What is Fado? A Journey into Portugal’s Musical Symbol

You may already be familiar with Flamenco and Neapolitan Song for their fame, but if I asked you to tell me about Fado, what would you say? You might think, “I know what Fado is”, but we would still tell you, “Trust us, you don’t.” So, sit down, and let us explain what Fado is and why it’s so significant.

With just over a month left until the second SEA and YOU concert, the festival that travels across Europe bringing Fado, Flamenco, and classic Neapolitan Song together on the same stage. Since the second concert will take place in Portugal, we thought it would be fair to provide some insight into what Fado is, taking you on this magical musical adventure.

Click here to get all the updates on SEA and YOU.

For the first SEA and YOU concert held in Granada, we talked about how everything was incredibly perfect. It was a formative experience for the artists who gave birth to this project (the musicians from Napulitanata, Ideal Fado, and CajaGranada), and it was thrilling for the audience that followed it. Since it went so well, we’ve decided to REPLICATE THE MIRACLE!

If you want to know all the updates about the upcoming concert, click here, seats are FREE!

But what is Fado?

Welcome to the Portuguese world, where emotions are experienced intensely and genuinely. But now it’s time to explain what Fado is!

Fado is a musical genre born in Portugal, specifically in Lisbon, in the 19th century. Its origin is uncertain and mysterious; all we know is that it originated in the Mouraria district, thanks to the prostitute Maria Severa Onofriana, who could mesmerize her clients with the sound of her voice.

Mainly played in Fado houses, its lyrics speak of love, nostalgia, sadness, pure emotions, and it is undoubtedly the symbol of Portugal! DON’T BELIEVE IT? If we told you that Fado is a UNESCO Intangible Heritage, it would better convey how much poetry is hidden behind this musical genre, capable of enchanting souls and captivating hearts with its unique beauty.

If you ask what Fado is, we can tell you that it is much more than a simple form of musical expression, and SEA and YOU spectators understood it well, and they will understand it even more during the second SEA and YOU concert!

Everything you need to know about Fado

Fado performers, the fadistas, bring the lyrics to life through their emotionally charged interpretations worthy of the best actors. Although the melody of Fado follows a well-defined musical structure, the interpretation of the text can vary significantly from one performer to another. Fadistas have the freedom to put their personal touch on the performance, and it is through all these subjective nuances that one can better understand what Fado is.

With its melancholy, called saudade by the Portuguese, Fado can be defined as sung poetry.

What is Fado if not the art of telling joys and sorrows through music?

The demonstration of the mastery of the performers, the Fadistas, in conveying the deepest emotions is given by those trembling voices and unmistakably poignant notes, capable of shaping a sensory experience that goes beyond words.

But Fado wouldn’t be the same without its inseparable instruments. In addition to the voices of the performers, the Portuguese Guitar, with its bright and distinctive sound, the classical guitar, and the Fado viola, a bass guitar that contributes to providing a rhythmic and harmonic base to Fado music, are all essential.

Fado houses. Much more than a dinner show!

But if all this seems incredible to you, wait until you discover the place where Fado is heard! The real way to understand what Fado is is to visit the Casas do Fado, Portuguese restaurants with a structure designed specifically for the artists’ performance. These are restaurants, according to the CAE code (Economic Activity Code) 56104, where all the components are important to offer the visitor a truly unique and engaging experience, and only those with these characteristics can be called Casa del Fado.

Inside these restaurants, you can listen to various types of Fado, and here are just a few:

– Traditional Fado Lisboeta from Lisbon, with melancholic melodies and poetic lyrics.

Fado de Coimbra from the university city of Coimbra, where the lyrics often reflect the issues of students.

Fado Vadio, more informal, often performed in the streets or unconventional places by amateur or passionate artists.

Fado Bailado with influences from pop and jazz.

ATTENTION! Not all places where Fado is played are Fado houses. An example is the Ideal Fado concert hall, which, along with Napulitanata and CajaGranada, has created SEA and YOU, bringing its experience as a concert hall for Fado music to the stage. Not being technically a Fado House, as it is not a restaurant, Ideal Fado focuses on promoting Portuguese music, just as it will on the SEA and YOU stage!

Are you ready for this another adventure?

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By Davide Lancia