophies for her work, and have had numerous concerts, both local and international. She was even featured on the America show, The David Letterman Show.

Why you shouldn’t miss the Fado in Lisbon?

Just like its birth city, Lisbon, Fado itself has been seeing a resurgence in its music all over the world. With the allure of Lisbon that it is becoming affordable, is having some kind of architectural renaissance, and also becoming a hotspot destination for international visitors, Fado is also finding its audience in increased numbers.

Lisbon’s resurgence is not the only one of the reasons it is happening as the fado singers of the modern day are experimenting with other genres and different instruments. This is why around the cobblestoned streets of this capital city there are around 40 fado music Lisbon houses. Many popular music festivals and concerts are also playing host to this music genre, which is generating a lot of awareness for it. What more is that Fado was recently inscribed by UNESCO as a culturally significant music genre of the city of Lisbon.

This is too good for a genre that almost went extinct some centuries ago. Locals and international visitors alike are saying that listening to fado is one of the best experiences one can have when in Lisbon alongside its swirling alleyways and teeming restaurants and bars.

They say Fado is Lisbon’s versions of the blues. This is where the vocals that are inscribed by heartache, and 12 string guitar are in full swing. Many female fado singers (also called fadistas) wear a black shawl and extreme red lipstick as a tribute to the Queen of Fado. Amalia Rodrigues.

The clubs of fado in Lisbon can be separated into two classifications: namely, Adega and Tasca. These clubs can be called fado restaurant Lisbon. Adega clubs require reservations, and a full course dinner is served. At the time the chefs and the singers of the genre are one and the same. Doors for this kind of fado clubs usually open around 8 pm of Lisbon time. It is a polar opposite with the Tasca clubs found in Lisbon. It is because there is an open-mic invitation for different types of fado singers. You may find that there can be a new male amateur or veteran women who have years of experience in the genre. In the Tasca type of Fado clubs there can be an edge to edge to squeezing of the crowd, so be sure not to miss it out. One can say, Tascas are the traditional bars of Lisbon and other countries of Portugal, where they serve drinks and fado music to enjoy.

One of the best-known Adagas is Clube De Fado, which is located at R. de São João da Praça 86, 1100-135 Lisboa. Because it is an Adega, it is elegant and alluring all the same. This is where you can found the allure of Portuguese guitar, and the taste of Portuguese cuisine together. Tasca de chico is a renowned Tasca located at R. of Diário de Notícias 39, 1200-141 Lisboa. Established since 1993, this is a premier nightlife location for nocturnals residing in or visiting Lisbon. One can enjoy the taste of different drinks of choice with the music of fado with surprise visits from different singers of this genre. If you want to hear some music of the fado genre by non-professionals, then you should try it sometime. Both of them are the best fado in Lisbon for their own classification.

Fado events and Shows:

The clubs mentioned just above are not only places in Lisbon where you can listen to fado, as there can be the option of a live Fado show Lisbon. We mean to say is that you can catch it as a concert or in the fado stage of a music festival.

The best live fado show in Lisbon is the “Fado in Chiado“, which can bare the soul of Lisbon out during its live performance. It is a 50-minute traditional Fado show that does not shy away from bearing its soul out for the attendees. Its meeting point is Rua da Misericórdia 14, 2nd floor, as this is where you have to first meet up, in order to get in the concert. All concert attendees must come here. A print or mobile voucher can be accepted here, from where there is instant access for the prospective attendee. Food and drinks are not available here, so in that case, you need to bring your own. This concert is also wheelchair accessible.

Another way to get to these live performance of a fado show is to visit a music festival in Lisbon, which is bound to have a musical fado stage somewhere in it. This is going to especially be true if the festival is happening in Lisbon. Caixa Alfama is one of those that take place in the oldest district of Lisbon and does so every year. It is the celebration of Lisbon’s and Portugal’s traditional music, where many come to have fun and celebrate the rhythms of Fado. Here top talent representing fado come together to give out a live performance from the esteemed genre. The festival itself is not ill-mannered, as people of all ages are there to celebrate the genre itself. So you do not need to worry about anything here when it comes to the security.

What and What not do during an ongoing Fado:

While the Tascas are relatively more casual than Adegas, there can be a certain rule to absorbing the music of fado. The most basic rule is that one should never speak during an ongoing performance, as it is considered rude and ill-mannered for fado music attendees.

Additionally, One should clap his or her hands when a fado performance is coming to an end. This is a way appreciating for the Fado Lisbon performance. For Coimbra fado one should make a gesture like a cough, to show his or her appreciation for the at hand performance of Fado.

Also, it is best to switch off your devices for any kind of performance related to fado music. If one easily adheres to these rules, then they will be sure that they would not be interrupted by others for anything.

Where else one can experience the culture of Fado in Lisbon:

There are many ways to experience fado in this capital city of Portugal. A lot of them have been mentioned before. But we haven’t told you that the swirling and cobblestoned alleyways of Lisbon can also provide a free experience of fado. A lot of musicians are seen giving their trails of fado music on the paths of these cobblestoned alleyways. There you can listen to them for free, but do not forget to provide some tip to them as a token for appreciation.

Additionally, there is a whole fado museum called the Museum of Fado, which can be found in Lisbon to absorb the history of fado, up, close and personal.

Final words:

This is the end of the line here, and we would like to bow out. With respect to music, Fado is being increasingly popular just like the city of its birth. We would like you to visit this city, and as an extension also visit the places where you can also listen to the city’s traditional Fado music.

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