Traditional / folk music of Portugal
Maybe nowadays, we don’t heard so much from Portugal in the news, or it doesn’t have so much name. But Portugal can be said as one of the most influential country in the music and culture of the world. Portuguese started to explore the world from 14th century. After two hundred years of exploration, they spread their colonial empire through east to west of the world long before English and French arrived to many areas. They colonized or established many trade systems from Indonesia in Asia, Cape Verde in Africa or Canada and Brazil in America Island. Maybe one of the most import aspect of influence on traditional music of different part of the world happened when they established the slavery trade from Angola and Mozambique to Brazil and South America. By this trading system, many musical tradition went to Brazil, many African rhythms, and many musical instrument. This lead to huge change in the music of Brazil. As an example berimbau is a traditional music instrument in Brazil with music and dance genre named capoeira which has African (maybe Angolan) root. Samba is another genre which developed by evolution of some African music. Choro music is one of the most important popular music genre in Brazil which was born with mixture of samba and some European music which passed through Portugal to Brazil. Big colonial Empire of Portugal had big cultural and musical trade with each other and also with the Portugal mainland. Many of folk music genres or traditional music instruments in different part of the world, developed by this big phenomena. Some of the known traditional music in Portugal mainland also can be born in Brazil or other colonial lands.
Fado is the most well-known folk music of Portugal. The root of this traditional music of Portugal maybe back to Africa and Moorish culture. The modern form of the music maybe shaped in the early time of 1820s or 1830s when this African culture met Portuguese. In those times Lisbon and Coimbra was multi-cultural cities. Fado also maybe originated from Brazilian Modinha. Slowly it found its way to cafe, bars and urban culture. The lyrics and theme of fado music is about regret, mourning and feeling of loss. The word Fado in English means “fate”. This traditional music is described as Portuguese expression of 'the blues,' Maria Severa was the famous fado singer in 19th century. She had a habit of appearing with a black shawl which until today is part of fadistasts image. This folk music traditionally accompanied by a 12-strings guitar named Guitarra Portuguesa and a smaller guitar named violao. Also sometimes violin and flute accompany the music.
Amalia Rodrigues is another fadista who made this music very popular during 20th century and in some way she is still one of the biggest musician star in Portugal. She is named as Queen of Fado. She mixed the urban and rural fado music of Lisbon and Coimbra and in some way, turned this music into female dominant. With her effort, fado became popular in Latin America too.
Canto livre or Nova Canção or Nueva canción
Nova Canção or Nueva canción means “New Song”. This genre of music was actually a political, human right and activism movement specially from left parties. It started from Chile but later also moved to other South American countries, Portugal and Spain. The musicians used their root traditional music to send their resistant message. José Afonso with the help of some other musicians like Sérgio Godinho and Luís Cília, they shaped this musical movement in Portugal. After the revolution of 1974, this genre gained more popularity and got the name Canto livre.
There are also many regional folk music genres in Portugal. Each one has different character and shaped with different dance style. Trás-os-Montes is a historical province located in north of Portugal. Traditional music in this province has a unique musical scale. Bagpipes is one of their traditional musical instrument. Violin and 12 strings Portuguese guitar also uses in their music. Cante Alentejano is another folk music genre from Alentejo region and it is a vocal type of music.
Some other folk music instrument which can be named are machete, cavaquinho , rajao (all are different small stringed guitar like ukulele) and Brinquinho.
If you have more information about folk music of Portugal, its genres or instruments or you know specific song on each genre, please kindly contact us and let us know about it or send them through “Post a Song” link on top of the page. Also if you see any wrong information about the song tags on the list below please kindly let us know.
Traditional / folk songs for Portugal
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