Labour Day, Portuguese work songs and a man from Corsica

This post is going to be a bit nerdy but if you really feel the love for Portugal, and not just a touristic flirt, I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy it too (how modest of me, I know!).

Today, being Labour Day, I’d like to highlight the work of Michel Giacometti. Although he was born in Corsica, he came to live in Portugal in 1959, after having developed an interest in traditional Portuguese music, thanks to the archives of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. His work was of vital importance in collecting and registering Portuguese traditions in terms music, dance and oral literature, which would have otherwise been lost – maybe forever. For obvious reasons I’ll be focusing on his recordings of Portuguese work songs.

The videos bellow were part of a TV show which aired between 1971 and 1974 (compare with today’s TV shows) and allow us to have a glimpse into the world of work in different parts of the country in the early 1970’s. It’s interesting, I believe, to notice the different kinds of work he registered, in different parts of the country. Make sure you don’t miss the last video.


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      • They share such a mutual particularity and spirit. The way they they deal with the hardship and what must be borne in life in a beautiful way which transforms suffering into beauty. Just listen to the way the foreman eases the men’s workload and draws them into rhythm with his vocals. And that gorgeous singing of the women spinning wool: it is so complex and filled with fine variations just like fado. You are right about the last one, the water wheel. How lonely her task, and demanding constant vigil and muscle steadiness to not slip on the wet surface. She carries her sould through it with singing. I suppose the main difference is that the fado is more individualized and has been raised up artistically. But I see the roots of the one within the other.

        I love Portugal and am happy you produce this website with heart. 🙂 Cheers.

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