- Fado Portugues: Songs from the Soul of Portugal
- Tango Voices: Songs from the soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond
- Argentina: Music
- Europe: Music
- Middle East: Music
- O Fado: A Historical Perspective
Donald Cohen, attorney, musician, historian and fado expert, says that although fado in its current form is about 200 years old, its roots go back to the 12th century to traditions of song and poetry brought by Provencal troubadours, the Moors who lived in Portugal, and the Jews.
But it’s sad, longing spirit was defined by Portugal’s days as a great colonial power in the 16th century, when it sent generations of men overseas. It’s called saudade, a complex combination of nostalgia, sadness and a profound connection with fate.
“The Portuguese were the great explorers of the era…and that’s where this idea of saudade came – these men were out of the country for years at a time,” said Cohen. “Saudade comes from the Latin word that became soledad – loneliness in Spanish. Fado is one of the most rewarding and least known genres in the world music spectrum. “Fado is very rich in history musically and lyrically. “Like other things in Portuguese culture, it has been untouched. Everybody knows flamenco, about tango, about bossa nova. But when you say, ‘What about fado?’ they say, ‘Huh?’ While I want to see that change, it also makes it an undiscovered musical treasure.” Songs from the soul of Portugal with Music.
Donald Cohen, musician and historian, and author of “Fado Português: Songs from the Soul of Portugal.”
“We know that the Moors and the Jews had [secular] chants and they contributed. Portugal also had a great maritime tradition, which might have brought in influences from all over — Africa, Brazil Macau, China.”
But, says Cohen, “beginning in the 19th century, gypsy singer Maria Severa had a tempestuous, highly publicized affair with a nobleman, Count Vimioso, that stimulated interest in the music. People wondered for the first time, ‘What’s going on down there?’ The middle class and upper classes began going down to Mouraria” — one of the older, poorer neighborhoods of Lisbon, where the music was sung everywhere from taverns to street corners — “and that validated fado.” Though this is music of melancholy and longing, and has been associated with sailors, slaves, poets and kings, one thing is certain, says Mariza: “Fado was always music from poor people.”
“Fado em Mim,” reached gold in Portugal, then platinum, before going on to sell more than 100,000 worldwide. Mariza stopped running. “Fado Curvo” followed. “I got to be known as the blond fadista.”
In recent years, has sensed a change: “Teenagers are beginning to request fado. People are talking about world music. Opening clubs.
Indeed, there is a chorus of other young fadistas — Mísia, Dulce Pontes, Cristina Branco, Mafalda Arnauth — who are exploring fado’s old regrets and yearnings.
Books by Prof. Donald H. Cohen