A Portuguese Soul (Fado for string quartet)

In Austin, given the contact with the School of music I developed several experiences in the composition level while also studying the rules of the instrumental music associated with fado.
Original pieces were produced and premiered by students in recitals to large audiences. In
November 2011, Ms. Patty Ho Lee, presented “The Portuguese Way” a fado for piano solo, and on the 2nd April 2012, “A Portuguese Soul”, a fado arranged for String Quartet was premiered by Irene Jea, Sai Gourisankar, Doug Ilijev and Russel Podgorsek. In it I try to mimic the four layers that usually compose a fado próprio, with two contrasting sections and a coda: the vocal line and its gestures and ornamentations are played by a lead string player; the Portuguese guitar counter-melodies and the classical guitar basic harmonies are played by the violin and the viola and the colorful bass line by the cello.

These compositions not only were a kind of cultural mark left on American soil but also nifty experiments on my part to better understand how the rules and intuitions I have about instrumental music based on fado work out when applied in a real context to sound credible.

One should always bear in mind that fado is a folksong, a performance practice and not a classical traditional piece inside the sphere of concert rituals. I tried to produce a very light-hearted piece, with plenty of room for improvisation and freedom to go out-of-tune and tempo and communicated that to the players. Don’t expect a “follow-the-score” performance, instead, portrait a group of people on a tavern just having fun and expressive behaviour.

You can find the musical score here.


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