Fado at Coimbra

Just spent a couple of days in the university city of Coimbra, roughly in the centre of the country. Last time I came through here, all manner of serendipitous matters occurred – good cafe conversations, a play, a Brazilian comedic-poet, and a one-off event of a fado gathering of alumni from the University who’d gone out on the international circuit and returned home for the one day that year. Hence I’d had a chance at last to hear some real fado, rather than the ghastly tourist-junk we’d had the misfortune to hear at the TOGAF conference in Lisbon back then.

(If you don’t know of it, fado is a specific Portuguese musical style, with either a tenor – as in Coimbra – or an alto – as in Lisbon – as the singer, accompanied by one player on the guitarre – actually a kind of twelve-string mandola – for the counter-melody, and another on the viola – which confusingly is what anyone else would call a guitar – providing the bass. Like the original blues songs, fado is [almost?] always about loss, in Lisbon about the loss of a lover, in Coimbra about loss of connection to place: no doubt Dave Snowden would be happy to hear that in Welsh terms this would be hiraedd about cynefin. 🙂 )

Coimbra did it for me again. Happened to notice a reference to a fado place called A Capella (apologies, don’t have the URL), a re-used chapel up on the north wall of the old town. Started off as kind of upmarket fado-for-tourists, but as the evening moved into night, I was just about the only tourist left, whilst the rest of the place was packed with Portuguese, many of them clearly friends of the musicians – in fact a couple of them joined in as soloists or accompanists – and one of the final pieces was just stunning as pretty much the entire audience joined in for the chorus, as a full-on choir. The only catch was that, like way too many Portuguese events, it didn’t even start till 10pm – well after pretty much everything in Britain or Australia would finish – and finally wound to a close somewhat after 2am, or about four hours after I’m usually in bed. Hence kinda wrecked this morning, especially as I had to check out in a hurry. Worth it, though: very recommended.

(Will post a photo or two when I get at a wi-fi – this is in an internet-cafe in Obidos, of which more in the next post.)

Okay, fado is an odd musical taste to acquire, but feels like one that’s worth doing so. 🙂

And just as I was leaving, a young woman busking on the main drag, playing a button-accordion with some really good Breton tunes – one of which I knew, and really must learn. Oh dear, I hear the infection / infatuation of another musical-instrument coming on… Breton tunes really work on the accordion… 🙂

Coming somewhat out of my glumph from the ‘Dispirited’ post: apologies for inflicting it on y’all and that, but I is who is, y’see… :wrygrin:

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