You have heard of the Fado of Lisbon, but have you ever hear do the Fado of the students? Of the Fado of Coimbra?. It has the same emotional base, but with a different motivation. Coimbra is about 2 hours north of Lisbon, clustered over the River Mondego, and home to the oldest university in Portugal. As a great university (1288) students came from Lisbon and Porto and brought their guitars. Over a century and a half ago, a new style of Fado was born. They sang to impress a young women, than they sang their anguish for not succeeding in impressing a young woman. And they sang of Coimbra, a city they came to love.
Today the Fado de Coimbra is exclusively performed by male students in academic attire: flowing black cape. It is sung at night, almost in the dark, in squares or streets of the city. The most typical place is in the square next to the Old Cathedral, where serenades are held – a Fado festival.
The Fado of Coimbra is also accompanied by a Portuguese guitar and a classical guitar (also called "a viola"). However, the tuning and the sound of the Portuguese guitar are, in Coimbra, different than in Lisbon. So the sound is unique to Coimbra. For centuries in Coimbra, it has been customary for students to wear a thick, black cape, for with it on all students are equal.
The Coimbra Fado has had a rebirth in recent years, with more and more students singing, and several clubs opening for the public to come and appreciate this classic song. A Capella is housed in a former Renaissance chapel, and offers night performances. http://www.acapella.com.pt/index_eng.html
Fado ao Centro offers a short program every afternoon, with an explanation in English. http://www.fadoaocentro.com/en
Come to Coimbra, and enjoy the charm of this rare and haunting song.