Fado’s Portuguese Guitarra duets with modern strings

Alex de Borba

Alex de Borba

One promptly matures aware that I am a spirited Portuguese, old-fashioned and passionate about his culture, solemn and eloquently into the historical milieu when acknowledging me personally. Often, I bear a Portuguese flag dangling on my belt as an honourable display of my nationality in an endeavour to be approached by another fellow Portuguese when travelling or living outward my motherland, Lusitania.

As with many of us, Fado is part of who we are, a folklorish symbol of Portugal usually engulfed in melancholy and alluring melodies strung in dominance by the Portuguese Guitarra that echoes as a vocation to our essence, as Portuguese countrymen.

The Portuguese Guitarra is a traditional instrument with twelve steel strings, in truth, one of the few instruments that furthermore makes use of the Preston tuners and it is profoundly connected with the unique musical genre called Fado.

Fado, which can be drawn back to the earlier 1820s, even thus its origins have often been debated, implying that Fado had surfaced at a much-preceding stage, which is still very doubtful.

Though the origins of Fado are hitherto tough to trace with conviction, the musical genre survived unimpaired during the centuries while conserving its traditional structure. The grieved, forlorn strains present on its lyricism, very often rendering the fishermen’s harsh life and the darker side of poverty inspired by the emotional edge of aloneness, obscurity and melancholic thoughts that befall in rain slithered down the windows, encourage sidle melancholia with all its fatefulness. “Saudade” is a commonly used Portuguese word that seized the feeling of sacrifice, or “longing”, irreparable in lifelong dramaticism.

Fado’s gloomy and heartbroken rhythmic heritage indulges us to associate it with the urban and maritime livelihood. It has inspired across the earth other musical genres such as Morna from Cape Verde, Brazilian Modinha and Indonesian Kroncong, that historically emerged genuinely associated to Fado to then afterwards unfold into their own interpretations as well as rooted traditions.

Fado can be interpreted as an eclipsed yet exquisite harmony among emotions and sceneries, in which often the tragedy is served as a play. Eloquently brought into a mindset as walking throughout the hidden corners of Portugal with a curtain of melodrama, envisioning the loss of beloved ones from personal, historical contours or the custodian yet, carnivalesque ambiences that encompass the sovereignty of Portuguese harbours and routes.

It is open to interpretation, depending on how you resemble at the notion that carefully lay on its traditions, Fado may transpire a feeling of dismay or joy as foreplay to own lunacies, yet remain intriguing and compelling once heard.

In which respects to the Portuguese Guitarra, even thus through the centuries it has undergone some technical adjustments mostly concerning its dimensions and tuning mechanics, it stills retains the same number of courses, the string tuning and the finger technique which is traditionally characteristic of this type of instrument.

Its origins date the minstrel circles and the Renaissance period, although initially, such use of the instrument was restricted to the noblemen. Later, it was adopted by the people due to its booming popularity, and have also been unearthed as part of the citterns while been played as background surroundings to theatre dramas, in taverns and barbershops during the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

Nowadays, an instrument once held by the elderly in all its glory due to its hard play has moderately shifted and therefore, been fostered by a few youths while performed on other divergent musical genres, such as modern, alternative metal for instance.

During my night shift, I came across Wallace Oliveira’s single, titled ‘Évora’, much due to the yell to attention from a fellow Portuguese that incessantly pinpointed me to a Facebook video affirming that it would “amaze” me. And assuredly, it did.

At the first strings of ‘Évora’, and the audible tone of the Portuguese Guitarra, my attention was grasped as I heard, and overheard ‘Évora’ numerous times since then.

Nevertheless, I must disagree when my press colleagues alleged that Portuguese Guitarra was just now introduced to the world of heavy metal, as in various occasions, Portuguese acts included such instrument into their compositions on a successful practice as well.

However, the Brazilian composer Wallace Oliveira orchestrated an unusual and skillful song while mingling an alternative metal genre, progressive I concur, as the backbone core to its formula, even thus serving as a duet amid the traditional and the modern strings other than luxuriating the instrument on a metal cover like it has been done before.

Accompanied by Andre Casagrande on electric guitar, Wallace Oliveira’s ‘Évora’ is a single that enchants the listener and captures the Portuguese essence in an incredibly eloquent manner, appealing to both metal and classical, traditional Fado aficionados while entwining them into a sound that is heartfelt and experimental, although the nightingale between old and new trends is magnificently layered in tones of melodic harmony, and incessant vitality.

‘Évora’ is one of those songs that enshadows the mind in a stunning landscape, addicting and migratory, it wills the listener to hearken to it over and over again and questioning what the future would bring.

If you are expecting to listen to something wholly different, this single comes highly advised, with a freakish Portuguese twist that definitely gave me “saudades” of Portugal.

To sum; ‘Évora’ is nearly reaching the 100,000 views over Facebook and the video has been published on YouTube on March 3rd, 2016, according to the chat I had earlier with Wallace Oliveira.

Personally speaking, ‘Évora’ left me at some point speechless, and I am certainly waiting to hear more singles coming from Wallace Oliveira shortly.

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