Due to its complex history, Lisbon has an incredibly diverse and rich music scene. With everything, from the traditional genres of Fado, to the electronic impact of it past African connections being felt across its bars, theatres and clubs, Lisbon is a musical hub. Here’s a low down to Lisbon and it’s music- past and present.
Fado dates back as far as the 1820’s and is one of the most iconic music genres of Lisbon. Accompanied by the distinctive portuguese guitar (or Fado guitar) these songs are often melancholy in tone, focusing on ideas of poverty, the struggles of the working class or nostalgic longing. Despite it’s long history, Fado is still popular today and you’ll be able to find it being performed in many small bars and cafes across the city.
Lisbon is an incredible diverse city, and is often the home for people who emigrate from some of Portugal’s ex-colonies. This includes Angolans who brought the distinctive beats of Kuduro music to the city, where it became a huge influence on much cutting edge dance music. Artists such as Buraka Som Sistema are famous for mashing up kuduro and techno to create incredible rhythmic tunes.
Lisbon’s many independent music venues and record stores also make it thriving culture for indie bands. However, many of these bands tend to write lyrics in english and draw their inspirations from more international influences.
Pimba takes it name from the 1995 track pimba pimba by Emanuel. It’s Portugal’s take on commercial or party pop. Mixing traditional sounds with accordions, or latin beats, the lyrics tend to be simple and humorous. The term pimba can often be used as an insult to mark music as “cheesy” or inane but it still soundtracks much of Lisbon’s party scene and events like the June street celebrations for St Anthony.
Novo Fado (or new fado) is a wave of modern female artists, re-interpreting and recreating the traditional genre. Sometimes they record versions of traditional songs, but also sometimes even writing their own fados, experimenting with different instruments and ultimately inverting the more traditional stereotypes of victim women.
Kuduro is not the only genre to have emerged from the relationship between the African continent and Portugal based in Lisbon. There is plenty of influence and you can find music all over the city, which draws on kuduro, batida, kizomba, funaná, Afro-house and tarraxinha, genres found in the former Portuguese colonies of Angola, Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe.