Playing the Lisbon Portuguese Guitarra by Ronald Louis Fernandez (continued)


Section 12b. Fado Corrido Menor by João Victoria--in Método de Guitarra





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 thing.

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 Guitarra.

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 theory.

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 smoothly.