Tag: Portuguese guitar

Total 4 Posts
Playing a key role in the Fado music of Lisbon and Coimbra, the Portuguese guitar produces a distinctive sound that is part of the feeling of Portugal. It has a round body and 12 steel strings arranged in six courses. These are usually plucked with plectrums strapped to the index finger and thumb, which helps achieve the high clear tone and rapid runs of individual notes characteristic of Fado accompaniment.

Ana Moura sings a bold feminist Fado

Ana Moura "Amor afoito"

Ana Moura "Amor afoito" (Bold love)

Portuguese guitar: Ângelo Freire
Music: Jorge Benvinda
Words: Nuno Figueiredo (both of the band Virgem Suta)
From the 2012 album "Desfado"

This song is a masterpiece of both singing and the Portuguese guitar. It also has innovative words. It's from her top-selling album Desfado (Unfado), which sets out to expand the range of topics and moods Fado can deal with.

What it's about: Here Ana is setting out her terms for a relationship. She is speaking directly and boldly to her lover, telling them what she expects and how the two of them can proceed. This is a far cry from the usual subject matter of Fado, which is rich in songs of regret, hopeless yearning and despair. Here the fadista is flirtatious and assertive. You get the feeling that her lover, who she addresses as tonto (silly), is likely to comply.

Dou-te o meu amor,
Se mo souberes pedir, tonto,
Não me venhas com truques, pára,
Já te conheço bem demais

I'll give you my love,
If you know how to ask for it, silly,
Don't come to me with tricks, stop it,
I already know you too well.

The YouTube video above has the lyrics in Portuguese on-screen in an easy to follow way. The audio is the album version. Desfado by the way is still the top-selling Portuguese album - in any genre, of all time.

Here's a live version of Ana singing it. This has the lyrics in Portuguese in the YouTube description (viewable on most devices).

Ana Moura "Amor afoito" live


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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

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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

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Who are some of the greatest interpreters of Portuguese Fado?

I'll concentrate on singers still performing today. I usually mention the principal guitarist too, particularly if they are playing the high-pitched Portuguese guitar, sometimes called the Fado guitar. This is pretty important, as it often performs almost a duet with the singer, and is a key part of the performance. In other cases an ordinary acoustic guitar can play this role, or even a piano. Or the singer can dominate.

Cuca Roseta "Triste sina"

Cuca Roseta "Triste sina" (Sad fate)

Portuguese guitar: Ângelo Freire

This song is one of many associated with the late Amália Rodrigues, and has had many modern interpreters. Here Cuca Roseta sticks fairly closely to a classic simple, almost stark, Fado form. Unpretentious but spellbinding.

Mísia "Tive um curação, perdi-o"

Mísia "Tive um curação, perdi-o" (I had a heart, but I lost it)

Portuguese guitar: Luís Guerreiro

This isn't entirely typical of Lisbon Fado, but it is representative of Mísia, who as a performer is never under-dramatic! The song is again from the repertoire of Fado legend Amália Rodrigues, who wrote the words.

After the revolution in 1974–1975, and the opening up of Portugal to modern western music and culture after the censorship of the dictatorship, Fado fell out of fashion. Mísia has played a key role as a bridge between Amália and the Fado stars of today, convincing record companies Fado could still have a market and popularising it around the world.

Mariza "Medo"

Mariza "Medo" (Fear)

Portuguese guitar: Luís Guerreiro (plus an entire orchestra - which usually gets in the way with Fado but in this

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