I have always strongly believed that aside from visiting a country and exploring its history, another great way to feel immersed in the country’s culture is through its music. This is a different and perhaps more abstract, yet very real, way to understand the mindset of the native people and the cultural identity of the country. A prime example of seeing a country’s culture through its music is Fado: a style of music original from Portugal.
I had already heard about this music style before I came to Portugal and I had even heard some songs from Fadistas , which I thoroughly enjoyed. When I first arrived in Lisbon, I discovered more about the history of Fado, how and when the style was born, the meaning behind the lyrics, and the instruments they use. Portuguese locals have described Fado as a very particular type of music that is very special to them.
One day, I did a free walking tour in Mouraria, the birthplace of Fado, and as the guide talked about it, I decided to attend an Fado tour with Discover Lisbon. I won’t tell you everything I learnt and discovered about the music that evening, because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but I can tell you what I felt whilst listening to Fado, its rhythms and, above all, the atmosphere that was created during the show.
We got to a very homely restaurant, with a particularly relaxed atmosphere. Within ten minutes, all the waiters were singing, even the manager , who was fantastic and really engaged with us!
Once the show started, I felt like everyone in the restaurant had embarked on a wonderful journey of emotions through the different songs: some fast paced and cheerful; others slower, but they all left an effect on the audience. What touched me the most was that it wasn’t necessary to know Portuguese to understand their songs. It is a very intense and expressive style of music that broke through any language barriers and really reached the hearts of everyone in the room.
Throughout the evening I laughed, I was excited, I ate and drank, I danced, and above all, I gained a deeper understanding of the Portuguese identity: the reason why they are the way they are, this calm yet emotional character that is perfectly shown through Fado, a cultural heritage for the country.
Have you heard Fado? What do you think about it?