Lisbon, Portugal- Monday, November 14, 2016. Cordeone takes his music to Lisbon, where he plays the Portuguese guitar with some of the best Fadistas the country has to offer.
The beginning of fall has taken Cordeone and his instruments away from his base in France to neighboring Portugal for a month and a half of music in some of the best Fado Houses the country has to offer.
The instruments in question, the Portuguese guitar, and of course the accordion, have been his faithful companions as he’s taken to Lisbon to hone his craft as a guitarist and a Fadista.
Fado is Portugal’s trophy child and musical contribution to the world. A style governed by specific guidelines to ensure the preservation of the culture that brought it to life, Fado is a lament and celebration of love, a people and music. Poignant poetry employed as lyrics adorn the melodious cries of the Portuguese guitar, the entirety leveled by the consistent mellow strum of the viola (classic guitar).
Silence reigns as the Fadistas, the crowned singers of this distinct style, take spectators on a vocal journey of lows, highs, whispers and full out belts. Patrons know to set their silverware and glasses down in order to give their full attention to the musicians, a small sacrifice well worth the artistic reward.
It is in such settings that Cordeone has been able to play alongside some of the best Fadistas and guitarists, including Ricardo Robeiro and Rogerio Ferreira.
Cordeone is currently on of two musicians in France to professionally play the Portuguese guitar.
Take a peek at the below interview, as we chat with the artist about his experience in Portugal and his love of Fado.
1. The Portuguese guitar is a 12-string guitar played with makeshift nails placed on the thumb and index finger. What can you tell us about the peculiarity of playing this instrument and its purpose in Fado?
It is a guitar originating from the English zither, which evolved with guitarists and luthiers (string instrument builders), and has a different tuning mechanism than that of the classical guitar. It is played by strumming back and forth between the thumb and the index finger. Its role in Fado is one of great importance because it is the Portuguese guitar that plays the responses that set Fado apart and gives the introduction of each song.
2. Your family hails from Portugal. What does Fado represent to you and what makes this music so specialty you?
Fado is a music of an entire people, a people who travels, the Portuguese people. It is a nostalgic music that speaks about the life of the Portuguese people: its sorrows, its pains, its joys. For me it's a music that makes me feel. I realize that when I play it, I have a certain duty to help it evolve, and at the same time maintain its integrity. There has been a whole generation of Fadistas, singers and musicians, who have helped this music evolve for centuries.
3. You’ve played in Luso, Senor Vinho, Adega Machado and Clube de Fado, among other Fado Houses. Which is your favorite House to play in and why?
Every House I played in held something special for me. When one is in a Fado House, what is important is to truly listen. All of the mentioned Houses are located in Lisbon, in the neighborhood of Fado, called Alfama. There is a specific quality of listening there because people are used to Fado and have great Fado etiquette. These are the biggest Houses of Fado, so in each one something interesting happened. There is not one that I prefer to the other.
4. Fado traditionally does not include the accordion as an instrument of accompaniment. Why did you decide to involve the accordion and how has it been received in the birthplace of Fado?
The accordion is my main instrument. When I started, I was playing the Portuguese guitar but not well enough to play Fado seriously. The accordion has two parts: one that serves to accompany, like the viola; and the other to create melodies, like the Portuguese guitar. I thought it would be interesting to combine the two elements in one instrument, especially since it allowed me to accompany myself while singing. It's like having a Fadista, a guitarist and a violist in one person.
In general, the accordion has been well received. People tend to be a bit unsure at first because they expect me to play in a jazzy or folkloric style. But after hearing me play, they are happily surprised to experience the Fadista within me as they find out that my styling is almost like that of the Portuguese guitar. I often get the remark that I have the “soul of a Fadista.”
5. You lead a group called the Fado Manouche Trio and play a fusion of Fado and Gypsy Jazz that you’ve conceived. Can you tell us about this project?
Yes. I wanted to sing Fado but since there was nobody in France who played neither the Portuguese guitar nor the viola, I looked for someone who could take the place of the viola. What I found was that in Gypsy Jazz, the guitar did just that. The two styles of music come from a people who travel and that is something that is felt right away. The goal is to record an album and tour various festivals in France, Portugal and elsewhere. It is also an opportunity for me to give Fado my very own personal touch.
6. What’s next for Cordeone?
There’s a Fado album coming up and there is still the Hip Hop-Reggae album, which also has a few touches of Fado to it. There are also new videos and albums in the works with various musicians from around the world.