Fado, urban popular song of Portugal
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Fado, urban popular song of Portugal
- © Argentina Santos 2009 by Luis Carvalhal
Fado is a performance genre incorporating music and poetry widely practised by various communities in Lisbon. It represents a Portuguese multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian sung dances, local traditional genres of song and dance, musical traditions from rural areas of the country brought by successive waves of internal immigration, and the cosmopolitan urban song patterns of the early nineteenth century. Fado songs are usually performed by a solo singer, male or female, traditionally accompanied by a wire-strung acoustic guitar and the Portuguese guitarra – a pear-shaped cittern with twelve wire strings, unique to Portugal, which also has an extensive solo repertoire. The past few decades have witnessed this instrumental accompaniment expanded to two Portuguese guitars, a guitar and a bass guitar. Fado is performed professionally on the concert circuit and in small ‘Fado houses’, and by amateurs in numerous grass-root associations located throughout older neighbourhoods of Lisbon. Informal tuition by older, respected exponents takes place in traditional performance spaces and often over successive generations within the same families. The dissemination of Fado through emigration and the world music circuit has reinforced its image as a symbol of Portuguese identity, leading to a process of cross-cultural exchange involving other musical traditions.
Decision 6.COM 13.39
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: A musical and lyrical expression of great versatility, Fado strengthens the feeling of belonging and identity within the community of Lisbon, and its leading practitioners continue to transmit the repertory and practices to younger performers;
- R.2: Inscription of Fado on the Representative List could contribute to further interaction with other musical genres, both at the national and international levels, thus ensuring visibility and awareness of the intangible cultural heritage and encouraging intercultural dialogue;
- R.3: Safeguarding measures reflect the combined efforts and commitment of the bearers, local communities, the Museum of Fado, the Ministry of Culture, as well as other local and national authorities and aim at long-term safeguarding through educational programmes, research, publications, performances, seminars and workshops;
- R.4: Fado musicians, singers, poets, historians, luthiers, collectors, researchers, the Museum of Fado and other institutions participated in the nomination process, and their free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;
- R.5: Fado is included in the catalogue of the Museu do Fado which was expanded in 2005 into a general inventory including also the collections of a wide range of public and private museums and archives.
Inscribes Fado, urban popular song of Portugal on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© RTP, 2008
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