The Fado of Coimbra bears a close instrumental resemblance to the Fado that is sung in Lisbon. Its lyrics, however, have become more erudite and it displays a different spatial quality, with a different kind of vocal effect. The Fado of Coimbra was developed by university students who arrived in the city from Lisbon and Porto, bringing with them their guitars and a different way of singing. They found Fado the ideal vehicle for preserving the memories of student life, singing about unrequited love and nights spent without sleep, or serenading their sweethearts from under the window.
In fact, it is only the males in the student population who sing Fado, dressed in their traditional academic costume of black suits and thick gowns.
The best time for listening to them is Queima das Fitas, the traditional festival held in May to mark the end of the academic year. The Noite da Serenata, when serenades are sung outside the entrance to the city’s old cathedral, is also a moment of great local emotion.
But for some Coimbra students, Fado is not just for days of youth. Adriano Correia de Oliveira and José Afonso both became famous singers, while Artur Paredes and Carlos Paredes became well-known guitarists.