Our Portuguese music playlist


What gives national music its distinct character?  The great Leonard Bernstein answered this question in one of his Young People’s Concerts:

“[…] folk songs reflect the rhythms and accents and speeds of the way a particular people talks: in other words, their language — especially the language of their poetry — sort of grows into musical sounds. And those speaking rhythms and accents finally pass from folk-music into what we call the art-music, or opera or concert-music of a particular people; and that is what makes Tchaikovsky sound Russian or what makes Verdi sound Italian, or what makes Gershwin sound American.”

Portuguese is a language with closed vowels and shh sounds that can come across as Slavic. Our theory is that these traits emerged over time as a defense strategy against Spanish invasions. When the Spaniards, used to the open vowels and crisp enunciation inherited from the Latin, came to Portugal, they couldn’t understand the local language. As a result, they went back to Spain and left us alone since 1640.

If you’re traveling in Portugal, we invite you to use our Spotify playlist of local music as your soundtrack:


It is an eclectic list that includes classic fados from the great Amália Rodrigues but also the work of a wonderful new generation of fado singers that includes Ana Moura, Carminho, and Mariza. It features folk-inspired music by Trovante and instrumental music ranging from an elegant sonata by the 18th-century composer Carlos Seixas to a joyous rendition of dance music on accordion.

We hope this music, infused with the rhythms and accents of the Portuguese language, will enrich your journey through Portugal.

9 thoughts on “Our Portuguese music playlist

  1. A brilliant post and a very interesting theory! So, we scared the Spanish by hissing at them…ahahahah! Love it. I love your music list, may I just add Brigada Vitor Jara? ‘Laço dos Oficios’ and ‘Alvissaras’.

  2. Great theory on how we scared off the Spanish. Hadn’t heard that one before, love it! Thanks for the music list. I don’t use my Portuguese too often, but when I do people are bamboozled by what it sounds like. I can speak a few languages and do believe it sounds Slavic. Why? We’re just unique that’s all, ha ha.

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