Sopa de Pedra: Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia

Leave No Stone Unsung

Listening Post 194. In the folk tale, a hungry traveler stops in a village and asks for food. Rebuffed, he fills a pot with water from a stream, puts a stone in it and places it over a fire. Villagers intrigued by the idea of “Stone Soup”—delicious, the clever traveler insists—surround him and eventually offer ingredients (carrots, onions, seasoning) and share the meal. Like the story that inspired their name, the women of Sopa de Pedra start simple (instead of a stone, words and notes on paper), then stir in their 10 voices to ultimately nourish the soul. They perform traditional Portuguese regional songs and also give folk treatment to works by contemporary composers. They sing a cappella, adding a pinch of percussion, and on their first album, Ao Longe Já Se Ouvia (From Afar You Can Already Hear It), their themes are work and beauty, danger and survival, childbirth and the perils of love, their timeless stories and gorgeous layers of harmony soothing the fatigue of a wired world. They extol nature’s largess in Ó Minha Amora Madura (Oh, My Ripe Blackberry, video 1), and honor the labor of textile workers in the onomatopoetic Bate, Bate (Clack, Clack), echoing the sound of a loom (video 2). In Os Bravos (Into the Wild), a woman explores a rough land and she changes—but not in the way she expects (video 3). Hardship proves unendurable in Adeus Ó Serra da Lapa (Goodbye, Serra da Lapa, video 4), which ends on a note of sharing. Women’s life experience is Sopa de Pedra’s constant thread and the group is more than a community—members include two sisters, a trio of cousins, and most are former classmates who drifted apart but, by all appearances, heard one another from afar and reunited to sing their heartwarming songs. (Turbina)

Sopa de Pedra, the group: Benedita Vasquez, Inês Campos, Inês Loubet, Inês Melo, Maria Vasquez, Mariana Gil, Rita Costa, Rita Sá, Sara Yasmine, Teresa Campos

Note: Versions of the Stone Soup story stretch across Europe and as far as China and Native American culture. In varied accounts the traveling figure is a young man, a pilgrim, a tramp or a band of soldiers. In some, the broth starts with a button, nail or axe rather than a stone. Common to all versions are the element of deception and the moral of sharing. The Portuguese folk tale features a traveling monk and is situated in the town of Almeirim—today home to a popular regional dish called sopa de pedra.

 

Ó Minha Amora Madura/Oh, My Ripe Blackberry
Traditional Alentejo song
(from the Portuguese lyrics)
Oh, my ripe blackberry/Tell me, who ripened you?
Oh, my ripe blackberry/Tell me, who ripened you?
“It was the sun and the frost/And the warmth I received”
“It was the sun and the frost/And the warmth I received”

 

Bate, Bate/Clack, Clack
Lyrics and music: Amélia Muge
Clack, clack goes my loom/Your time has come
And with or without a weaver/Your clacking will not stop

My web is ready/Waiting for you to strike
Clack, clack my loom/Strike and I will respond

There, clack, clack/My loom clack, clack, clack
Don’t falter, beat like this/For me, for you, without end
Clack, clack

Clack, clack my loom/Keep it up, don’t stop
Weave a plot of complaint/Say what you have to say

And so much beats the loom/Just like my heart
One feels when it beats/The other beats when it feels

Clack, clack my loom/Give it your best punch
Because the weaver is dead/And I know nothing about you.

Clack, clack my loom/Just like my heart
One feels when it beats/The other beats when it feel

 

Os Bravos/Into the Wild
Traditional song from the Azores
I went to the land of the wild/to see if it would make me wild
I felt more gentle/Thinking of your company

I went to the land of the wild/in my red dress
The most dangerous thing I saw/Truly wild, my love
Was a cuddly bunny.

The sea waves are white/and in the middle yellow
I wish I could be a mermaid/and live among them

I went to the land of the wild/to see if it would change me
I wished well to those who would harm me/I wished well to those who do not want me

I went to the land of the wild

 

Adeus Ó Serra da Lapa/Goodbye, Serra da Lapa
Lyrics and music: José Afonso
Goodbye, Serra da Lapa/Goodbye, I’m leaving you
O my land, my labor, my spade/I have no wish to return

Traveling companions, come with me/The nights are dark and life is hard
I have no wish to return

I give my embroidered scarf/As a parting gift
I want to go to the other side/I have no wish to return

My money is little/To share with whoever goes with me
My path is plotted/I have no wish to return

Lament the insecure land/Escape the mountains and the sea
My travel companions/I will do everything to be free

 


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