The Voice of the Portuguese Soul: Media Representations of Amália Rodrigues ́s Voice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Amália Rodrigues is a well-known fado singer and one of the most notorious and international Portuguese artists. She was also an influential figure in Portuguese society and culture, especially during the second half of the 20th century. Amália Rodrigue ́s voice index a set of subjective concepts, such as ‘Portuguese identity’, ‘soul of a nation’, ‘saudade’, ‘nostalgia’, ‘pain’, ‘loss’, among others, constantly reframed throughout her career. However, it is in the early years of Amália Rodrigue’s musical practice as a professional fado singer, before her voice was recorded, that these associations crystallized, largely through the written press. In this article I argue that media discourse - either through advertisements of her performances or through opinion articles that circulated in the Portuguese and foreign press about the voice of Amália Rodrigues, between 1939 and 1945 - built an idea of voice and its meanings that seems to have remained until today. I will also try to relate, critically, the narratives about Amália’s voice with the physical voice of the artist, through the analysis of the first known recordings (1945). My goal is to understand which characteristics in her vocal style contributed to the selection and instrumentalization of Amália’s voice as a sonic referent of ‘Portuguese identity’.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020
EventThe Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting -
Duration: 22 Oct 202031 Oct 2020
Conference number: 65


ConferenceThe Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleSEM Annual Meeting


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