This post is basically a follow up of what I´ve written in SONG PART 8. I proposed to show you a bit of the Portuguese musical culture in general. Not of what is being done today in Portugal musically speaking but some of our most traditional and peculiar forms of singing. Generally speaking and since I´m trying to explain this to folks that live in other countries I must once again specify that what I am showing you isn´t what everyone is listening and singing in Portugal in our days. It´s more of a small cultural voyage, like some sort of tourist tour trough some of our most peculiar and traditional ways of life , “that are currently disappearing”. I´ve given you in the other posts of Song a rough idea of what Fado song is because whenever the name of Portugal arises in some conversation in some other country the name Fado seems to pop up like magic. So now i´m going to show you two different parts of Portugal, and with it two other different Portuguese music styles. For that I will divide this post into two different parts. I will start with the SOUTH and later on the NORTH. Because Portugal musically speaking is a sort of microcosms that had a lot of different influences from a lot of different places over the years.
The South - The music style that is most characteristic in the South of Portugal is the Alentejo singing (PT: CANTAR ALENTEJANO). This sort of is characteristic from Alentejo and the singing, is made from a large group of men (rarely women),that join voices in a choir , and the song themes lyrics are usually "WORK RELATED". But not just that; they also speak about the beauty of the land or about somethings so peculiar like the way a little bird sings. This sort of singing is usually slow and it paces a slow rhythm. There are usually no musical instruments joining the group (It would be silly to call it a band).
It´s origins are like Fado, difficult to track down it´s origins since there were many influences from the past in Portugal from the Roman Empire and the Muslim occupation. Especially the South of Portugal that was occupied for many centuries by the Moors. And these left a lot of their Culture behind that blended in with the region. One thing is sure, the Alentejo singing derives from the people that worked the lands, usually the poor people that worked for the rich land owners and the workers from the mines. That´s also the origin of that slow sound, That sounds like something of a THUMP...pause,THUMP...pause,THUMP...pause; rhythm. If you pay attention you´ll see that this is the same rhythm used in hard labour, like cutting down a tree with an ax,or digging the soil with a shovel. Currently, like in the past the men still join in the local taverns to drink an sing.
IN my next post of song we are going to take a little trip to the North of Portugal.