The emotional folk music of the Portuguese, Fado's existence dates back at least as far as 1829. By this time, the Portuguese culture contained a substantial African and mixed race (primarily Brazilian) population, most of them lower-class laborers centered in the Alfama area of Lisbon. Their dances, called the fofa and the lundum -- a lewd song and dance exchange -- heavily influenced the development of the fado, as did the rich Portuguese history of poetry and literature, with the folk culture of quatrains (rhyming couplets) and the modhina (ballad tradition) recognized as the cathartic music's lyrical origins. While the first fado recordings date back to 1910, the music truly flowered during the 1920s and '30s, when a series of landmark records documenting the fado de Coimbra style -- a tightly rehearsed, highly stylized, and far less cathartic form -- was released. Despite their differences, both strains of the fado are defined by their feeling of "saudade," a Portuguese term best translating into English as a genuine and intense yearning. Amalia Rodrigues is undoubtedly the most important figure in fado.
Other Styles in Western European Traditions