Feeling Wistful, Lovelorn And Sort Of Somewhere Else Where You Shouldn't Be? Be Damned And Listen To A Few Fados
April 26, 2003 7:38 PM   Subscribe

You Are Cordially Invited To A Night Of Fados. It's Saturday night; you're hidden deep down in one of Lisbon's fado houses; so pour yourself another glass of thick, blood-red wine; cast your mind back to loves lost and the memory of joys that will never return; take out your most tear-absorbent handkerchief and prepare to indulge in the most melancholy, poetical and maudlin of all urban songs: Lisbon's Fado... [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (32 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how this website got hold of full, official versions all these classic Fados - its selection is better than the five best compilations available - but who cares? It'll probably be down by next week, when all the record labels get wind of it. So please enjoy the music of my my beloved city and country.

They're all good to excellent (note that most recording are over 50 years old, though there are about a dozen from the youngest generation) but the following tracks are absolutely essential: 01-06, 17, 20, 23, 34, 36, 38, 49, 64 and 78.

P.S. If there's enough interest, I've got a good post prepared featuring the amazing new generation of Fado singers: Ana Moura; Mariza; Mafalda Arnauth; Cristina Branco;Camané and Ana Sofia Varela.

Enjoy! There's no better antidepressant than thoroughly depressing music. Just be thankful you can't understand the words!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:40 PM on April 26, 2003

I have a habit of picking up music that I've never heard of, and a few months back I picked up a compilation of music inexplicably called Fado. When I popped it into my player, out came some very nice, interesting sounding music. There were overtones of sadness to it, but on the whole, I quite liked it. It was much to my surprise when I discovered that this was supposedly some very depressing music about love lost, children dying, and so on.

There you have my one experience with Fado. I wish that it had happened in a bar in Portugal and I was broke, had lost my girlfriend to a rich and dashing Portuguese man, found out that my parents had just died and that the son I never knew about had been stolen by gypsies, but sadly, everything was just fine in my life.

Good stuff, but I can't save it in MP3 form, can I?
posted by ashbury at 8:01 PM on April 26, 2003

Good question, ashbury - does any of MeFi's wizards know how this can be copied? As I said, it's a collection of Fados that could never exist commercially, as it involves too many different Portuguese record labels (Fado is big bucks here in Portugal). There must be a way. Or is all this music destined to be, Fado-like, just a distant memory?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:06 PM on April 26, 2003

Here is the link for the first fado. Simply replace the number in the file name for the one you wish to download, and voila, a .wma file on your hard drive.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:04 PM on April 26, 2003

Amália Rodrigues sings "Foi Deus" - testing.

It works! Hey, thanks monju_bosatsu! First bottle's on me, next time you're in Lisbon!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:25 PM on April 26, 2003

Don't say I never gave you anything! ;-)

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70
72 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80
81 82 83 84
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:34 PM on April 26, 2003

WOW! Go straight to Heaven, do not pass GO!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:39 PM on April 26, 2003

This is a great post, Miguel. I've been meaning to explore Fado, but I didn't know where to start. This is perfect, thanks! And by all means, post your post on the new generation.

And thanks for the assist, monju.
posted by homunculus at 11:22 PM on April 26, 2003

Cool link as usual, Miguel. I'd look it up, but my eyes are about to close from fatigue -- are there any links between the Portuguese fado and the Spanish saeta?
posted by Vidiot at 11:22 PM on April 26, 2003

That's funny. Just last night I was pulling my hair out trying to find some of this sad Brazilian music I heard on the radio a few years ago. After an hour of listening to samples on amazon, I gave up. This music is a bit closer to what I was looking for.
posted by shoos at 1:06 AM on April 27, 2003

[nitpick] The translation, at least on the guitar technique page, seems a little spotty. In particular, I'd kinda like to know the tuning used--they list the intervals, but not which side (bass or treble) they start from, or what the actual notes are. And I suppose it would only sound right on a proper fado guitar (is there a particular name for this type of instrument?) and not on a Les Paul, a Harmony archtop or a cheapo Korean acoustic. [/nitpick]

I'm always down for learning about new (to me, obviously) musical traditions, though, and this stuff sounds pretty cool.

Oh, and I have yet to actually try this, but if you've got a Linux box with MPlayer installed, you ought to be able to turn those .wma files into something more reasonable like .mp3 or .ogg...
posted by arto at 2:38 AM on April 27, 2003

Oh, and I have yet to actually try this, but if you've got a Linux box with MPlayer installed, you ought to be able to turn those .wma files into something more reasonable like .mp3 or .ogg...

Works with Winamp's WaveWriter output plugin, too, to turn the .wmas back to .wav files, which you can then turn into mp3s.

I've loved Fado since hearing a BBC radio documentary on the form a good few years back. This is such a such a great find. Is it still thriving in Portugal? Is it suffering the mixed fate of other 'traditional' music forms in Europe? I need links, damnit! (And a good Portuguese translation program, I suppose.)
posted by riviera at 3:07 AM on April 27, 2003


Thanks for the lovely post. I've enjoyed Fado for years, I have a few compliations and one Amália Rodrigues cd (the queen of Fado, I understand), but lately I've been getting into Madredeus, who seem to be taking Fado some place else. A sublime place, in my opinion. But as happens in many pure genres (Flamenco, for instance) sometimes tradionalists become upset at modern influences, usually because the artists who use modern influences usually have much more mainstream success than the original artists. Is this the case with Madredeus?
posted by sic at 3:37 AM on April 27, 2003

Lots of tools to convert wma -> mp3.
posted by prolific at 4:01 AM on April 27, 2003

Great stuff, Miguel - too bad I wasn't able to get your recommendations some years ago when I was in Lisbon! A guide is helpful - like homunculus, I wasn't sure where to start. Thanks for the great primer!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:31 AM on April 27, 2003

::: wild applause :::
posted by rushmc at 7:32 AM on April 27, 2003

In particular, I'd kinda like to know the tuning used--they list the intervals, but not which side (bass or treble) they start from, or what the actual notes are. And I suppose it would only sound right on a proper fado guitar (is there a particular name for this type of instrument?

Arto: there are two types of (12-string) Portuguese guitar - this little tutorial is in acceptable English and should answer your questions.

Everyone else: thanks so much for the kind words, your extraordinary open-mindedness about Fado and the technical help too. I'll definitely be working on a post about the younger generation and, as requested, about Madredeus (that's Teresa Salgueiro, the vocalist, singing "A Sombra", btw). I'll also be looking to add some material on the story and stories of the Fado - romantic, raunchy and streetwise.

I'd specially like to thank those who held back from making fun of the Fado - which would be as culturally sensitive as making fun of the Blues in the U.S.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2003

I can add my thanks for the post too. I have had the Mariza album for few months and it is great to hear other stuff. Amelia Rodriguez sounds tremendous. Perfect music for Sunday afternoon.
posted by Fat Buddha at 8:44 AM on April 27, 2003

While I have admitted certain life changing Portuguese influences into my life (I have the largest stash of Porto and salt cod in all of east Europe) Fado kind of escapes me. I tried to love it when I was in Portugal, but kept getting side tracked by all the other styles of folk music that, well, weren't all quite as depressive. Like the guitar stuff from Coimbra...

I bought a medium quality Coimbra-style fado guitar (guitar freaks: Portuguese guitar prices are insanely low in Porto. Mine was US$160 with a hardshell case.) and had a ball learning it (truly unique tuning, it mainly plays in D) and then ended up selling it to a Fado fanatic from the Republic of Moldova who just HAD to have one.

Portuguese mandolin master Julio Pereira has a great web site (in English as well) with just about everything one needs to know about the varieties of Portuguese traditional music and the many local variations on the guitar and mandolin.
posted by zaelic at 9:35 AM on April 27, 2003

Thanks, Miguel. And a question: is Fado just an urban/Lisbon sound? I was in the west Algarve (Lagos - Sagres) at the end of the eighties, and spent a couple of magical evenings in local bars with tiny gnarly local farmers who would drink spirits and sing unaccompanied songs in high, quavering, cigarette smoke drenched voices. They said it was fado, but it sounded a lot different to these music clips.

These fado links also remind me of the African singer Cesaria Evora, from Cape Verde, where the music style is called 'morna,' I think.
posted by carter at 12:01 PM on April 27, 2003

monju, I'm very curious about how you discovered where the wma files were located. Could you either email me tell us all how you did it? Can you do it for any site that streams music?
posted by ashbury at 1:26 PM on April 27, 2003

email me OR tell us...
posted by ashbury at 1:26 PM on April 27, 2003

Hmm...Berta Cardoso...any relation? ;)
posted by rushmc at 2:29 PM on April 27, 2003

Actually, when you mouse over the links on the main listing page, IE shows you the text of the java script in the status bar. For example, the link to the first song shows me javascript:janela('fado/fado_01.htm'). I took that directory and added it to the url for the page, giving me http://www.fado.biz/feg/fado/fado_01.htm. That loaded the pop-up for the first fado in the main window of my browser, from which I could view the source. After hunting around in the source, I found this in the media player script: param name="Filename" value="audio\fado_01.wma" I added that to the url, changing it to http://www.fado.biz/feg/fado/audio/fado_01.wma. That link works to download the first fado. After that, it's just a matter of changing the numbers in the link.

This is really a site specific hack, rather than anything to do with the streaming audio. If the people running the website are going to leave the directories in plain view, they shouldn't be suprised when people sniff them out.

Capturing real audio streams, now that's a pain in the ass.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:15 PM on April 27, 2003

Ah, but just try finding fado on Real's new acquisition, Listen Rhapsody [née AudioGalaxy, sort of], or even on the file-sharing networks. Amália Rodrigues is about it. But starting with the all-time greatest diva in any genre is not too shabby.
posted by hairyeyeball at 6:20 PM on April 27, 2003

the all-time greatest diva in any genre

Amália was that, I agree, hairyeyeball. I shall never get used to listening to her - her voice and truth always catches me unaware, no matter how hard I prepare myself, and I break down, again and again. It's probably not even music; just something beautifully human gone terribly right.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:41 AM on April 28, 2003 [1 favorite]

I find loads of it (I've been looking recently, coincidentally enough) but very little of it downloads. Which is probably all to the best for my karma, though not for my bank account.

My introduction to the genre (watch as Snr Cardoso starts to spit with fury, I suspect) was a CD on Luaka Bop by Paulo Bragança, then I worked backwards towards authenticity, although one CD I found had not only a cover version of As Time Goes By, but also what appeared to be Brel's La chanson des vieux amants (although not credited as such, but since it had the same melody, chords and form that's what I take it as) on it. They both fit perfectly, so it appears to be not so much a genre as an attitude.

Although obviously there's a huge gulf between genuine saudade and common South London misery.
posted by Grangousier at 4:01 AM on April 28, 2003

Oh, and to compound poor Snr Cardoso's horror, that guitar page will help me a lot with the VG88 patch I've been working on to try to emulate that uniques sound. So, thanks.
posted by Grangousier at 4:04 AM on April 28, 2003

Funny, I've got Portugal on the brain already as I just finished A Small Death in Lisbon over the weekend. Somewhere, don't remember where, I picked up a copy of Cristina Branco singing "Ai Vida." Man, talk about goosebumps...
posted by gottabefunky at 7:17 AM on April 28, 2003

Grangousier - as a matter of fact, I'd say your attitude was exactly right. You'd fit right in the eternal "What is Fado?" debate. As for South London misery, having experienced it too, try living outside England for a few years and you'll see all of it turn to saudade. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:16 AM on April 28, 2003

I was in Lisbon two weeks ago and I was amazed how early the fado bars filled up and stated turing people away. We ended up getting smashed in a fado bar/restaurant six floors under the Alfama. Expensive but well worth it.
Care to share any tips on where to hear the authentic fado experience with visitors to Portugal, Miguel?
posted by BinkyF at 3:20 PM on April 28, 2003

BinkyF: the best place nowadays, apart from the underground clubs I wouldn't publicise, is Clube do Fado. Parreirinha de Alfama is indispensable because the greatest of all fadistas sings there - Argentina Santos. Sr.Vinho is upmarket but still very good. All the rest, with no exception, are rubbish.

It's important not to look like a tourist (don't arrive too early; don't talk out loud; don't, above all, smile
or look like you're actually enjoying yourself) and to be genuinely interesting in listening to the Fado.

Some fado houses pretend to close, to drive out the tourists and then quietly reopen for the serious - though uneconomic -business of listening to the Fado being sung. That's the expression - ouvir cantar o Fado.

Um abraço!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2003

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