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  • Writer's pictureSantiago Mora

Fado or expressing melancholy with music

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Fado, Lisbon's urban song, emerged in the 19th century, in the city's historic neighbourhoods and in popular contexts. It was sung by ordinary people and even, mainly, by marginalised people. It was sung spontaneously, in open or closed spaces, and the lyrics portrayed their experiences, using slang or jargon.

However, the presence of aristocratic figures in this bohemian life and the love affair of the Count of Vimioso with the Fado singer Maria Severa (a prostitute by profession) imposed a different future on the history of Fado. In 1851, the Teatro de Revista began to integrate Fado into its musical repertoire.

The ritual of listening to Fado, played and sung by professionals, was established in specialised houses, where you could also eat traditional Portuguese dishes or tapas. But, at the same time as these places were being established, Fado vadio also emerged, sung by amateurs, in an improvised and improvised way and in duets. A ritual that has been perpetuated to this day.

From its beginnings to the present day, Fado has been gaining relevance, which was finally recognised when it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in November 2011.

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