The World of Fado

My musical listening habits are quite diverse and I imagine many of the folks who sing in the choruses I conduct might be surprised at some of the things on my iPod!  While it certainly includes an obvious representation of all types of choral music, my iPod also contains many musical styles not often heard by most people in the USA.  The reason much of the music I listen to might not be readily recognizable by most of our fellow citizens is that I am a big fan of World Music, and this is not something you’re likely to hear on American radio.  I have been fortunate to engage in quite a bit of travel around the world during my life and I always make a point of trying to learn something about the folk music of whatever country I am visiting.  My life has been enriched greatly by the diverse styles and approaches to music I have encountered.

On a recent trip to Portugal I became especially infatuated with a style of music called Fado.   Fado dates from the early 1800s and has been transmitted orally for most of the time since then.  It is difficult to describe fado, although it is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.  Fado is generally sung by one person (usually female) called a fadista, and normally accompanied by the portuguese guitar and classical guitar.  The style of singing includes quite a bit of vocal embellishment and is unlike anything I’ve heard anywhere else in the world.

The good news for all of us these days is that with the internet and YouTube one can be exposed to just about anything (that can be either wonderful or horrible!).  To give you a sense of what fado is all about I’ve included a link to one of my favorite fado videos   The video includes three male singers and three female singers, along with the appropriate instrumental accompaniment.  If you like it you can hear lots more by searching fado on YouTube and doing a Google search on the internet.  Happy listening and tell me what you think!

  • Thad Peterson

    Michael, thanks for introducing people to Fado, it’s wonderful stuff. There’s also a Fado station on Pandora that I listen to a lot.

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