|Brief introduction to Fado song and Folklore dances||
Fado is the tipical portuguese song about which nothing certain has been written or said.
200 years ago there was in Brasil a ball that was called fado, which corresponded to what was called
lundum in Portugal. Lundum had nothing to do with Fado. Lundum was a superstitious night dance
used by women in west Africa and played with loud musical instruments and shaking indecently their
buttocks. It was taken to Brasil by slaves and became a Brazilian song. It was brought to Portugal by
slaves and sailors. It was considered as a ball of the lower classes but, in the XVIII century, Caldas
Barbosa, a Brazilian mulatto poet and singer, took it to the court and this obscene dance won
popularity to the traditional aristocratic dances. It also became a song with this mulatto poet called
Caldas because he wrote poems to this music. In the lower classes it developed as a ball danced
orgiastically by men and women.
|But it died in the beginning of the XIX century: Fado and Fandango won. Lundum was already considered the grandfather of Fado.|
Although sometimes both songs differ they also have similar rhythms. Another descendent of Lundum is said to be Tango.
Fado means the destiny, lot, fate, fatality, fortune, predestination, doom of life and love. Thus arising from Brazil, played, sang and danced
in a decent way, it was introduced be saylors in Alfama and then everywhere in Portugal with the court returning from Brasil in 1822. It
became popular and let down lundum, fandango and other dances and popular songs. In Coimbra, students sentimentalised it their own way.
It was at the beginning restricted, circumscribed to special quarters like Alfama, Mouraria, etc. Only between 1838 and 1840 that Fado was
brought to the court by Severa with the help of his love affair, the count of Vimioso.
Fado song was first accompanied by the Spanish guitar (like lundum) but after there was a new instrument added which was the English
guitar (which became made in Portugal in the XVIII century and descended from the harpsichord).
With the social promotion of Fado (which was sometimes danced (Fado dançado)) the variety of style and subjects was amplified and was
not only a sad and sorrowful song: it was also happy (gay, cheerful), funny, satirist, etc. Female voices were a great tribute to Fado. At first,
these women came from the lower classes and then from the artistic element.
The voice of the singer has to be very good. It has to express the deepness of the soul and to sing generously till exhaustion. “The heart’s
spasm expressing its pain”.
There are several kinds of Fado: “idler Fado”, “sailor Fado” (the most ancient one), “Fado batido” (the former danced Fado), “Fado corrido”
(sung from singer to singer by different singers, each at his turn), “nocturne Fado” (night Fado), “Fado ballad”, “Fado serenata”, “Fado
Bacalhau” (codfish Fado) etc.
The most popular dance is “de roda” (dance accompanied by a song, where everybody makes a circle hand in han)).
Some foreign influences were introduced in the Portuguese Folklore from many parts of the world (Africa, Brazil, India, East, Europe), even
eastern Europe like “polkas” (dance from Poland or Check Republic with a lively rhythm, famous in the end of the XIX century. polca-
mazurca is a variety of polca) and mazurkas (it’s also a dance from Poland with a lively motion).
Portugal can be divided in four regions in what popular dances and songs are concerned:
The north has varied and lively dances also considered harsh characterized by a simple, constant and steady rhythm.
In the north, “viras” (the name means to turn, rotate and they really turn and rotate) are the most common dances. But this dance is scattered
all over the country and the tune and movement differs from region to region. It can be danced or just sung. It has ancient roots and is
exclusively minho-galician. It belongs to the group of “de roda” dances and is accompanied by wire-guitars, small guitars, french guitars,
fiddles, clarinets, triangle). The reque-reque (coming from Africa) was added latter. The Vira are the most ancient “de roda” dances with
strong Galician influences.
Another tipical dance in the north is “gótas”. They are, like “viras”, impelled and high-spirited.
In the north we also have “Chulas” (it has a slow rhythm and is the less lively in the north), malhão, modas, etc.
The center has light and sweet dances and songs like the climate but a little wavy like the soil. In Beira, lots of songs are accompanied by
clapping their hands and playing castanets with their fingers. In Ribatejo there are several dances like “vira”, “fandango” (popular tap-dance
used mainly in Ribatejo but also in Alentejo, Spain and south of France. In Spain, castanets are used but not in Portugal
The third region is Alentejo with a slow, sad and deep (profound) song like the land and harsh dances, sometimes lively and happy.
The fourth region is Algarve, with a merry, lively but superficial and sometimes erotic song and dance. The most common one is “corridinho”
(tipical of Algarve but also in other parts of Portugal, this dance is accompanied by bagpipes, triangles, mouth-organs. It has a hopping and
impelled rhythm with parts of prolonged tap-dance which makes it a high-spirited dance.
Folklore is connected to fairs and pilgimages.
Tipical costumes are used. Those of women are very rich and colourful – sometimes women were adorned with all the gold they have at home
because this was thought to be the best way to invest their money, but today it is not seen so often. Some other costumes are used – although
not so often – of very ancient roots sometimes dating back from the pre-roman period. Clothes are often embroidered with lace-work.
Sometimes there sayings written like “Love”, “nostalgy” and others with prehistoric roots.
Songs are accompanied by several tipical musical instruments like: accordions, flutes, drums, clarinets, guitars, violins, triangles and play
castanets with their own fingers.
TRÁS-OS-MONTES E ALTO DOURO
They have a tipical dance called “Pauliteiros”. Each dancer has a peg which they skilful hit against each other, accompanying drums and