Portugal’s music history has been influenced by several different European traditions. One style of folk music that is widely associated with Portuguese music is fado. Fado, which means fate in Portuguese, often has lyrics that aren’t for the weak. It is typically centered around loneliness, sadness, poverty, and other similar themes. Fado was developed from the urban poor of Lisbon and usually accompanied by the acoustic Portuguese guitar. There are a few offshoot and variations of fado, but it is all an expression of how tough life is. Amália Rodrigues is a fado singer, often called the Queen of Fado.
The Azores and the Madeiras have their own variations and musical traditions as well. There are a variety of plucked string instruments they utilize, such as the cavaquinho, the machete (no, not the big knife), and rajao. Bagpipes are also used in Portuguese music as well.
The Azores are also known for their dance called a chamarrita. This dance is performed in ¾ time and primarily accompanied by a fiddle. (There’s actually a dance in the southern Brazil-Uruguay-northern Argentina area of the same name, but it’s not quite known whether the two dances are related or not.) The Madeira Islands also have a dance called the Bailinho de Madeira (as shown above). There are several dances that are well known in mainland Portugal: Fandango (although Spanish in origin, it’s one of the national dances here, and especially from Ribatejo), Corridinho (especially of Algarve and Estremadura regions), Bailarico (starts out as a circle dance and ends in a waltz), and the Schottische (also called xote in Portugal, a type of circle dance where pairs of partners never change).
Portuguese musicians span the gamut when it comes to what genres they typically work in. I’ll run this by genres just because there are quite a few bands I briefly sampled, many of them I liked. And many of these bands sing in English as well as Portuguese. I’ll just go ahead and start with rock: Xutos & Pontapés, The Gift, Blasted Mechanism (kind of an electronic rock), Wraygunn (like a blues-rock), Moonspell (metal), Quinta do Bill, More than a Thousand (metal), Decreto 77 (punk), Dream Circus (indie rock), Nelly Furtado (she’s Canadian but parents were from the Azores), and Linda Martini.
There were a few hip-hop artists I listened to: Da Weasel, Boss AC, Sam the Kid, Buraka Som Sistema (more dance and electronica and kuduru – I originally included them in my Angola playlist), and Valete.
I did find a couple of electronica artists: Noisia and Paranormal Attack. I think I liked Paranormal Attack more because Noisia’s music seemed a little too experimental to me, almost disjointed. And I also listened to a reggae artist from Portugal, Richie Campbell. I suppose I’m related to him somewhere way back there (my maiden name is Campbell). I’m a fan of reggae music, and I liked what I heard here.
Up next: the food