Fado is as a synonym of destiny

Defined as the Portuguese music genre, Fado is normally when a Portuguese guitar is played along with a classic guitar and can be interpreted by men or women called “Fadistas”. The slow paced Fado is associated with nostalgia and melancholy, especially when the lyrics refer to themes such as health or love. On the other hand, the fast paced Fado is seen as sarcastic, ironic and humorous.


Since its origin, Fado has been seen as a synonym of destiny, fate, melancholy and health, while making parallels with other genres such as political and social criticism as well as themes of humour.

Complex Origin

The complexity of defining the exact origin of Fado is based on a prolific amount of theses, theories, and opinions of those who study this topic, and as far as the genesis goes there are many opinions. Some believe that it comes from African roots; others say it originates from Afro-Brazilians and others still believe it has Portuguese origin.


Among the diverse range of perspectives, the agreed consensus is that Fado originates from the Afro-Brazilians, coming from a dance called the “Lundum” (originally from Western Africa). The “Lundum” was danced during the time of Colonial Brazil, but has been known in Portugal since the 15th Century. The slow and measured rhythm of the “Lundum” is very similar to the verses sang in Fado during the 19th Century.


In fact, Fado became prominent after the 1820’s, in an urban and marginal context in Lisbon; it was sung in streets, taverns, bullfights, fairs and processions, theatres, and in many other manifestations, it was quickly becoming popular. This time period bestowed fame upon one name, Severa- Maria Severa Onofriana(1820-1846), an iconic figure associated with Fado, who used to sing in Bairro da Mouraria. 


From the 1930’s this paradigm suffered a change in meaning and Fado had acquired a different state from what it formally had. It was played in restaurants at low standards and used for decoration. ‘Fadista’ icons were used to promote regular Fado sessions, and were mostly advertised on billboards. Fado houses spread between the 50s and the 60s in the typical towns of Lisbon. Alfredo Marceneiro (1891-1982) - another relevant name in Fado, started his career at just 14, singing Fado in the popular towns and soon reaching huge fame that started his long lasting career.


The mass media coverage of Fado during the 50s and 60s comes down to the importance that the radio placed on Fado. How quickly Fado spread is a phenomenon and it highlights the impulsiveness of the music industry. 


Used by the new state as a vehicle of the propaganda regime, Fado entered decadence during the 70s, competing with problems of disinterest in the media during its diffusion. Other types of music such as foreign music and some other genres created a division amongst the public, as they gained a privileged state before and after the 25th April and there was a drastic decrease in Fado shows all around.

Patrimonial Portuguese Music

In 1980 Fado was recognized as Patrimonial Portuguese Music, being seen as an interest in the means of international and new upcoming music, again in the music industry. Still it was putting pressure on other music genres. In this time period, despite the feeling of change, only the most popular fadistas continued to record and maintain a regular schedule of shows, and above all abroad, like the case of Amalia Rodrigues, one of the biggest names in Fado and an important figure in history. The first public appearance of Amalia happened in 1935; with her first professional performance in 1939 it was a solo performance of quality during the saints’ day celebrations. Early on in her career she became critically acclaimed, during the50’s she digressed through the five continents, internationalizing herself and Fado as a Portuguese genre in music. When speaking about Amalia you can’t help but speak about the innovation of Fado coming from particular incorporation of poetry by David Mourão Ferreira, Pedro Homem de Mello, Alexandre O’ Neill e Vasco de Lima Couto, and others. Their musical repertory includes a collection of songbooks by Garcia de Resende and Camoes poems and his authorship. Amalia always wore black dresses and shawls, garments that are associated with fado interpreted by women.

A new generation of Fadistas

In the 90’s, the incorporation of new styles and resources with a variety of instruments such as the contrabass, accordion, tuba, saxophone gave new sounds to Fado. 


Different innovations that had been experimented with notable success with Alain Oulman and Amelia Rodrigues and Carlos do Carmo. These factors increased the musical formation making it more eclectic and the interpreters that competed to endow Fado with a crest of erudition, tried to keep away from spontaneous and improvised components that still subsist in some amateur Fado houses. 


In this context from the 2000’s, a new generation of Fadistas reached notorious national strength, reinforcing internationalization of this music genre. Names such as Mariza, Misia, Cristina Branco, Malfada, Arnauth, Camane, Ana Moura, Carminho, Antonio Zambujo and some others earned great success in branding and strengthening the projection of Fado as much in Portugal as abroad.


In 2011, Fado earned UNESCO classification of Patrimony Immaterial of Humanity. Today it is associated with the brand and identity of Portugal.

Fado in Porto...

As Fado is our most recognized musical heritage, here it is a list of places where you can enjoy performances like this:


Monday

  • O Mal Cozinhado
  • O Fado​
  • Herança Magna​


Tuesday

  • O Mal Cozinhado
  • O Fado
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém
  • Herança Magna
  • Tasca do Bairro
  • Adega Rio Douro "Casa Piedade" (in the afternoon – 16:00-19:30)


Wednesday

  • Casa Santo António
  • Casa da Mariquinhas
  • O Mal Cozinhado
  • O Fado
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém 
  • Herança Magna


Thursday

  • Casa da Mariquinhas 
  • O Mal Cozinhado
  • O Fado
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém 
  • Herança Magna


Friday

  • Casa da Mariquinhas
  • O Mal Cozinhado 
  • O Fado
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém
  • Herança Magna


Saturday

  • Casa da Mariquinhas
  • O Mal Cozinhado
  • O Fado
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém
  • Café Guarany
  • Herança Magna​


Sunday

  • Alma Portuense (every sunday at 8:30pm)
  • Fado in Porto – Caves Calém
  • Herança Magna


  • Visit Porto


    Last updated 2020-01-07

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