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Come Fado with me

August 28th, 2005

One of the rewards I get from having an internet connection is I can download a lot of free stuff. I get to download songs that are rarely found in our music stores. Thanks to Kazaa and Limewire. These two peer to peer programs allows you to search, download and share video and audio files. You just have to type the artist or the title of the song or video and voila you get a list a la carte of your favorite stuff for your downloading delight.

My latest find are selection of songs by artists I got to know only during my schooling in Amsterdam. Together with my school buddies, a mixed bag of German, Brazilian, Portuguese, French and African nationals, we used to hang-out in a pub near our dormitory at Willemsparkweg after classes. While drinking dark beer we listen to piped in music of various genres except for the MTV type pop, hip-hop, rap or the Britney Spears kind of trash. Although I don’t speak or understand Portuguese, but the melancholic melody of the Portuguese Fado and the soulful Morna completely enchanted me.

Fado is a type of folk music which most likely originated in the 1820s in Portugal. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade (a word with no accurate equivalent in English; being a type of longing, it conveys a complex mixture of sadness, pain, nostalgia, happiness and love), and its origins are probably from a mixture of African slave rhythms with traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with Arabic influence. Some theories say it was derived from Brazilian music styles like Lundum and Modinha.

Morna (Portuguese for mild) is a genre of Cape Verdean music, derived from Portuguese fado, but also related with Brazilian modinha. Lyrics are usually in Portuguese Creole, and instrumentation include cavaquinho, clarinet, accordion, violin and guitar. Though often compared to the blues, there is no historical connection between the genres, though there are coincidental similarities.

When I returned to the Philippines I tried looking for it at our local music stores but to no avail. Thanks to the internet, now I have found what I’m looking for. I was able to download a selection of songs from two contemporary Fado artists, Bévinda and Mariza and the world’s best known Morna diva, Cesaria Evora.

Portuguese vocalist Bévinda is one of the premiere performers of fado, her homeland’s intense, emotive folk music. Her 1998 album ,Pessoa em Pessoas, interpreted the poems of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa into fado, exemplifying her devotion to her country’s traditions.

Mariza Nunes was born on December 16, 1976 in Mozambique. She moved to Portugal when she was three, and was raised in one of the most traditional quarters of Lisbon, Mouraria – Alfama, where she learned how to sing fado. Mariza is considered as a more contemporary follower of Amalia Rodrigues – Potugal’s reknown Queen of Fado music.

Cesaria Evora, born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.

Long known as the queen of the morna, she mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora’s Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country’s long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.

Aside from the Fado and Morna, I was also able to download selections from two francophone greats, Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel and Latin songs by the dutch singer Laura Fygi.

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  1. August 29th, 2005 at 18:16 | #1

    The way you endearly decribed it, I think Fado would be so fascinating to listen. It might be like the music of the Irish people, the celtics, full of sad themes and wailers.

  2. Samuel Bilibit
    August 29th, 2005 at 22:40 | #2

    Indeed Major Tom, except for the instruments and the beat used in Fado and Morna, the sad themes and the haunting voice is quite akin to Celtic.

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