The Singing Brigades


Once upon a time, in a troubled western land, there was a kingdom called Portugal.

It was a place of great legends, ancient histories, endless debt. The king and his ministers had taken too much liberty with the kingdom's wealth, they had signed too many secret agreements, invited into the lives of their people way too much foreign influence. The good peasants and tradesmen of Portugal, though renowned for a warm heart and a kind spirit, began to grow weary of the hardships imposed on them by the ruling elite.

This was not the first time that the Portuguese had endured the tyranny of evil men. In days of old, the terrible weight of poverty and silence had crushed countless lives and forever tarnished the souls of those who survived. Still, the kingdom had seen the light of a new day. When that ancient revolution came, the good people of Portugal had come together and had fought for a brighter future, united through common dreams and actions. They did so in a coordinated fashion, through the use of secret languages, complex codes, hidden meanings in books and songs. Those songs became a symbol for the hopes of the kingdom and since then had been passed on to every generation as a timeless wake-up call against oppression.

And so it was that when the new king and his ministers were shown to be just another breed of greedy tyrants, the peasants started singing again. They sang, like desperate sailors lost in a storm, like those in the dark who summon a wandering and protective spirit, or those who sing to announce the beginning of the day's work. They brought out the old songbook like their lives depended on it - which, given the situation, was terribly and unfortunately true.

But the king was not alone. His court was vast, his ministries were plenty, and his servants were loyal and cunning. Soon, special militias were formed and sent out among the people with a songbook of their own, a wicked medley of evil and twisted melodies that would strike fear and disenchantment among the masses. These were not hopeful songs, these were empty and cowardly vessels waiting to be filled with the tears and wails of the oppressed.

For a long time, the king's envoys disturbed the night, interrupting conversations and debates with their dreadful voices. The people were sad and bored. Until one day, unannounced, a group of brave young women and men decided to fight back. It was like a whisper at first, a slow rehearsal of a couple of pop hits that were sure to revitalize the crowd. They were few, gathering in secret under the moonlight to sing these new revolutionary anthems, plotting to overthrow the king's reign of terror and austerity, and then they were many, scattered throughout the land, autonomous cells linked only by the strength of their voices, the choice of their lyrics, and the key of their melodies.

The Singing Brigades became legendary for their courage and their strategy. The streets became a dancing battleground, opposing songs clashing until dawn, the loudest and catchiest tunes winning the hearts and minds of the people. Both the evil songbook and the old revolutionary chants were soon forgotten, replaced by a new age of lyrical prowess, collective performance, and joyous struggle.

Political history would never be the same again.