Tag: Meta

Total 6 Posts
Where I, the author, directly address you the reader. Usually about this website. The Meta tag is also applied to posts that require more work, but which I have decided to publish anyway even though they are not yet complete - the equivalent of a stub in Wikipedia.

Different versions of classic Cabo Verdean Morna "Sodade"

Césaria Évora "Sodade" (Longing)

Césaria Évora "Sodade" (Longing) live in Paris, 2004

Words and Music: Amândio Cabral
First appeared on Césaria Évora's 1992 album "Miss Perfumado"

The words are sung in the Portuguese-based creole language spoken on the Cape Verde islands, where the song was written sometime in the 1960s. The song is now sung throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, and here we present several versions. It is one of the most famous examples of Morna, the plaintive ballad style of the islands.

Cabo Verde became independent from Portugal in 1975, after the Portuguese revolution brought the colonial wars to a close. Cabo Verde later split off from Guinea-Bissau, on the African mainland, from where it had been run during Portuguese rule.

"Sodade" seems to mean the same as the Portuguese word "saudade" [sad, alone, yearning, pining, missing you etc], but the music sounds more laid back than, for example, Fado.

What it's about: The singer is missing home and someone far away, and regretting their parting. So it is a classic song of homesickness, and of pining for someone, hence its universal appeal.

Who showed you this long path
Who showed you this long path
This path to São Tomé?

Longing, longing, longing
for my homeland of São Nicolau

If you write to me, I'll write to you
If you forget me, I'll forget you
Until the day you return

Who showed you this long path
Who showed you this long path
This path to São Tomé?

Longing, longing, longing
for my homeland of São Nicolau.

Tito Paris in a live performance for a radio

Continue Reading



Welcome! This whole site is a sampler of Portuguese music, so you can hear what it sounds like and get a feeling for what it means. It concentrates on the styles most popular in Portugal, going back over the last 50 years so you can find out how this extraordinary music has come about.

The Portuguese do of course listen to other western music, but I don't cover that here. Instead the focus is on music from Portugal sung for the most part in Portuguese. To the extent copyright law allows me I give samples of the lyrics and translations into English where I can. Where I can't translate I'll paraphrase or give a summary of what I think it's about.

Music is a form of memory. It helps create a shared understanding among people, a sense of who we are and what we have in common. Music can do this because it evokes feelings. And what we have in common with other people is only occasionally knowledge or opinions. What we share with other people is feelings. Discovering and connecting with an unfamiliar music deepens our connection with humanity, and our own self-knowledge. Music thus becomes a source of strength, hope and resilience.

About the Author

I'm Ian Stobie, a blogger based in the UK. I live in England, but love Portuguese music. I want to discover more of it and understand what it means.

I first visited Portugal in 1975 at the tail end of the Revolution. There was a lot going on at the time, but I didn't notice much in the way of music.

Continue Reading

Mísia sings a poem by Fernando Pessoa "Autopsicografia"

Mísia "Autopsicografia"

Mísia "Autopsicografia" (Self-analysis)

Portuguese guitar: Ângelo Friere

Mísia and Pessoa - two great pretenders

What it means:

Here's my fairly free translation, to get the meaning across.


The poet is a pretender
pretending so completely
that when they pretend that they're in pain
they end up feeling their real pain.

And to those who read what the poet writes,
the pain they are carefully reading feels
like neither of the two that the poet had,
but one the readers don't actually feel.

And thus going round on the train track,
to entertain and amuse the reason,
is this wind-up train
that we call the heart.

The poet is a pretender
pretending so completely
that when they pretend that they are in pain
it's pain that they truly feel.

Pessoa's poem only has three verses. Mísia makes it longer by repeating each couplet immediately, a fairly standard practice for a singer. Then after singing Pessoa's third and final verse, there's a violin interlude, and she ends by singing the first verse again.

This means that where Pessoa finishes up with this wind-up train that we call the heart (comboio de corda que se chama coração), Mísia ends up with the poet (or singer) feeling pain that they truly feel (a dor que deveras sente).

As sung by Mísia, complete
with repetitions and ending swap.


O poeta é um fingidor
Finge tão completamente
O poeta é um fingidor
Finge tão completamente

Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.
Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.

E os que lêem

Continue Reading

History of Portugal



218 BC The Romans arrive in the Iberian peninsula

Their initial motive is to dislodge the Carthaginians, who had an expanding military presence on the south and east coasts at the time of Hannibal in the second Punic war. Defeating the Carthaginians in Iberia was to take the Romans 12 years.

The Romans then set about colonising the whole peninsula, both Spain and modern Portugal. This was to take 200 years to complete, and involved the Republic's two top generals, Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, at various stages. It was a considerable undertaking, involving at its maximum seven Roman legions in the field at the same time.

The Romans bring Latin. Modern Portuguese is basically still Latin - optimised over the years for poetry and song.

Ângela Silva Rodrigo Leão "Carpe diem"

Ângela Silva sings composer Rodrigo Leão's "Carpe diem" (Seize the day) in Latin

This is a hymn to love made up of common Latin phrases. Though Latin is not widely understood now, Portuguese singers don't have much trouble with the pronunciation and phrasing.

139 BC Death of Viriatus - resistance begins to fade

Viriatus (Viriato in Portuguese) is the Portuguese equivalent of Vercingetorix in France and Boudica or Caratacus in Britain. Resistance to the Romans was most intense in the upper Douro valley, on both the Portuguese and Spanish sides of the modern border.

Local hero Viriatus, hailing from somewhere in the Douro valley, is celebrated today in both countries. After numerous victories Viriatus was finally killed by treachery (like that other famous enemy of Rome, Arminius in Germany).


Continue Reading

Ana Moura and Mariza recycle a classic Fado tune

Table of contents

This tune goes back over 100 years, deep into the history of Fado. It keeps reappearing with different words, as a new song with a new name, coming back to life on the breath of each singer. This is one of the keys to Fado's survival - it's a tradition that keeps reinventing itself for new generations of listeners.

Ana Moura "Ninharia"

Ana Moura "Ninharia" (A trifling matter)

Portuguese guitar: Ângelo Freire
Music: Carlos Da Maia
Words: Maria do Rosário Pedreira
From the 2016 album "Moura". This live performance is from the Coliseu in Porto.

What it's about: Ana has argued with someone about a matter of no importance ("ninharia" - a trifling matter or trifle in English) and now regrets it. Worse, it was her lover. She saw something in their eyes that caused her to throw them out. And, as fate would have it, into the arms of another woman.

Now Ana is alone. But there is nothing she can do about it. Whenever she sees her former lover she realises that the break-up was her own fault, is overcome with emotion and simply can't face approaching them to try and make up. Instead she just howls about her plight.

This is Fado!

Here's an extract from the lyrics in Portuguese, with my English free translation below.

Precipitada, incontida
Expulsei-te da minha vida
Por uma coisa de nada!

Rashly, without restraint
I threw

Continue Reading