The Fado music is usually linked to the portuguese word saudade. This word describes a sentiment and translates nostalgia for unrealized dreams. Fado flowers from this fatalistic world-view. It speaks of an undefined yearning that can’t be satisfied.
By the early twentieth century, Fado had become a fixture in the everyday life of Lisbon‘s working class. It was played for pleasure but also to relieve the pain of life. Skilled singers known as fadistas performed at the end of the day and long into the night. Fado was the earthy music of taverns and street corners in Alfama and Mouraria, the old poor sections of Lisbon.
Fado is split into two genres: the best known is the Lisbon Fado and the other one is the Coimbra Fado whose ancient roots can be found in the medieval songs called trovas. Sung by the students of Coimbra University, the Coimbra Fado subjects are mainly love, friendship and nostalgia.
The Lisbon Fado has been exported and has made adepts all over the world. From the 1940’s until her death in 1999, the towering figure of Portuguese fado was Amália Rodrigues. She was the diva of Fado, worshipped at home and celebrated abroad as the most famous representative of Portuguese culture.
If you want to experience Fado in real life, visit Lisbon and spend a night in a Fado Restaurant called “Casa de Fado“. The most traditional ones are located in Alfama and Mouraria, but there are some other around Lisbon, like the Bairro Alto.