Playing the Lisbon Portuguese Guitarra by
Ronald Louis Fernandez (continued)
This piece is from part
1, page 13 of João
Victoria's Metódo de Guitarra which was published around 1920. It is called Fado Corrido Menor which is the same
song form as the Fado Menor, these are just 2 names for the same
The 8-note fado arpeggio which starts the piece
is similar to the one used in the Fado Corrido in Section
12a. Like the Fado Corrido, this piece also starts before
the down beat which starts with the low D in the first full
measure. It is important for the musicians and singers to
realize that the musical phrases of traditional fados often
begin before the strong downbeat.
The low E which begins in the second complete
measure is played with the thumb of the left hand. Essentially
the left hand thumb reaches over the fingerboard. This left hand
use of the thumb is very typical for players of the Lisbon
I have transposed this piece from F minor (4
flats) to D minor (1 flat). The original version was written for
guitarras which were tuned to the old fado tuning which was
FCDGCD (6th to 1st course). With such tuning it was easy to play
F minor and C7 chords.
There were a number of different tuning systems
into the 20th century. In 1929, the modern fado tuning (DABEAB)
was used in method books by Manoel Gomez and Salgado do Carmo.
So, it appears to me that the modern tuning was being solidly
established about that time.
This piece and the Fado Corrido in Section 12a
were accompanied with a simple 2 chord harmony. The chords were
simply the tonic and the dominant. For my version in D minor,
the chords are just D minor and A major (or A7). In the original
version, which was in F minor, we can see the chords displayed
in the upper left and upper right hand corners, F minor and C7.
What is interesting is that these diagrams show the chords as
First Position (1a Posição) and Second Position (2a Posição).
For musicians in the fado world these positions correspond to
tonic and dominant which can make for confusion because in
traditional music theory, these are the "I" (one) and "V" (five)
chords. In part 2 and 3 of the Metódo de Guitarra charts are
given which identify the 3rd Position (3a Posição) as the
subdominant chord, which is the "IV" (four) chord in standard
Careful study of the original sheet music will
reveal the placement of "1a" and "2a" above the staff to
indicate the chord harmony. This is pretty simple harmony. In
the original sheet music we can see that measure 25 and 29 are
supposed to have tonic chord (1a position) for the harmony. This
would mean that the the first note of the Portuguese guitar
would be a low C while the Spanish Guitar would be playing a D
(i.e., the low note of the 1a position chord). To put a C
against a D would produce a pretty dissonant sound.
Consequently, I have changed the 1a position chord to other
partial chords which make the melody and harmony fit more