- Melody / Hooks
The art of the Portuguese Fado guitar
Custodio Castelo is a master of the Guitarra Portuguesa – Portuguese Guitar – a twelve stringed, six course instrument – notable for it’s unique “watch key” tuners. Backed here primarily by a bass guitar and a classical nylon 6 string, Castelo’s virtuosity shines through 16 brilliant instrumental and contemporary, colourful and bright Fado interpretations.
Fado is a Portugese style of music from the early 19th Century with Afro brazilian slave dance influences and whilst traditionally preoccupied with themes of longing and mournful “suadade” – here most perfectly captured on the achingly bitter sweet “Prece”, when the musicians are joined by the voice of Christina Maria, these recordings are rich, emotional, and rhythmically bouyant.
The guitarra has a sound reminiscent of a bouzouki / mandolin, the “chorus” of a twelve string acoustic guitar with a very mild drone from the sympathetic strings – altogether unusual resonant frequencies and timbric range. It is a beautiful instrument to listen to especially when combined with a traditional Spanish classical guitar. The Fado picking method, “dedilho” utilises only the thumb and index fingers contributing further character to the unique Fado sound.
The Verdict – Good, bad or just ugly?
European melodic feel and arrangements together with the harmonious sound and acoustic beat of the guitars create an evocative and unique sense. Yet despite it’s distinct character and passionate personality, moments in these recordings may conjure a multitude of musical memories, as diverse as John Dowland, Siegfried Behrend, or Nick Drake. This is an exceptional music, recorded by exceptional musicians and each piece a richly evocative musical narrative, exuberant and illuminating.
Guitarra Resources Online
English speaking Guitarra afficionado Ron Fernandez is available to offer his advice and expertise here at www.fernandezmusic.com. Fernandez Music also offer Spanish and Flamenco guitars and Latin fretted instruments such as bandurrias, cavaquinhos, charangos, cuatros, laudes, tres cubanos and requintos.
Ron Fernandez has years of experince and specialises in custom guitar setups. He also offers a selection of fine songbooks, tuners, ukuleles, french polish, and guitar making DVD’s .
If you want to begin playing the Lisbon Guitarra Fernandez music also have a free lesson on their website.