Tag Archives: Madredeus

The Passionate Story of Fado

Fado star Mariza

Fado music is the heart of the Portuguese soul. It is one of the oldest urban folk music styles in the world. Some say it came as a dance from Africa in the 19th century and was adopted by the poor on the streets of Lisbon. Or perhaps it started at sea as the sad, melodic songs created by homesick sailors and fishermen.

Whatever its origins, fado’s themes have remained constant: destiny, betrayal in love, death and despair. A typical lyric goes: “Why did you leave me, where did you go? I walk the streets looking at every place we were together, except you’re not there.” It’s a sad music and a fado performance is not successful if an audience is not moved to tears.

All fado is dominated by the sentiment known as saudade. While there is no precise English definition for this word, it may be translated roughly as ‘yearning.’ Essentially it describes the soul of the music and is the measure of understanding that passes between performer and audience.


Cover of A Origem do Fado by José Alberto Sardinha

Fado History

By the early twentieth century, fado had become popular in the everyday life of Lisbon’s working class. It was played for pleasure but also to relieve the pain of life. Skilled singers known as fadistas performed at the end of the day and long into the night. Fado was the earthy music of taverns and brothels and street corners in Alfama and Mouraria, the old poor sections of Lisbon. (Another strain of fado, Coimbra fado, was favored among university students and professors.)

The fado is normally sung by men or women and accompanied by one Portuguese guitar and one classical guitar, which in Portugal is called viola. This song reached its golden era in the first half of the 20th century, when the Portuguese dictatorship of Salazar (1926-1968) forced the fado performers to become professional and confined them to sing in the fado houses and the so called “revistas”, a popular genre of “vaudeville”.

The main names of that period were: Alfredo Marceneiro, Amalia Rodrigues, Maria Teresa de Noronha and guitar players Armandinho and Jaime Santos.


The Queen of Fado Amalia Rodrigues

From the 1940s until her death in 1999, the towering figure of Portuguese fado was Amalia Rodrigues. She was the diva of fado, worshiped at home and celebrated abroad as the most famous representative of Portuguese culture. When she died the country’s prime minister called for three-days of national mourning. Such is the hold of fado over the people of Portugal.

Saudade

The essential element of fado music is saudade, a Portuguese word that translates roughly as longing, or nostalgia for unrealized dreams. Fado flowers from this fatalistic world-view. It speaks of an undefined yearning that can’t be satisfied. For Portuguese emigrants fado is an expression of homesickness for the place they left behind.

Like other forms of deeply moving folk music such as flamenco, American blues, Argentine tango or Greek rembetiko, fado cannot be explained; it must be felt and experienced. One must have the soul to transmit that feeling; a fadista who does not possess saudade is thought of as inauthentic. Audiences are very knowledgeable and very demanding. If they do not feel the fadista is up to form they will stop a performance.

Duarte at EXIB 2016 in Evora – Photo by Angel Romero

Fado can be performed by men or women, although many aficionados prefer the raw emotion of the female fadista. Dressed in black with a shawl draped over her shoulders, a fadista stands in front of the musicians and communicates through gesture and facial expressions. The hands move, the body is stationary. When it is done correctly, it is a solemn and majestic performance.

Carminho

Aside from the Lisbon fado there is another completely different form of this song, sung by the students of Coimbra University whose ancient roots can be found in the medieval songs called trovas. Here the subjects are mainly love, friendship and nostalgia. This form of fado reached its most famous period in the 1950s and 1960s when names like Edmundo Bettencourt, Luis Gois, José Afonso and the musicians Artur Paredes, Carlos Paredes and Antonio Portugal among others, combined new forms and lyrics to a song which was limited to student circles.

Fado guitarist Antonio Chainho playing the Portuguese guitar – Photo by Alexandre Nobre

The traditional accompaniment for the fadista is a Portuguese guitar, or guitarra, a 12-stringed instrument, and a bass guitar, or viola. Sometimes a second acoustic guitar is added. In recent years, fado recordings have added piano, violin and accordion, instruments which sometimes accompany the music on the streets of Lisbon.

Fado Today


Cover of the album New Queens of Fado (Arc Music, 2016), featuring Joana Amendoeira, Ana Moura, Carminho, Mariza, Cristina Branco, Katia Guerreiro, Mafalda Arnauth, Misia

Today the younger generation in Portugal is respectful but not dedicated to fado. However, a new generation of young musicians have contributed to the social and political revival of fado music, adapting and blending it with new trends.

Contemporary fado musicians like Misia have introduced the music to performers such as Sting. Misia and fadistas like Cristina Branco and Mariza, Amelia Muge, Antonio Zambujo, Ana Lains, Ana Moura, Joana Amendoeira, Katia Guerreiro, Mafalda Arnauth, walk the fine line between carrying on the tradition and trying to bring in a new audience.

Cover of the album Queens Of Fado – The Next Generation (Arc Music, 2017) featuring Cuca Roseta, Yolanda Soares, Carminho, Raquel Tavares, Gisela João, Claudia Aurora, Carla Pires and Joana Rios

One of the biggest names in the new generation of male fado singers is award-winning Marco Rodrigues.

2018 saw the rise of a new fado revelation, Sara Correia, who released her debut album Sara Correia.

(Sources: World Music Central, World Music Institute, World Music Network)

Coimbra Fado

Coimbra Fado is a genre of fado originating in the city of Coimbra, Portugal. This fado is closely linked to the academic traditions of the University of Coimbra and is exclusively sung by men; both the singers and musicians wear black capes during performances, the remaining part of the students outfit. It is sung at night, almost in the dark, in city squares, streets, or fado houses. (source: Fado group Verdes Anos)

Recommended Fado Recordings

Portugal: The Story of Fado
Fado: Exquisite Passion
The Rough Guide to Fado
Queens of Fado
Fados from Portugal
Great Voices of Fado
Queen of the Fado by Amalia Rodrigues
Rough Guide: The Music of Portugal
Queens Of Fado – The Next Generation

Fado Artists:

The following artists perform fado or fado-influenced music: Ala Dos Namorados, Almaplana, Amélia Muge, Ana Laíns, Ana Marina, Ana Moura, Antonio Chainho, Antonio Zambujo, Armenio de
Melo, Bicho de 7 cabeças, Camané, Catarina Cardeal, Cristina Branco, Custodio Castelo, Duarte, Grupo Cancao de Coimbra, Joana Amendoeira, Jorge Fernando, Katia Guerreiro, Lula Pena, Mario Pacheco, Madredeus, Mafalda Arnauth, Maria Amelia Proen, Mariza, Melian, Mike Siracusa, Misia, Nem Truz Nem Muz), Ramana Vieira, Sonia Tavares, Teresa Salgueiro, Verdes Anos – Fado group, Cuca Roseta, Yolanda Soares, Raquel Tavares, Gisela João, Claudia Aurora, Carla Pires, Marco Rodrigues, Joana Rios, and Sara Correia.

Fado Books:

A History of the Portuguese Fado by Paul Vernon (Routledge, 1998)
Fado Portugues – Songs from the Soul of Portugal by Donald Cohen (2004)
Fado and the Place of Longing, Loss, Memory and the City by Richard Elliott (Routledge, 2010)
A Origem do Fado [includes 4 CDs] by José Alberto Sardinha (Tradisom, 2010)
Fado Resounding: Affective Politics and Urban Life by Lila Ellen Gray (Duke University Press, 2013)
Fado and the Urban Poor in Portuguese Cinema of the 1930s and 1940s by Michael Colvin (Boydell & Brewer, 2016)

Fado sites:

Portal do Fado, Portuguese portal dedicated to fado.

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Artist Profiles: Rodrigo Leão

Rodrigo Leão

Rodrigo Leão is one of the greatest Portuguese composers of his generation. This great Portuguese musician, founding member of the Madredeus group and key element of the Sétima Legião lineup, undertook his solo career in 1993 to explore new musical terrains.

For a long time, the trio Setima Legião was the passion of Rodrigo Leao: the constant presence of musicians who exchanged ideas and friendship became an aspect of their music that will never be dispensed with. Then came the days of Madredeus. Rodrigo Leão found in Pedro Ayres Magalhaes the ideal companion for his musical idea. Together they built one of the key groups of contemporary Portuguese music, Madredeus.

Meanwhile, in 1989, Rodrigo Leão made what can be considered his first solo work: the soundtrack for a film by the young director Manuel Mozos Um passo, outro passo e depois …

Four years later came the decisive test: the edition of the album Ave Mundi Luminar, under the name of Rodrigo Leao and Vox Ensemble. This initial album shows a new trajectory in the composition of Rodrigo Leao. He abandons the pop format to proceed through more contemporary sounds, closer to Sakamoto or Nyman, mixed with classical vocal and musical influences. Ave Mundi Luminar was produced by Antonio Pinheiro da Silva and features Francisco Ribeiro (vocals and arrangements) and Teresa Salgueiro (vocals), both from Madredeus, a group that Leão had just left.

In 1996, Rodrigo Leao directed another project with the editor Herminio Monteiro: the
The group was called Os Poetas and the disc Entre Nos e As Palabras based on a poem by the Portuguese surrealist poet Mario Cesariny. The following year he released Theatrum, his second solo album, in which he traveled to darker and disturbing territories.

Pasión is a compilation album recorded live.

Discography:

With Sétima Legião

A Um Deus Desconhecido (1984)
Mar d’Outubro (1987)
De um Tempo Ausente (1989)
O Fogo (1992)
Auto de Fé (Live) (1994)
Sexto Sentido (1999)

With Madredeus

Os Dias da Madredeus (1987)
Existir (1990)
Lisboa (Live) (1992)
O Espírito da Paz (1994)
Ainda , soundtrack (1995)

With Os Poetas

Entre Nós e as Palavras (1997)

Solo albums

Ave Mundi Luminar (1993)
Mysterium, EP (1995)
Theatrum (1996)
Alma Mater (Columbia, 2000)
Pasión (Columbia, 2001)
Cinema (Columbia, 2004)
Portugal, Um Retrato Social (Sony BMG Music Portugal, 2007)
O Mundo (compilation with new material) (2006)
Portugal, um Retrato Social, soundtrack (2007)
A Mãe (2009)
Equador (Farol 2010)
A Montanha Mágica (Sony Music, 2011)
La Cage Dorée (Zazi Films, 2013)
Songs (compilation with new material) (2012)
The Butler, soundtrack (2013)
O Espírito De Um País (Ao Vivo Na Assembleia Da República) (2014)
Florestas Submersas (2015)
A Vida Secreta Das Máquinas Blitz (Uguru 2014)
O Espírito de Um País (Sony Music Portugal 2014)
O Retiro (Universal Music Portugal, 2015)
Florestas Submersas (Uguru 2015)
Life Is Long (Glitterhouse Records 2016)
100 metros, soundtrack (2017)
O Aniversário (Universal Music Portugal, 2018)
Os Portugueses (Sony Music 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Madredeus

Madredeus in 2000

Creating a distinctly modern Portuguese sound, Madredeus became one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful Portuguese bands in Europe. This Lisbon-based sextet’s music is steeped in Portuguese culture, informed by a wide range of musical influences and prized by audiences throughout Europe, Brazil, and Japan.

In 1985 Pedro Ayres Magalhaes, bassist of Herois do Mar and Rodrigo Leao, bassist of Sétima Legiao, began to mature the idea of making another type of music due to the fatigue caused by their involvement in the Portuguese pop scene.

During a break in the activities of their respective groups, Pedro and Rodrigo joined to rehearse some guitar repertoires. Pedro also presented some lyrics although they lacked a voice. They were joined by accordionist, Gabriel Gomes.

Soon, a cellist who was studying at the Lisbon Conservatory began to collaborate with them. However, they continued to lack a voice, because despite doing continuous auditions, they did not find one that fully satisfied them. One night, Rodrigo and Gabriel visited the Barrio Alto and discovered a young girl who sang a fado at a table with some friends. They immediately established contact. Everyone agreed that it was the voice they were looking for. So they started rehearsing together.

The rigors of winter forced them to look for a more welcoming place and that is how they ended up rehearsing in the convent of Madre de Deus, in Xabregas, east of Lisbon.
During 1987, Madredeus’s essays gradually transformed into a gathering of friends and musicians in which opinions and ideas were shared. The group remained nameless so those who frequented the rehearsals began to call them “Madredeus”.

Meanwhile, Pedro Ayres began to tempt the label with which he released the records of his previous group, with some recordings by the new group. At the same time, Rodrigo Leao began to experience a new sound, that of the synthesizer. His first work was recorded in the same rehearsal place. To make little noise the musicians played barefoot and had to stop the recording every time a heavy vehicle passed by, due to the noise. On November 30, the album was presented.

From there on, instrumental arrangements inspired by tradition, that sought to revive the interest and taste for the Portuguese language began to have more and more followers.

The first week of December of that year “Os Dias da Madredeus” was released. The album immediately became an assiduous presence on radios and newspapers and began to be an obligatory reference of Portuguese music.

In 1988, the group began to be constantly requested for more concerts in Portugal. That year was very important in consolidating the group in its own country. The following year, they had exceeded all initial expectations.

Two years later, Madredeus recorded the album Existir. For the first time in a studio. At that time they met Antonio Pinheiro da Silva who would continue with them as a producer on their first albums.

In 1991 they gave their first concert in Spain, where they would reap great successes. That same year, they recorded their first live work, Lisbon. EMI reissued the second work album.
In 1992 and in 1993 they had already traveled throughout European countries, America and Japan.

In 1994, after a short break after the frenzied activity of the previous year, the band started a relationship with Wim Wenders who was preparing a film about Lisbon, and wanted to use some Madredeus songs in the soundtrack. They flew to England to record some songs, and decided, to the delight of Wim Wenders, to create some of them expressly for the film. They came back with two albums instead of one. So the first of them was published in the spring under the title Espírito da Paz.

After several concerts, performing in places of great prestige, Rodrigo Leao left the group to dedicate himself to his solo career and was immediately replaced by Carlos María Trindade. He accompanied Madredeus on a long tour of Spain. Then they traveled around the world carrying their music. At the end they presented the songs of the soundtrack of the film in an album, the second that year, titled Ainda.

1996 was a year in which concerts and breaks and conversations were interspersed. A year later, Gabriel Gomes and Francisco Riveiro left the group. Bassist Fernando Judice replaced them. It was a new group that marked a new stage in the career of Madredeus.

In 1998 they recorded live O Paraiso, a trip throughout its musical career. During these two years they resumed their tours and continued to be successful all over the world.

Then came “Antologia“, a disc composed of travel notes brought from around the world. Images of moments, snapshots of emotions, some of Madredeus’ songs, built on dreams and landscapes, hopes and longings.

In November 2007, longtime vocalist Teresa Salgueiro left Madredeus.

Madredeus in 2012

In April 2012 Madredeus released Essencia and announced too its new lineup, featuring Beatriz Nunes (vocals), Pedro Ayres de Magalhães (guitar), Carlos Maria Trinidade (synthesizer), Jorge Varrecoso (violin), Antonio Figueirido (violin) and Luis Clode (cello).

Discography:

Os Dias Da Madredeus (EMI, 1987)
Existir (EMI, 1990)
Lisboa (EMI, 1992)
O Espírito Da Paz (EMI, 1994)
Ainda (EMI, 1995)
O Paraíso (EMI, 1997)
O Porto (EMI, 1998)
Movimento (EMI, 2001)
Euforia (Capitol Records, 2002)
Electronico (Capitol Records, 2002)
Um Amor Infinito (EMI, 2004)
Faluas Do Tejo (EMI Music Portugal, 2005)
Essência (Éter, 2012)
Capricho Sentimental (Éter, 2015)

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