Flamenco History

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From: Eileen Bauer <ecb@world.std.com> 
Reproduced for Dancers’ Archive with permission of the author. 
(Scanned in from the magazine: JALEO – VOLUME VIII, No . 1)


by Paco Sevilla

Author’s Introduction: This article originally appeared in Guitar and Lute magazine (Vol. 25, Nov. 1982) and was written for readers who knew nothing about flamenco. Hence gome of the explanations.

The history of flamenco has always been an imprecise subject. Until recent times, flamenco artists have not been literate people, and thus have not provided us with written records of their lives and music.  Although a broken record of the development of Spanish music does exist, the more intimate aspects of the art of flamenco were not made public until the second half of the nineteenth century. Composing a written history of flamenco has, therefore, consisted of making guesses, colleating and selecting from other people’s guesses, and then placing everything in some sort of appropriate sequence. However, research into Spanish, Arab, Greek, and Roman literature has in recent years provided new information, as has analysis of related music and in-depth study of existing cantes (flamenco song) or fragments of extinct cantes.  In this article, I bring together fairly recent research, select among different theories, and attempt to present a condensed picture of how flamenco might have arrived at its present stage of development. An understanding of the evolution of flamenco is one way to begin to understand this complex and beautiful art form; an understanding of all major elements of flamenco is essential to an understanding of the flamenco guitar, a relative newcomer to the music and, until recently, the least indispensable of its components.

It can be said that there exists nothing in Spain today that is purely Spanish; in almost every aspect of its culture, Spain has been an incredible melting pot, absorbing even today wave after wave of foreign invasion. Thus the history of flamenco will necessarily be a study of invasions and their effects on the music of the Iberian Peninsula, for flamenco was formed from the fusion of the folk music of southern Spain with the music that the gypsies created from that same musical environment. As we shall see, popular folk music influenced the development of gypsy music but also remained separate from it; inrelatively modern times, the union of the two gave us today’s flamenco.

As early as 35,000-15,000 BC, there was dance in Iberia; cave paintings in northern Spain depict dancers. In 1100 BC, the Phoenicians founded the city of Cadiz, which they called Gadir. Located on a peninsula on Spain’s Atlantic coast, Cadiz is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe and was an important center of development for Spanish music and flamenco. There the Phoenicians introduced dances similar to circle dances still performed in Spain.

By 550 BC, Greeks controlled southern Spain. Greek artwork shows dancers using arm and body positions similar to those used by Spanish dancers today, employing castanet-like instruments, and hand clapping to accompany the dance.  Many folk dances in Spain today can be traced to the Greeks.  It is also likely that they introduced the phrygian mode into Spain. (The phrygian mode, a basic element in flamenco, uses the typical “Spanish-sounding” scale; an example is the playing of the Cmajor scale from E to E, rather than from C to C.)

Spain was part of the Roman Empire from 201 BC to 406 AD. Cadiz was then called Gades and its inhabitants Gaditanos (as they still are today), while the southern part of Spain became known as Betica. Roman writings refer to the cantica gaditanae, the songs of Gades, thought by some to be possible predecessors of the jarchas and zamras (zambras) of the Arabs when they later occupied Spain. These songs were very popular in Rome, as were the women of Gades, who danced to the rhythms of crotalos (bronze castanets) and handclapping. The Romans introduced to Spain the kithera, a form of zither, which was to develop into the guitarra latina, a small guitar-like instrument with four sets of double strings.

When the Romans were threatened from the north by hordes of barbarians – Vandals and others – the Visigoths, also from the north, allied with the Romans to help repel the invasion. However, by 537 AD, the Visigoths ended up in control of most of Iberia and, under a Gothic king, Christianity became the religion of the land. Culturally, the Visigoths contributed very little.

In 711, Arabs, Syrians, and Berbers – collectively known as Moors – invaded Spain through Gibralter and, within seven years, controlled all but the very north. During almost seven centuries of occupation, the Arabic culture exercised a tremendous influence on Spain, especially in the south, which they called Al-Andaluz (the land of the vandals) and made it the cultural center of the Western world. The Moslems brought poetry, song, and musical instruments – flutes, drums and a lute-shaped instrument with three single strings that came to be called the guitarra morisca; this latter instrument, which was plucked, may have eventually inspired the conversion of the double-stringed guitarra latina to a single-stringed instrument, which happened by the 13th century. The Persian poet and musician, Ziryab, who made Córdoba an important center for music, is often credited with adding a fifth string to the guitarra latina.

The Arabs contributed sensitivity and emotionality to the music of Spain. Writings from this period tell of singers who affected their listeners so profoundly that, under the influence of tarab – the Arabic equivalent of flamenco’s duende (a state of ecstasy brought on by the singing) – they would break jars on their heads, rip their clothing, and roll about on the ground. Many songs that later became important in Spanish music and flamenco have Arabic names:  zambra, zorongo, zarabanda, and fandango. Originally zamras were groups of musicians or the gatherings at which they played; today, gypsies in Granada still call their fiestas zambras. There remain no written examples of Arabic music of this period, but certainly the music would resemble some of the music that exists today in parts of North Africa or the Middle-east; modern flamenco shares certain elements with this music.

In northern Spain, the unconquered Christians developed their own forms of music. Wandering musicians in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries sang ballads that were called cantigas. In the centuries that followed, they would become romances (ballads?) and villancicos (religious songs that are, today, sung as Christmas carols). The Christian forces never stopped fighting the Moorish invaders and gradually began to push them south. By the fifteenth century, the Moors had been conquered in all areas except Granada. Then in 1492 Granada fell and Spain was under Christian rule once more.

The fall of Granada was not the only important event of the fifteenth century; in 1447, the earliest surviving record tells us, gypsies appeared in Spain. In that year, gypsies reached Barcelona, coming from the north, and continued to enter Spain for the next several hundred years.  They had begun emigrating from northern India in the eighth or ninth centuries. These dark people were expert metal workers and had a tradition of music and dance. While it is true that these gypsies, or gitanos, were very different from the people who had originally left India, they had preserved some of their language (There are many similarities between cal?, the language of the gitanos, and the sanskrit of India.) and their tendencies in the dance, particularly the arm and hand movements and the footwork common to kathak dance of northern India. Modern flamenco most notably differs from Indian dance in flamenco’s not telling stories ??? movements used in the same schooled manner.

It is clear that the gypsies did not bring anything to Spain that resembled flamenco, for flamenco is found only in Spain, primarily in Andalucía, (the southern region of Spain); nothing similar exists among the gypsies in other parts of the world (except for southern France, where the gypsies have developed their own music based on Spanish flamenco). The gypsy found in Andalucía a land that suited him; there, he absorbed, preserved, and transformed the music of the region until it finally emerged as a unique art form – the cante and baile (dance) gitano. In Andalucía, the gypsy also found people who were similar to him: Jews and Moriscos (Moors who chose to stay in Spain after the re- conquest). The bond, or at least proximity, of these people was increased when laws were passed that resulted in severe persecution of the gypsies. Between 1449 and 1783, at least eleven major sets of laws were passed that attempted to prevent the gypsies from living their traditional lifestyle; under threat of punishment that included death, gypsies were ordered to settle down and to abandon their wandering ways, their traditional dress, their occupations, and even their language. The Moriscos were also in the process of being expelled from Spain, so the two persecuted peoples found themelves with much in common. Jewish music must have exerted some influence. There has been no definite connection made between modern flamenco and the music of the Jews, but there are distinct similarities between some Hebrew chants and certain flamenco songs.

The gypsy preserved elements of music, that might have been lost in Christian Spain. Elements of Oriental music that survived to become part of flamenco include the use of microtones, that is, tones smaller than a semitone, slides from one note to another, a tendency toward repetition of a single tone, which gives a hypnotic quality to the music, a tendency for melodies to flow within a small tonal range, rather than jump by large intervals, the use of microtonal and semitonal ornamentation to give exnressiveness? to the music, the use of a descending cadence (in conjunction with the phrygian mode), the lack of harmonization (the music tends to be melodic, not harmonic), the complex rhythms and cross-rhythms, a preference for a nasal or even harsh tone, both vocally snd instrumentally, and an emphasis on the emotional quality of music. There was also the use of verbal encouragement of performers; at some point, the Allah of the Arabs became the ole of flamenco (usually pronounced “oh- LAY” at the bullfight, but “OH-lay” in flamenco circles).  In the area of dance, we find the sinuous, sensuous movements of arms, hands, and torso and reduced importance of foot movements. Moslem tradition dictated that women should not reveal their legs, so footwork was not part of their dance. Footwork did not become an important part of the female Spanish dance until the twentieth century.

In the Spain of the Visigoths and Arabs, music tended to be religious, academic, and elitist – it was restricted to the courts of the nobility. However, its restriction from the common people began to change. During the two hundred and fifty years after the reconquest, the musical brew in Andalucía incubated and underwent transformation. The development of the music “of the people” followed two different paths, with some interchange between them paths that would continue separately until the mid-1800’s and, to a degree, into the present.

Spanish folk music continued its development with a strong Arabic influence. Dances in the sixteenth century included the chacona, the zarabanda, and the fandango; the fandango, changing name and form, eventually becam different dances in the different regions of Spain, including the jota of the northern provinces and the many variations found in the provinces of Andalucía. This music would become the fiesta music of the Andalucian people, something to be enjoyed outdoor on holidays, danced by couples and groups and performed by orchestras of stringed instruments accompanied by drums, castanets, and tambourines. At the same time, the gypsies, suffering severe persecution, were creating a more private kind of music, a music that was kept within the family circle and often had an almost sacred quality; the verses of their songs dealt with their suffering – hunger, prison, and death. The accompaniment for the song and dance was the rhythm of handclapping, fingersnapping, which the gypsy preferred to castanets, and the rapping of knuckles on table tops. Gypsy music was deeply emotional.  In contrast, the motivation for the Andalucian folk music was festive joy and communal celebration.

Apparently, the gypsies did not keep completely to themselves, for Cervantes (1547-1616), in his Novelas Ejemplares, wrote of gypsies perforing seguidillas, jacaras, romances, and zarabandas. It would, therefore, appear that gypsies were incorporating some of the Andalucian dances and performing them for non-gypsies.

Two other influences affected Andalucian music as it prepared to enter the eighteenth century: Beginning in the lSOO’s?, Spain began extensive exploration of Africa; Sevilla became one of the largest slave markets on the Iberian Peninsula. There are still black families living in Andalucía that date back to those times, and Black African music may have had some effect on Andalucian music. More certain is the role played by  the discovery of the Americas. The phenomenon was two-fold. Most ships sailed from the ports on Spain’s southern coast, from towns like Huelva, Sanlucar, Cadiz, and Malaga. Sailors came to these ports from all over Spain, bringing with them the music of their home regions. Andalucian music, ever flexible and open to outside influence, incorporated and transformed this music into new forms. The jotas of Aragán became the jotas de Cadiz (much later, the alegrías), while a dance from Galicia would eventually become the farruca. The other side of the picture became more evident in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when Spaniards returning to these same ports, brought with them music from Latin America, which then became part of the Andalucian tradition. This is another source of African influence, since Black culture played a large role in the formation of certain types of Latin music.

By 1700, the guitar had acquired a sixth string and was played in two different styles. As a plucked instrument, it had been highly developed for playing what we now call “classical” music, the music of the nobility. The popular instrument of the people was played using rasgueados (strumming with the fingers). While these instruments were an integral part of Andalucian folk music, it is generally held that they did not play much of a part in the early development of gypsy music.

Also by 1700, both Andalucian and gypsy music had acquired recognizable forms, and references to them began to appear more frequently in the literature of Spain and other countries. Although gypsy music was still very private, a ritual of the gypsy families, gypsies had become a popular theme for theatre works and wete witely mentionet. The oldest written example of flamenco is a siguiriya found in an eighteenth century Italian opera,”La Maschera Fortunata” by Neri. In 1779, Henry Swinburne wrote in Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776 that the gypsies of Cadiz danced an indecent dance called the manguidoy to the rhythm of handclapping; he also mentioned guitars, castanets, and rough voiced singing of polo. Other references speak of the taconeo (heelwork) and the seguidillas gitanas. (The seguidillas were lively songs, related to the sevillanas, not the profount gypsy cante of today that has a similar name.) By 1800, references indicate 24 dances that were supposedly performed by gypsies; most of those no longer exist, and none of them are specifically part of the gypsy dance we know today, although some survived in the non-gypsy flamenco, particularly the fandangos and the seguidillas (sevillanas).

At the turn of the century, gypsy song was well developed and certain cantaores (flamenco singers) had established reputations for their interpretations of the cante. George Borrow, an English adventurer and author, wrote about his experience with the gypsies in the early 1800’s. He mentions singing and dancing “a lo gitano” (in the gypsy manner) and was the first to write that the gypsies were called flamencos and had been for some time. The music itself, however, was not yet called flamenco. The word “flamenco” has long mystified historians who have demonstrated vivid imaginations in attempting to explain why a word that means “Flemish” or “flamingo” (the bird) should be used to describe an Andalucian music form. Some attribute the word to Arab roots, others to fact that Carlos I brought with him from Flanders (Flanders included much of what is now Belgium, the Netherlands or Holland, and Luxemburg) an entire Flemish court; in addition, Spain occupied Flanders until 1648. Other origins have been suggested: that because singers in the court were Flemish, the word came to be associated with singing; that Spaniards, especially Andalucians, like to name things by their opposites, and since the Flemish were tall and blond and the gypsies short and dark, the gypsies were called “Flemish”; that all foreigners were called flamencos and the gypsies, who were still coming into Spain, were included; that because Flemish noblemen, bored with court life, used to party with the gypsies, the name eventually transferred; and that soldiers returning from Flanders associated with gypsies in the taverns and all were called flamencos.

The problem with all of these suggestions, is that the events which lent them validity took place several hundred years before there is any record of gypsies being called flamencos. It is possible that the term remained localized in some remote area for hundreds of years and later became widespread. Until better evidence emerges, you can take your pick of explanations or make up your own.

??? language, wrote Escenas Andaluzas in 1847. This detailed description of twenty-two typical Andalucian scenes includes one calledl Un baile de Triana (A Dance in Triana), in which Calder6n? described what we would call today a fiesta flamenca: In a patio in Triana (Sevilla) were gathered a number of artists, among them some legendary figures in the history of flamenco – the singers El Planeta and El Fillo (whose raspy voice became the prototype for gypsy flamenco singing and gave us the term afilla to describe that vocal quality) and the dancers La Perla and El Jerezano. Calder6n? writes of the guitar, at first strumming softly then more strongly, of the suspiro, the singer’s warm-up using passages of “Ay, ay…,” and of a number of cantes. (The Spanish word for song in general is canto or canci6n?- cante refers specifically to flamenco song.) The cantes included cana, polo, polo tobslo, sevillanas, serranas, jaberas, rondenas, and corritas (also called romances ant derivet from the ancient ballads of northern Spain, motified by Arabic melodies, and guarded and spread through the south by the gypsies; this tradition survives only in remote areas of Andalucía, although it has been resurrected somewhat recently). Also mentioned were tonadas (little songs), a name that would later be applied in the shortened form, ton5s, to a group of profound gypsy cantes that are still sung without musical accompaniment. Names of flamenco song forms often have odd and confusing derivations. The gypsy siguiriyas are named from the Andalucian pronunciation of seguidillas, a totally unrelated song form. The solea, an important cante in flamenco, was named after a woman called Soledad who sang very well and with great profundity, some songs originally called jaleos; her version was called soledades, soleaes, soleares, and most often today, solea.

Concerning the dancing, Calderon wrote of the importance of the compas (rhythm, including meter, accentuation, and rythmic cycles), arm movements, footwork, rapid twisting and turning of the body, and the sal (spice) and gracia (humor, wit) of the performers. He names the following dances, most of which are considered to be Andalucian rather than gypsy; caa, tiranas, jaberas, malaguenas, bolero, zorongo, ole ole, la tana, granadina, la yerbabuena, las seguidillas, caleseras, and zapateado. Of special interest musically is the fact that most of the songs and dances were accompanied by an orchestra of guitars, bandolins (most likely ban- durrias, a mandolin type of instrument with double strings), and violins; this type of accompaniment is not typical of gypsy flamenco, but survives in Andalucian folk music, especially in groups called pandas de verdiales that perform the songs of the Malaga area.

Other travelers in the early 1800’s tell us that gypsy dancers did not use their feet, moving only the hips, upper torso, and arms. We also know from these sources and from song verses dating from the period that the jaleo (verbal encouragement of the performers) as we know it today was already in widespread use, including “ole,” “anda chiquillo,” and “que toma, que toma” (Spanish equivalents of “go man go!”).

The music that was accesible to the traveler in this period was almost certainly dominated by the Andalucian element rather than the gypsy. Gypsies may have performed for the public under certain circumstances, but reports do not seem to indicate that they were performing what would appear a few decades later as the highly developed cante gitano (forms like the tonas, siguiriyas, and soleares). It is important to keep in mind the differences between these two forms of music, for these subdivisions of flamenco still exist today. The gypsy cante was private, emotional and very personal; it used primarily the phrygian mode and complex rhythm patterns, and was very difficult to sing; the accompaniment was most often the rhythm of handclapping, fingersnapping, knuckle-rapping, or the tapping of a cane – even today some forms are always sung a palo seco (a capella); even when the guitar began to play a more important role in flamenco, distinct gypsy and non-gypsy styles of playing emerged. Andalucian folk music, on the other hand, was very public music, sung in the major and minor modes and using 2/4, 3/4, or 6/8 meter; it was often accompanied by groups of instruments.

In 1842, events occurred that would change the nature of flamenco and gave birth to what we now refer to as the “Golden Age of Flamenco.” Certain Andalucian taverns where flamenco was cultivated began to place more emphasis on the performance of the cante and baile (dance). The performers were usually not professionals, but performed out of afición, love of their art. On the rare occasion that a guitar was available, it might have been strummed in an improvisational manner, but the guitar had not yet emerged as an integral part of flamenco. However, there must have ben some guitarists starting to develop the flamenco style, for it would be in widespread use within a few decade.  Moreover, the Russian composer Glinka was entranced by the playing of the gypsy guitarist El Murciano in Granada, and he wrote down some of the guitarist’s compositions. In neighborhood patios, country inns, and tiny taverns, flamenco made its first public appearance and began its emergence from the private, almost religious position it had held in the gypsy families.

The earliest known caf de cante, as the first flamenco nightclub were called opened in Sevilla in 1842. For the firt time flamenco artists were paid on a regular basis?  Several more clubs opened, but then all were closed down, and it was another twenty years before the great cantsor, Silverio Franconetti, returnet from South American opened the firt cafe cant?nte in Sevilla and officially began the “Golten Age.” The interest in cante and baile flamenco must have been builting, becaue after Silverio opened his cafe in 1860, the public repone resulted in a virtual explosion of similar cafes throughout Andalucía – sometime seven or eight in one city – and even in other parts of Spain (especially in Madrid and Barcelona). Often they were elegant salons with ornate decor, box seats, and a raised stage.  The artists were hired to form a cuadro, a performing group of several singers, one or two guitarists, and six or seven dancers, mostly women. There were usually sor star performers, most often singers, who were hired as the main attractions. The opportunity offered by the cafes encouraged many new artist to become professional. These artists tended to specialize in a few cante and, in doing so, created new variations ans personal style. (Each cante is defined by its rhythmic pattern, progression of tones, emotional mood, ant content of the verse. Within those limits, each cantaor can create his own style; that style is not a “song” in the sense that we think of the term, because the singer will vary the melody and the words each time he sings and even sing a number of different styles within a single performance of a particular cante.)

The period of the “Golden Age,” which lasted until about 1910, gave us most of today’s flamenco form (cantes) some of which were found in greater variety than we know today.  In spite of the popularity of flamenco, certain of the gypsy cantes – the alboreas (wedding songs) and the romance, for example – did not leave the privacy of the gypsy circles until well into the 1950’s. From the America came new music forms that spread from Spain’s port towns to the rest of Andalucía antdwere assimilated into flamenco. These cantes, callet cantes de ida y vuelta (round trip ongs) be- cause they were taken to the New Worlt, trsnsformet, ant then returnet to Spain, woult eventually inclute the milonga from Argentina, the colombianas from Columbia, and the guajira and rumba from Cuba. The flamenco repertoire was also increased by the mixing of the gypsy and Andalucian cante: The fandango evolved into new and more profound forms such as the tarantas and the malaguenas, which gradually lost their rhythmic musical accompaniment and were transferred from dance songs into serious cantes for listening. The alegrias, originally the jotas de Cadiz, appeared in new forms called romeras, mirabras, and caracoles.

Another effect of the cafe cantante period was the breaking down of regional barriers. Before them each province had developed its own styles of cante: In the gypsy neighborhood of Triana (Sevilla), emerged styles of tonas, caaas, and soleares- in the Barrio Santa María (Catiz) were developed the forms of alegrías and tangos; from the Barric de Santiago in Jerez, came the siguriyas, jaleos, bulerias, and tonas; from Granada; Malaga, and Huelva came different forms of the fandangos. In the cafes, these cantes came together, and singers learned from each other. Guitarists had to learn to accompany more than just the local styles, thereby expanding their repertoires.

In the cafe cantante, the guitar became an important part of the flamenco “show”, and guitarists developed rapidly, learning from and competing with each other. They competed not only with each other, but also with the dancers and singers. To get attention, guitarists began to insert more falsetas (melodies) into their playing, taking their themes from the cante. Soon, each club had a soloist, some of whom resorted to playing behind their backs, over their heads, or with gloves. An early soloist, Paco Lucena (c. 1855- 1930), is credited with introducing picado (rapid melodic passages played with the index and middle fingers), three- fingered arpeggios, and tremelo that he learned from a classical guitarist. Another great guitarist, Javier Molina, was more of an accompanist, but he helped to mold two of the founders of the modern flamenco guitar, Ramón Montoya and Nino Ricardo.

At some time during this period, the cejilla (seh- HEE-yah; capo) came into widespread use and made life easier for the singer. Prior to that, a singer had two basic keys he could sing in, although each could be major, minor, or phrygian; these were por arriba (above; E) or por medio (in the middle; A), with the occasional use of the por abajo position (below; D). The names came from the relative positions of these chords as seen from the perspective of the cantaor. It has been suggested that one of the reasons the raspy voice has come to be associated with flamenco was the limited choice of tones that the cantaores had and the resultant strain on the voice. (Due to the nature of the guitar and flamenco, it is not desirable to play the different song forms in different keys without the use of the cejilla. The reasons are many: The accompaniments are often too spontaneous and complicated to be learned in all keys; some keys are very difficult on the guitar; the characteristic melodies of a particular form are often molded by the chord structures of a particular key; the characteristic sound of each cante, or its accompaniment, depends upon the chords used – unlike the piano, the guitar does not sound the same in all keys. Modern players have become much more flexible in this matter but still tend to return to traditional tones for traditional flamenco forms.)

The dance in the cafe cantante was generally corto, that is, limited in variety. The primary flamenco dances were, at first, the alegrias, tanguillos de Cadiz, and soleares for the women, who emphasized the upper body and arms, with verv little footwork. The men, who danced the alegrias, farrucas, and soleares, perhaps placed more mphasis on the feet, but real virtuosity in that area was not to come until the twentieth century. The real explosion of new dance would also come in the twentieth century, when cantes that were considered to undanceable or too sacred to dance would be interpreted by great dancers and added to the repertoire.

The cafe cantante period was the beginning of what we know today as flamenco, and the growth of and change in the music were quite dramatic. In the conclusion of this article, “The Modern Era,” we will see how the many forces acting on flamenco brought it into a state of degeneration . 


[from: Guitar and Lute, March 1983]

In part one of this article, “Flamenco: The Early Years”, we saw how the cafe cantante period (roughly, 1850-1910) produced the foundation of what we know as flamenco. At this time the private and emotional cante gitano was first performed in public. It then mixed with the popular and festive folk music of Andalucfa to produce many new song forms and styles. Also, the guitar joined the cante and baile to become an essential component of flamenco. The cafe cantante, a type of nightclub that presented flamenco entertainment, became extremely popular, many of them springing up in the major cities of Andaluc;a, in Madrid and Barcelona, and in oher parts of Spain.

In spite of the impressive growth of the flamenco art, all was not roses during the “Golden Age.” The cante gitano had come out of hiding and many of the important cantaores were gypsies, but in order to appeal to a wider audience, most cafes cantantes mixed popular music with flamenco. One that did not was the Cafe Silverio, the first of the cafes cantantes. Because Silverio Franconetti refused to oln tne commercialization, his business eventually suffered; he died poor and forgotten.

Toward the end of the century, the adulteration of flamenco increased. The fandangs (a large group of non-gypsy flamenco cantes) became ever more popular, especially a style from Malaga called malagueilas. A singer named Juan Breva, a specialist in the malagueilas, transformed the cante from dance music into a profound song for listening. Hls style created flamaneco’s first fad, for by the end of the 1800’s, at least twenty different styles of malagueilas were being sung. After Breva, Antonio Chaco~n carried the malagueiia to even greater heights and, as we shall see, brought about a whole new era in the history of flamenco. Slowly, the gypsy antaores (Chacon was not a gypsy) began to disappear fron the stages; in their place came singers of Andalucian canteS who had smoother voices, sang pretty poetry, used songs to show off virtuosity and appealed more to the general public.

We have already seen the extremes the guitarists went to in order to get attention. Apparently it was no different in the dance. In the Villa Rosa, a cafe cantante in garcelona Concha “la Chicharra” danced a gypsy dance called “El Crispin” in which, at the end of each set of steps, she removed an article of clothing until she wore only a petticoat. More and more dancers of popular non-flamenco dances such as “La Cachucha,” “La Malaguena” (not the same as the flamenco cante), and “El Jaleo” were sharing the bill with the flamenco artists. Around the turn of the century, the “Can-Can” was imported from France, and it spread through Spain with immense popularity; “La Pulga” (the flea) was sung with daring lyrics and danced in a suggestive manner by per- formers Wearing as little as a slip. Dancers began to bandon flamenco in order to perform Lhrse more provocative and iucrative dances.

Beginning in the late 1800s, intellectual aficionados began to criticize the cafes cantantes for their loss of purity, for the incursion by popular Andalucian music, and for the commercialism. To the purists, flamenco was in a state of decay But the cante gitano had had its time in the limelight and came away enriched by the addition of the guitar, the appearance of greater numbers of profesgional artists, and an expanded repertoire of cantes. The cante andaluz (Andalucian folk music) had definitely been enriched bv its contact with the gypsies. Without this natural “adulteration,” we would lack half of the flamenco cantes we have today.

 The phenomenon known as “Antiflamenquismo del ’98” continued and expanded the criticism of the cafe cantante.  Spanish intellectuals who were part of the “generation of ’98” saw flamenco as a caricature of the tourist’s idea of Spain, and as a music associated with drunks, sleazy bars, and immorality. Writers like Pfo Baroja, Eugenio Noel, and Unamuno attacked flamenco with biting satire, parody, and exaggeration. Their work would have a damaging effect on flamenco for decades to come.

The year 1910 is generally given for the end of the “Golden Age of Flamenco” and the cafe cantante, although some cafes survived for a while longer, and at least one, the “Cafe de Chinitas” in Malaga, did not close until 1941. The non-gypsy singer, Antonio Chaco~n, considered by some to be the greatest flamenco singer of all time, played a large role in the transition to the period of the “theater” or “opera” flamenco, which was to last until the 1950s. Chaco~n, knowl- edgeable in all areas of flamenco, had a voice unsuited to the cante gitano and, therefore, specialized in the cante andaluz, improving it and creating new styles of granainas, tarantas, malaguenas, and caracoles. He was extremely popu- lar, and his trademark — a flowery, highly ornamented style of singing and a falsetto voice – were widely imitated and exaggerated. In Buenos Aires, Chaco~n became the first to take flamenco into the theater, starting a new era in which flamenco became a theater art form Don Antonio Chaco~n – the “Don” being equivalent to “Sir” and given to him out of respect for his art and his gentlemanly manners – became flamenco’s highest paid artist.

While Chaco~n did not himself corrupt flamenco with his innovations, he opened the door for a rash of imitators who were less concerned with tradition than he. The most signi- ficant of these was Pepe Marchena, a virtuoso who used his abilities to mix flamenco with popular music and to intro- duce commercial theatrics into his performance. He started the revolution known as “Marchenismo” or “Opera Flamenca,” in which flamenco was softened, and elaborated with trills to make it prettier. Pepe Marchena was the first to break with tradition and stand while singing, and he was the first to sing with an orchestra.

Antonio Chaco~n lived to see what he had started and to suffer from it. He had substituted the cartagenera and the malaguejia (two forms of fangangos) for the gypsy siguiriya, and now he saw these songs replaced by operatic fandangos and Latin American derived milongas and columbianas. Chaco~n couldn’t compete and died in poverty in 1929.

With the cafes closing or changing to other kinds of entertainment flamenco artists began to work in theaters and with touring companies, or outside of Spain. (Paris became an important center of flamenco activity.) By 1920, this trend was in full swing. Flamenco appeared in zarzuelas (musical comedies), where it was mixed with operatic arias and often accompanied by piano or orchestra, as well as guitar. Traveling Spanish ballet companies brought flamenco- styled treatments of Spanish classical dances and music to theaters in Spain and around the world. One of the earliest of these companies was that of La Argentina, although Pastora Imperio had danced in a theater in Buenos Aires as early as 1915; later, there would be Carmen Amaya, Vicente Escudero, La Argentinita and, finally, Jose Greco. These CompanieS had a profound effect on Spanish dance. In the search for new material, cantes that had never been danced before were chosen for dance interpretation: La Argentinita first danced la caiTa in the 1930s, Vicente Escudero the siguiriyas in 1940, to which mode Pilar Lopez was the first to play castanets; the culmination of that trend was the dancing of the chant-like martlnetes (blacksmith’s song, sung without musical accompaniment).

Flamenco had been receiving international exposure ever since it had first been presented at the Paris Exposition in 1889. This exposure increased dramatically in the early twentieth century. In 1914, a version of Manuel de Falla’s El Amor Brujo” called “Embrujo de Sevilla” was presented in London and featured important Spanish artists. Later, De Falla would be commissioned by Sergie Diaghilev to create “The Three Cornered Hat” for the Russian Ballet (Picasso would do the sets and costumes). In 1921 a cuadro flamenco performed in Paris in conjunction with the Russian Ballet season. This type of exposure resulted in the incorporation of Spanish and flamenco themes in the music of renowned composers from many different countries. There was, of course, Manuel de Fall from Spain, along with Albeniz, Turina, and Breto~n, and from France, Bizet, Ravel, and Debussy, while Russia produced Spanish themes from such composers as Glinka, 90rodin, and Rimsky-Rorsakov.

Spanish dancers took this “classical” music with Spanish themes and set flamenco-styled choreography to them; such choreography became the main repertoire of the touring Spani5h dance companies, along with the original SpaniSh ballet dances from what is called the escuela bolera (bolero school of dance). Not only did these “classical” and “theatre” dances increase the repertoire, but they gave a new dimension and virtuosity to the dance. Castanets, adopted from the escuela bolera and the region-l folk dances, were developed into concert instruments and used more and more in the classical interpretations and even in the gypsy dances – something that many artists object to even today. The disci- plined, academy-trained dancers refined the techniques of armwork, body carriage and turns, but it was a flamenco dancer named Antonio de Bilbao who dazzled the dance world with the virtuosity of his footwork; Spanish dance was never the same. The gypsy whirlwind, Carmen Amaya, did the same for the feminine dance, and soon women were dressing in pants and pounding their feet furiously. In summation, the Spanish ballet companies refined, stylized, and civilized the flamenco dance.

In 1922, Manuel de Falla and the poet, Federico Garcfa Lorca, were instrumental in organizing a contest of cante jondo (deep song; the most profound of the cantes) in Granada. With the support of many intellectuals and impor- tant artists, the contest attempted to revive the disappear- ing gypsy cante by seeking to find in the small towns noR- professional (and, therefore, supposedly, uncorrupted) performers who still knew the old traditional songs. The contest did not succeed in this goal, for the cante gitano is not a music “of the people”; only professionals who dedicate their lives to it are capable of doing justice to this diffi- cult art. However, the event was well publicized and came off with a great deal of ceremony – including guitar recitals by Andres Segovia, who played soleares on one occasion and served as one of the judges in the contest. There were some positive results from the contest: A number of old cantes were recorded and saved for posterity, and a couple of artists, one in his seventies and the other twelve years old, were given a great deal of publicity. For the first time, intellectuals had supported flamenco; no longer could its value as a musical art form be denied, and the damage done by the “generation of ’98” could undergo the long process of repair.

On the other hand, the contest of Granada may have contri- buted to the very thing it had sought to counteract, for immediately afterward began the great touring variety shows that presented the new flamenco and exploited the winners of the contest, particularly the young gypsy, Manolo Caracol, who went on to become one of the most successful of the commercial singers

Flamencologists generally paint a picture of the flamenco opera period as a time when all that was heard were the falsetto voices of operatic psuedo-flamenco warblers who elaborately embellished the different forms of fandangos to the accompaniment of orchestra. One important writer (Felix Grande, Memorias del Flamenco, 1979) states: “Everything pro- duced in this period cannot be called nauseating, but a good part of it can.” Manuel de Falla, in a pamphlet written in conjunction with the Granada contest, summed up the view of many aficionados: “The majestic canto gravo [cante jondo; profound cantel of yesteryear has degenerated into the ridi- culous ‘ flamenquismo’ of today. The sober vocal modulation– the natural inflexions of the song that result from the divisions and subdivisions of sound– has become an artifi- cial, ornamented trend that is more like the decadence of the worst Italian epoch than like the primitive cantes of the Orient, with which our songs can be compared only when they are pure.” Creativity during this period is considered to have been limited, in the cante, to the operatic fandango, the Latin guajira, columbianas, and milongas, and the orchestral form of the zambra.

But good flamenco was not completely extinct. Many great artists in this “era of the NiaOS, as a great cantaor put it (so called for the many artists who put NiaO before their names – NiaO Marchena, NiaO de Huelva, NiaO Sabicas, NiaO Ricardo, La Niaa de la Puebla, etc.), were able to adapt to the new situation and bridge the gap between the old and the new; some of them became great stars, recorded extensively, and made a great deal of money. Manolo Caracol ( the contest winner) was one of them. Another was the great Pastora Pav7n, “la Niaa de los Peines” (“Girl of the Combs,” named for a verse she made famous), who is considered to be fla- menco’s greatest female singer – in spite of the fact that she was extremely popular and commercially successful throughout the opera period. Pastora gave the public what it wanted, with fandangos and cuples (pop songs) in the rhythm of bulerfas, but she almost always included some traditional flamenco on her records – different styles of soleares, siguiriyas, alegrfas, bulerfas, or tango9. She made a very large number of records between 1910 and 1940 and was accompanied by most of the great guitarists, from Luis Molina at the beginning of her career, through Ramon Montoya and, toward the end of her career Melchor de Marchena.

Another example is Antonio Mairena, recently deceased in his seventies and considered by many to be the greatest cantaor of recent times. Mairena, or NiaO Rafael as he was called in his early years, knew a great deal of the tradi- tional cante, but was forced to sing pop music to earn a living. In his book, Las Confesiones de Antonio Mairena, ( 1976), he describes a typcial sLtuation: Mairena had been offered the chance to make four records in Barcelona and had had prepared a program of flamenco – seguiyira, soleares, alegrfas and tangos. He writes: “But when I arrived in Barcelona and presented my program, the recording company told me not to even mention pure cantes, that I had to record four sides of fandangos and four of cuples por buler;as.  That was an ordeal for me because I was not a fandango singer. Besides that, I had to learn the words and melodies of the cuples and, in order to avoid lapses of memory, I had to record with a music stand in front of me, like some musician or I don’t know what!”

The guitar blossomed during this time. At the forefront was Ramon Montoya (c. 1880-1949), a gypsy who lived most of his life in Madrid and greatly influenced all guitarists who came after him; both Sabicas and Mario Escudero played a great deal of Montoya’s music on their early records. He developed his style while playing for singers in the cafes cantantes, and later, influenced by the playing of the classical guitarists Francisco Tarrega and Miguel Llobet, he began to incorporate classical techniques into his playing Montoya is credited with creating the four-fingered tremolo now used in flamenco and with introducing more complex arpeggios and picados (single note passages); he also developed the left hand for playing his many difficult creations. Montoya composed many melodies that are now con- sidered standard or “traditional” and was the creator of a flamenco form, the rondeaa for guitar, that is now part of the standard repertoire. Montoya alternated between accompanying the great singers in private parties, recording with most of the top artists, and giving solo recitals around the 3 world. He also recorded some guitar duets with Amalio Cuenca, a soloist who had been one of the judges in the Granada contest.

Other guitarists included NiaO Ricardo, one of the greatest influences on flamenco guitar between Ramo~n Montoya and the moderns. Ricardo made a living playing with orches- tras and operatic singers, but on the side he created profound flamenco music. There was also Manolo Badajoz, who preferred private parties to theatrical performances, Miguel Borrull, Luis Yance, Luis Marvilla, Esteban Sanlucar, whose flamenco compositions are still played by concert artists, and even Melchor de Marchena, who was quite a virtuoSo in his youth, but then became the exemplary subdued and emotional accompanist in his later years – from the 1950’s into th 1970’s.

The great guitarist, Agustfn Castellon “Sabicas” brought the music of Ramon Montoya to the Americas and, probably as a result of his long association with the gypsy dancer Carmen Amaya, developed a strongly rhythmic style, in contrast to I Ramo~n Montoya’s more free and Iyrical approach. In the 19409 j and 1950s Sabicas added many new forms to the solo guitar repertoire that had previously only been sung or danced, including verdiales, zambra, garrotin, sevillanas, columbianas, milongas and guajiras.

Under the influence of these guitarists, solo flamenco guitar music gradually became more elaborate, Ivrical and technical. The trend would reach its peak in the earlv 1960s, largely outside of Spain, with feeble attempts to pla j flamenco on classical guitars and to fuse the music with ja22 3 or rock and roll. But in Spain another force had been brewing: Manuel Serrapi (“Nino Ricardo”) had a stvle of playing that was very diffrent from that of Ramo~n ontoVa; the technique was equallv developed, but the sund ac hard and dissonant. Niiio Ricardo’s music would influence a generation of guitarists and eventually mold the early playing of a guitarist who was to revolutionize flamenCo:  Paco de Lucia.

Not all of the great artists were able to make the tranSI tion to the new commercial flamenco. As we saw. An!nl Chaco~n fell victim to the very phenomenon that he helped create. The great, although eccentric, gypsy singer Manue orre could not sing unless he was “a gusto” (in the mood) nd thus could not sing in scheduled performances; Torre etired to Sevilla with the greyhounds, pocket watches, and ighting cocks he loved so much, earning a meager living from ccasional private fiestas. Another who could not perform nless conditions were to his liking was Tomas Pavo~n, the rother of La Nina de los Peines. Many dance stars of an arlier periodalso fell on hardtimes, including La Macarrona, a Malena, and La Gamba; these artists were so poor that they ad o rent a dress if they managed to find a job dancing for private fiesta.

 Two guitarists who fell into the category of non-theatrical performers were Manolo de Huelva and Javier Molina. Manolo de Huelva was called amazing by those who heard him, but was mystery to most of the flamenco world because he would not record or teach his music, and he was reluctant to play in ront of other guitarists. For most of his career, Manolo layed only for private fiestas and in the latter part of his ife became even more secretive. Javier Molina was born in 868 and therefore played at the peak of the cafe cantante eriod. He was instrumental in the development of modern lamenco, having taught Nirlo Ricardo, Periico el del Lunar, nd he influenced Ramo~n Montoya, who admired him greatly. ltough Molina continued to perform until 1940 and taught uitar until his death in 1956, he never really participated n the theater flamenco and lived primarily from private iestas.

The most important means of survival for the gypsy artists nd other flamencos who were not temperamentally suited to ublic performance was the private fiesta or juerga. Juergas ad existed since the early days of the cafe cantante. Most afs, a Yell as many bars and inns, had backrooms called eservaos that could be used for private parties. A table nd a few chairs or benches created the environment for atherings of four to seldom more than fifteen people -a gui- arist or two, a couple of cantaores, and a few aficionados, ncluding those who would pay for the artists and supply the rinks; seldom were dancers involved – the dance, if it ccurred, would be sponaneous. The juerga would typically egin at two or three o’clock in the morning, after the ormal nightclub perform-nces were over, (most flamenco show n Spain today still begin after 11:00 p.m.) and would ontinue until the following morning or the next afternoon, r go on for several days. Many flamencos were known for heir ability to go for days without sleep and to drink lmost continuously. The artisti, often through drink or xhaustion, would sometimes exceed their normal capacity and each heights of creativity that drove the onlookers to tear nd states of ecstacy. These supreme moment9 of flamenco, hen the duende (spirit or “soul”) is present and the music uts straight to the heart, are what aficionados and artists onstantly seek and strive for. The juergas were an impor- ant source of income for flamenco artists, but also involved xhausting and degrading work, as well as making the artists ependent upon the wealthy seoritos for their existence. In odern times, the juerga has lost its popularity as a way of ife.

There were some attempts to revive traditional flamenco in he public eye. Several contests were held prior to the panish Civil War that began in 1936. In one contest, the Llave del Oro” (Gold Rey) was awarded to the popular singer anuel Vallejo, and in another the jury included singers Pepe I de la Matrona and Fernando el de Triana, the author of the irst collection of flamenco biographies. (Flamenco artists ake their names in many ways; in these two cases, Pepe took he name of his mother, Manolita “La Matrona,” and Fernando ook the name of his home town, Triana.) Prizes went to the raditional cantaor, Perico~n de Cadiz, and to other singers or fandangos. Whatever their intentions, these contests warded prizes primarily to commercially successful fandango ngers.

nother typical attempt to present the “pure” flamenco was touring company that included La Nia de los Peines, the uitarists Ramo~n Montoya, Luis Yance, and Nino Ricardo, and he dancers La Macarrona and El Cojo de Malaga (The Lame one rom Malaga). However, the show, which was presented in ullrings, was of the “opera” variety.

After the Civil War, the singer Conchita Piquer revived a how called “Las Calles deCadiz” (The Streets of Cadiz) that ad first been conceived and performed by La Argentinita in 1933. The show featured old-time performers, some of whom had to come out of retirement, in a re-creation of the street9 of the flamenco barrio of Santa Marfa in Cadiz at the turn of the century. The revived version included many fine artists: La Nia de los Peine9, her husband Pepe Pinto, Perico~n de Cadiz, dancers La Malena and La Macarrona (then in their sixties and seventies), and the guitarists Melchor de Marchena and Nino Ricardo. For five years the show toured throughout Spain – demonstrating that this type of flamenco still had an audience. But even shows of this type were in- fluenced by the modern style (Pepe Pinto, for example, wa a fandango singer), and it was only away from the public lime- light that the traditional gypsy cante was preserved – in the bars and taverns and in the family gatherings, baptisms and weddings.

The final force in the internationalization of flamenco was the Civil War, which forced many artists to leave Spain:  Carmen Amaya and her family went to South America, where they were a big success; the great guitarist Sabica- joined the Amaya company and did not return to Spain until the 19609, making his home in Mexico and the United States; Carlos Montoya came to America with a dance company and remained in New York; Vicente Escudero was in Pari and then America; Ramon Montoya gave guitar recitals in Pari8, London, Switzer- land, Brusselg, and Buenos Aires. Many dance companie- appeared in the year that followed the war, including thoe of La Argentinita, Pilar Lopez, and Ro8ario and Antonio. Eventually foreign dancers created their own dance comp-nie and achieved international renown: From Mexico came Luiillo, Roberto Iglesias, and Ximenez-Vargas, and from the United States, Jose Greco. The international popularity of Spanih dance indirectly helped to bring this “theater” epoch to an end.

The decadent “theater-opera” period of flamenco began to lose steam in the late 1940 and gradually caoe to an end in the 1950s. This decline was due to everal factors. The foreign public had responded to the emotional impact of the flamenco dances presented by the Spanih ballet companie, and consequently, the companie began to feature oore flamenco. Tourist began to flock to Spain, expecting to %-e the exciting “Gypsy” dance. In 1950 the fir8t tabl-o de flamenco, El Cortijo del Guajiro, opened in Sevilla. The tablao was 5imilar to the old cafe cantante in that it pre- sented shows of flamenco dance, song, %nd guitar. One difference was that the dance was the center of attention; the cante and guitar served primarily to support the baile.  In 1954, La Zambra opened in Madrid. The Zambra was a tablao that attempted to preient the purest pos8ible foro of flamenco. In that sense, one is reminded of the caf6 cantante of Silverio – one of the first to pre8ent pure flamenco, but then eventually to close, unable to compete with the more commercial establishments; the Zambra closed in the mid-1970s.

The Zambra and many other tablaos that opened soon after were only one element in a sudden surge of interest in “pure” or “traditional” flamenco. Two contests in Cordoba, one in 1956 and another in 1959, revealed some new and some old cantaores who could majestically perform the traditional cante; young Fosforito, who would be an important figure for decades to come, showed himself to have an encyclopedic know- ledge of the cante, while the gypsies, Juan Talegas and Fernanda de Utrera, revealed the pure cante gitano that had been hidden from public view for so long. These contests showed the way to many others, and eventually to the pheno- menon of the festival.

In 1955, a French recording company asked the guitarist at the Zambra, Perico el del Lunar, to help them record an anthology of pure cante flamenco. The resulting collection of nearly forgotten cantes, sung by some of the most knowl- edgeable cantaores of the day, won the prize for best record in France and sold successfully around the world. The next decade saw the recording of many anthologies (studious collections of cantes on two to seven records, often with one or two whole sides devoted to different styles of a single cante).

An American, Donn Pohren, wrote two books, The Art of Flamenco (1962) and Lives and Legends of Flamenco (1964), that presented a strong case for the traditional or “old- style” flamenco, and when they sold widely outside of Spain, these books helped to fee the fire of “purity”. Enthusiasts began to come to Spain looking for “authentic” flamenco.

Travelling dance companies, particularly that of Jose Creco, began to bring high qualilty noncommercial flamenco artists to the audiences of the world. Thus, a kind of renaissance of flamenco occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.   Flamenco was popular around the world, records of traditional cnte were available in American supermarkets, and no “coffee house” was complete without a resident flamenco guitarist.

In Spain, at the same time, recordings were preserving manv of the old cantes for posterity, and intellectual aficionados were writing books that dealt seriously with flamenco, tracing its origins and analyzing its forms.  Antonio Mairena, considered by many to be the most important cantaor of our time, and writer Ricardo Molina wrote in their definitive ercyclopedic study of flamenco, undo y Formas del Flamenco, 1964): “The regression of the fandango and the cuple and the growing rise in the traditional flamenco cante is an undeniable fact. Each day, the atmosphere of aficion is better.”

When tablaos opened up all over Spain, tourists flocked to them to see the “real” flamenco. In the early 1960s, Donn Pohren opened a ranch near Sevilla where foreigners could go to experience and learn flamenco and to listen to the guitar playing of Diego del Gastor, an eccentric genius with his own style of playing. Diego had been virtually unknown outside of the local area, but soon became probably the most widely recorded flamenco guitarist who has ever lived – although only on the protable tape recorders of the foreigners who went to Moro~n de la Frontera to hear him, for he would not make records.

During this twenty year renaissance period, the emphasis was on the rediscovery and preservation of the old flamenco that had been in danger of being lost. Flamenco clubs called penas flamencas began to spring up all over Spain; in the penas, the aficionados gathered to listen to cante – live or recorded – and to discuss the relative merits, interpretation or history of each style, or each letra (verse). The 1958 founding of the Catedra de Flamencologia in Jeres de la Frontera established a center for the study, preservation, and promotion of flamenco in its purest form; in addition to maintaining the center and a flamenco museum, the Catedra has each year since sponsored flamenco courses in guitar and dance, presented flamenco recitals and concerts, and awarded national prizes to the top artists and flamenco media (books, records, radio shows).

In spite of this great emphasis on history and tradition, a number of elements were coalescing that would bring about a revolution in flamenco. The tablaos had a profound effect on the art. Many, if not most, of today’s top artists started their careers in the tablaos. Because of the emphasis given to the dance, the cante and guitar developed in a manner that was suitable for dance. For the cante, that meant becoming more markedly rhythmical and cuadrao, that is, having one line of song to one compas or rhythmic cycle, instead of stretched out over two or more compases as it had been in the old cante; that meant the cante was less free and less subtle than in the past. This way of singing has been highly criti- cized by the older cantaores, but has become the most common and acceptable manner of singing today. There has also been a clarification of cante styles in reCent years. (The cante has always been the basis for classifying flamenco forms; the guitar and dance forms are based on the cante.) ames have been standardized, and distinctions between cantes have been made more definite. An example would be the tangos and tientos, which were practically indistinguishable twenty years ago and were called tangos flamencos, tangos gitanos, tangos canasteros, tientos canasteros, tientos antiguos, and tientos por zambra. This clarification was encouraged not only by the tablaos, but also by the tremendous amount of recording that had been done, and by the study and writings of intellectual aficionados.

The guitar also felt the impact of the dance. In order to accompany song and dance in noisy tablaos without amplifica- tion, the guitarist developed new, more powerful strummin techniques which emphasized rhythm. A leader in this area was a guitarist out of the caves of Granada, Juan Maya “Marote,” who did a great deal to popularize a strongly rhythmical approach to dance accompaniment. However, the guitarist of the 1980s seldom takes the liberties with rhvthm that were the trademarks of great song accompanists of the past like Ramon Montoya or Melchor de Marchena; the result has been a certain loss of expressiveness. This loss was made up in other areas. As dancers searched for ever more complicated steps, guitarists learned from them and vice versa. The result was a mutual exchange in’ an era of great counter-time complexlty.

A number of important guitrists emerged on the Spanish scene in the 1960s. Sabicas, who had been away from Spain for thirty years, was exposed to Spaniards by American guitarists, through his records, and finally with his triumphant return to his native land in the late 1960s. Victor Monje “Serranito,” a musically complex flamenco gui- tarist, created an awesome, innovative technique (among other things, three-finger picados and plucking with back or up strokes of the thumb) and very complex contrapuntal music.  (Flamenco is traditionally linear or melodic rather than harmonic.) Even Diego del Gastor made himself felt, in part through his nephew, Paco del Gastor, who took the highl improvisational, flowing style of playing that was character istic of Diego to Madrid, where it was admired by the younger generation of guitarists. Paco de Lucia hd been acquiring a reputation from the time he was twelve years old, and the appearance of his first solo album in the late 1960s marked the real start of the flamenco guitar revolution. We can never be certain where Paco’s ideas came from, but this record showed the flamenco world a technique unmatched in the history of the art and a new music that would eventually incorporate new ideas in counterpoint and countertime, lush harmonies and suspended tones, and finally, jazz and Latin melodies, scales, and chord structures. Paco redefined che rhythms of bulerfas, tangos, and rumbas in a flurrv of records that followed. He brought flamenco to national attention in Spain with a hit recording of a rumba, “Encre Dos Aguas,” and then co the whole world through his colla- borations with the rock group “Santana,” and with Larry Coryell, Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea.  Equally important was Paco de Lucia’s collaboration with a young genius of the cante, Camaro~n de la Isla, who became che most influenial singer of the 1970s. Camaro~n sang like nobody before him, wich a great knowledge and incredible sense of rhythm, with charisma and a style that had strong Arabic overtones, a wailing lament, dissonant and sorrowful.  Paco and Camaro~n made a dozen or so records that licera rewrote the book on flamenco. They became bigger than life “stars,” worshipped and imitated by the younger generation

So much happened at once: Gypsy youth who had been exposed ; to the hard rock music of Che 1960s began to play eleccric j inscruments and rock-influenced music; this made possibl flamenco with electric bass, flutes, drums, and synthesi  Marijuana and cocaine replaced alcohol in many flamenco circles. Gypsies began to speak out about the Centuries- long persecution of their race; Andalucians, long the underdogs in Spain, cried out for their rights; all of Spain entered a new stage of political awareness with the demise of Franco. All of this led to the appearance of political an social issues as themes of flamenco songs. The epic Story of gypsy persecution was told by cantaor, El LebrijanO. in his theatrical production and record “Persecucion,” and J!S Menese followed with the record “Andalucia: 40 Ailos” (Anda- lucia: the last 40 years). The jaZz trained gypsy baila!r’

Mario Maya, created the theatrical dance productions.  “Camelamos Naquerar” (gypsy language for, “We want to speak”) and “Ay!” Other avante-garde dance productiong followed, and in 1982, dancer Antonio Gade9 used flamenco in 8 dance ver- sion of Garcfa Lorca’s “Bodas de Sangre” t”Blood Wedding”), which later became an internationally acclaimed film. Also in 1982, the cantaor Enrique Morente sang flamenco in a pro- duction of “Oedipus Rex” in the Roman ruins of Merida, Spain.

During the 1970s, the phenomenon of the festival emerged and exploded in popularity. Such concerts, held outdoors in a bullring or stadium, or indoors in a theater or sports arena, features generally eight to fifteen cantaores (occa- sionally as many as twenty-five), who sing three songs each, accompanied by one of three guitarists. Frequently a dancer will be featured in one or two numbers at some point in the evening, often at the end. Festivals normally begin around 11:00 p.m. and often last until dawn. Held only during the summer, these festivals became so popular that, by 1981, there was one almost every night somewhere in Andalucfa, with attendance of two or three thousand people t each one.  Flamenco artists could finally make a decent living, and ela- menco reached a broader audience than ever before. But it was a new environment for flamenco: Intimacy and spontaneity were out, professionalism and commercialism were in. An artist performed not when he felt overwhelmed by the need, but when his turn came up. Since duende doesn’t appear on command, it stands little chance in the festivals.

Related to the commercialism of the festivales is the commercialism of the recording industry. Beginning about 1970, a flood of flamenco records began to pour forth, and the popular cantaores had to frantically search for new material to record. Enter song writers. At this point, instead of singing traditional melodies and verses, flamenco artists were singing catchy melodies and trite love songs with a chorus after each verse, gimmicky introductions and orchestrations. A song became a hit one day and was passe the next. Today, it seems that each cantaor follow8 the same pattern: His first record features primarily good traditional flamenco and establishes his reputation; the second recording contains traditional flamenco, but has an extra dose of popular bulerfas and tangos; the third record is mostly cuples, composed bulerfas and tangos; the fourth record is orchestrated, and the singer may even croon a few pop songs.  A singer or a guitarist can only have so much traditional or high quality original flamenco in him, it seems, and then he has to turn to gimmicks to sell more records.

The flamenco life style is gradually disappearing.  Flamenco artists do not often live from juergas as they did in the past. Young artists do not particularly like the hard work of the juergas and prefer to look for work in the festivales, in the tablaos, or in recording. Rural life is being replaced by urban life. More gypsies are joining the mainstream of Spanish life, marrying outside their race and gradually being assimilated. Yet, surprisingly, the distinction between gypsy and non-gypsy flamenco still exists.  Gypsies still tend to prefer and excel in their cantes – the bulerfas, tangos, siguiriya and soleares – while the non-gypsies often prefer and perform better the many fandangos styles.

Gypsies have their own way of dancing and playing guitar as weII. One significant difference between the “opera” period and the present is that it was the payo or non-gypsy who corrupted flamenco in the past, but today it i the gypsies who are leading flamenco into new areas Paco de Lucfa and Manolo SanlGcar, neither of whom is gypsy, started the guitar revolution, but now it is gypsy guitarists like Raimundo Amador and Diego Cortes who are using flamenco in their rock groups: Camaro~n, Lebrijano, Lole and her family, Los Montoya, who are rvolutionizing the cante; and Mario Maya who is the vanguard of change in the dance.

Not only have the gypgy-Andaluz distinctions survived, but there is still – miraculougly in this age of mass media – some stylistic differences between the flamenco from differ- ent parts of Andalucfa. It is possible, for example to dis- tinguish guitar styles from Jerez and Sevilla.

In the 1980s, we find a flamenco that i very theatrical and commercial and that explores new channels of expresion in rock, jazz, theater, film, and complex instrumentation.  There have been incredible technical advances in all apect of the art. Along with technique comes comcercial exploita- tion. In the “opera” period, Manolo Caracol and La Nia de lo Peine8 were capable of singing great fl-menco but choe to sing operatic fandangos and cuple wih orche-trJl accomp-ni- ment; today, Chiquetete and La Sui do the 8ame thing, but the reigning flamenco form are the much abused bulerfa, tangos, and rumbag, with almot everybody singing cuples in these rhythms. The critics say that trJditional flamenco i being lost, ruined, and left behind.

Does some of this sound familiar? It hould, for the scenario is very similar to that of the end of the 1800 and later, the opera period. The same thing probably happened many times before, with the precursor8 of flamenco. Flamenco was created by successive invasions of extern-l influences, whether Arabs or rock group8. Critic8 have alwJys felt that flamenco was at its best in an earlier period and is corrupted in the pre8ent. Ironically, the “pure” flamenco of the pat is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of an even earlier state of “purity.” The best flamenco we hJve tod-y i the product of many 8uch corruption-. Flamenco eem to go in cycles of obsession with purity alternating with periods of revolution/decadence. It may be that period of revolution/ decadence are essential in order to dirupt the stagnJtion of routine and orthodoxy, to inject new life blood into the Jrt form, and to attract a new audience a the old one get older.

In the cafe cantante period, the cante wa the mot 8igni- ficant element in flamenco and made gredt advance. In the opera period, it was the baile that made the greJtest tech- nicsl advances and wa8 the focus of attention, especially internationally. Throughout the history of flamenco, with minor exceptions, the guitar played a secondary role and stayed in the background. In the modern era, however, the guitar is receiving full attention, both in Spain and in other countries. Guitar solo record albums and concert per- formances were tremendously popular in the 1950-1960 period.  Guitar techniques and musical sophistication have advanced very significantly in the last twenty years. But the real change, in the era of the guitar, is in the attitudes of per- formers and aficionados. Two examples: In 1977, in a festi- val outside of Malaga, the guitarist Paco Cepero received as many ovations for his guitar playing as did Camaro~n de la Isla, the singer Cepero was accompanying; many in the audience felt that was the reason Camaro~n cut short his per- formance and stalked off stage. In 1982, while Enrique Melchor, son of Melchor de Marchena, was playing for the singer, Turronero, in the middle of a profound tientos,  Melchor played a very fast scale run that was originally recorded by Paco de Lucfa, and the audience applauded wildly;

Turronero grabbed Melchor by the shoulder of his jacket, dragged him from his chair, and forced him to take a bow.  Such a thing would have been unheard of ten years ago.

Today, the guitar and flamenco are obviously out of control. But flamenco is amazingly resilient. It follows fads until they go too far, and then snaps back and goes in a different direction. It bends, but does not break. It survives. 



The roots of flamenco evolved in southern Spain from many sources: Morocco, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Greece and other parts of the Near and Far East. How exactly they came together as flamenco is a source of great debate and obscurity, though most authorities believe the roots of the music were brought by gypsies arriving in the fifteenth century. In the following century, it fused with elements of Arab and Jewish music in the Andalucian mountains, where Jews, Muslims and “pagan” gypsies had taken refuge from the forced conversions and clearances effected by the Catholic kings and church. The main flamenco centres and families are to be found today in quarters and towns of gypsy and refugee origin, such as Alcal? del R’o, Utrera, Jerez, and Cadiz, and the Triana barrio of Sevilla.There are two theories about the origins of the name flamenco. One contends that Spanish Jews migrated through trade to Flanders, where they were allowed to sing their religious chants unmolested, and that these chants became referred to as flamenco by the Jews who stayed in Spain. The other is that the word is a mispronunciation of the Arabic words felag (fugitive) and mengu (peasant), a plausible idea, as Arabic was a common language in Spain at the time.

Flamenco aficionados enjoy heated debate about the purity of their art and whether it is more validly performed by a gitano (gypsy) or a payo (non-gypsy). Certainly, flamenco seems to have thrived, enclosed, preserved and protected by the oral tradition of the gypsy clans. Its power, and the despair which its creation overcomes, has emerged from the precarious and vulnerable lives of a people surviving for centuries at the margins of society. Flamenco reflects a passionate need to preserve their self-esteem.

These days, there are as many acclaimed payo as gitano flamenco artists. However, the concept of an active inheritance is crucial. The veteran singer Fernanda de Utrera, one of the great voices of “pure flamenco”, was born in 1923 into a gypsy family in Utrera, one of the cantaora centres. She was the grand-daughter of the legendary singer “Pinini”, who had created her own individual flamenco forms, and with her younger sister Bernarda, also a notable singer, inherited their flamenco with their genes. Even the members of Ketama, the Madrid-based flamenco-rock group, come from two gypsy clans – the Sotos and Carmonas.

Although flamenco’s exact origins are obscure, it is generally agreed that its “laws” were established in the nineteenth century. Indeed, from the mid-nineteenth into the early-twentieth centuries flamenco enjoyed a legendary “Golden Age”, the tail-end of which is preserved on some of the earliest 1930’s recordings. The original musicians found a home in the caf* cantantes, traditional taverns which had their own group of performers (cuadros). One of the most famous was the Caf* de Chinitas in Málaga, immortalized by the Granada-born poet Garc’a Lorca. In his poem A las cinco de la tarde (At five in the afternoon), Lorca claimed that flamenco is deeply related to bullfighting, not only sharing root emotions and passions, flashes of erratic genius, but because both are possible ways to break out of social and economic marginality.

Just such a transformation happened in 1922 when the composer Manuel de Falla, the guitarist Andrés Segovia and the poet García Lorca were present for a legendary Concurso de Cante Jondo. A gypsy boy singer, Manolo Caracol, reportedly walked all the way from Jerez and won the competition with the voice and the flamboyant personality that was to make him a legend throughout Spain and South America. The other key figure of this period, who can be heard on a few recently re-mastered recordings, was Pastora Pavon, known as La Nina de Los Peines, and popularly acclaimed as the greatest woman flamenco voice of twentieth century.

In addition to café cantantes, flamenco surfaced – as it does today – at fiestas, in bars or tablaos, and at juergas, informal, private parties. The fact that the Andalucian public are so knowledgeable and demanding about flamenco means that musicians, singers and dancers found even at the most humble local club or festival are usually very good indeed.

The flamenco performance is filled with pauses. The singer is free to insert phrases seemingly on the spur of the moment. The guitar accompaniment, while spontaneous, is precise and serves one single purpose – to mark the compas (measures) of a song and organize rhythmical lines. Instrumental interludes which are arranged to meet the needs of the cantaor (as the creative singer is called) not only catch the mood and intention of the song and mirror it, but allow the guitarist to extemporize what are called falsetas (short variations) at will. When singer and guitarist are in true rapport the intensity of a song develops rapidly, the one charging the other, until the effect can be overwhelming.

The flamenco guitar is of lighter weight than most acoustic guitars and often has a pine table and pegs made of wood rather than machine heads. This is to produce the preferred bright responsive sound which does not sustain too long (as opposed to the mellow and longer sustaining sound of classical guitar). If the sound did sustain, particularly in fast pieces, chords would carry over into each other.

The guitar used to be simply an accompanying instrument – originally the singers themselves played – but in the early decades of this century it began developing as a solo form, absorbing influences from classical and Latin American traditions. The greatest of these early guitarists was Ram—n Montoya, who revolutionized flamenco guitar with his harmonizations and introduced tremolo and a whole variety of arpegios – techniques of right-hand playing. The classical guitarist, Andr*s Segovia, was another influential figure; he began his career playing flamenco in Granada. Then in the 1960s came the two major guitarists of modern times, Paco de Lucia, of whom more later, and Manolo Sanlucar.

Solo guitarists, these days, have immediately identifiable sounds and rhythyms: the highly emotive Pepe Habichuela and Tomatito, for example, or the unusual rhythms of younger players like Ram—n el Portugues, Enrique de Melchor and Rafael Riqueni.

It is essential for an artist to invoke a response, to know they arereaching deep into the emotional psyche of their audience. They may achievethe rare quality of duende – total emotional communication with theiraudience, and the mark of great flamenco of whatever style or generation.Duende is an ethereal quality: moving, profound even when expressinghappiness, mysterious but neverthless felt, a quality that stops a listenerin their tracks. And many of those listeners are intensely involved, forflamenco is not just a music, for many it is a way of life, a philosophythat influences daily activities. A flamenco is not only a performer butanyone who is actively and emotionally involved in the unique philosophy.

For the musicians, this fullness of expression is integral to their art,which is why for as many famous names as one can list, there are many, manyother lesser known musicians whose work is startlingly good. Not everysuperb flamenco musician gets to be famous, or to record, for flamencothrives most in live performance. Exhilarating, challenging and physicallystimulating, it is an art form which allows its exponents huge scope toimprovize while obeying certain rules. Flamenco guitarist Juan Martin hasremarked that “in microcosm it imitates Spanish society – traditional on theoutside but within, incredible anarchy”.

There is a classical repertoire of more than sixty flamenco songs (cantes)and dances (danzas) – some solos, some group numbers, some with instrumentalaccompaniment, others a capella. These different forms of flamenco aregrouped in “families” according to more or less common melodic themes. Themost common beat cycle is twelve – like the blues. Each piece is executed byjuxtaposing a number of complete musical units called coplas. Their numbervaries depending on the atmosphere the cantaor wishes to establish and theemotional tone they wish to convey. A song such as a cante por solea maytake a familiar 3/4 rhythm, divide phrases into 4/8 measures, and thenfragmentally sub-divide again with voice ornamentation on top of that. Theresulting complexity and the variations between similar phrases constantlyundermines repetition, contributing greatly to the climactic and catharticstructure of each song.

Scratch a hot night in Andaluc’a, even on the much maligned Costa del Sol, and you’ll find flamenco. “You carry it inside you”, said aman in his sixties sitting next to me in the local municipal stadium indowntown Marbella. There was not a tourist in sight, it was 2am, the sky wasdeep blue-black, patterned with stars, the stadium cluttered with familiesenjoying the most pleasant hours of the andaluz summer, flapping their fansuntil dawn, children asleep on laps.

Flamenco is undoubtedly the most important musical-cultural phenomenon inSpain, and over the past decade or so it has experienced a huge resurgencein popularity, and a profile that has reached out far beyond its Andalucianhomeland. It owes its new-found influence in part, perhaps, to thesouthern-dominated socialist governments – Prime Minister Felipe Gonz?lez isfrom Sevilla, as are many of his associates. In part perhaps, it is down toSpain’s unconscious desire, now it is part of the EC, to establish anational identity that challenges European stereotypes. The sanitized kitschflamenco, all frills and castanets, exploited as an image of tourist Spainduring the Franco period, has been left far behind by a new age expressingthe vitality and attitudes of a younger generation of flamenco clans.

In the 1980s, the Spanish press hailed Ketama (named after a Moroccanvillage famed for its hashish) as creators of the music of the “New Spain”,after their first album which fused flamenco with rock and Latin salsa.Since then they have pushed the frontiers of flamenco still further byrecording Songhai, an album collaborating with Malian kora player ToumaniDiabate and British bassist Danny Thompson. Blues de la Frontera (FrontierBlues) the first disc of Pata Negra (“black leg” – the succulent tasty bitof an Andalucian leg of smoked ham – and an everyday term used for anythinggood), caused an equal sensation.

This flamenco revival of the ’80s and ’90s is no longer confined to thepurists who kept old-time flamenco alive in their pe?as or clubs. On radioand on cassettes blaring from market stalls right across the country youhear the typical high-pitched treble tones of commercial flamenco singerslike Tijeritas. The European success of the flamenco-rumba of the GipsyKings, a high profile gypsy group from southern France, has further openedand prepared the ear of European popular audiences for something morepowerful. Rumba, a Latin form, has come back to Spain from Latin America,and so is known as a music of ida y vuelta (“go and return”), one of themany fusions of the Spanish music taken to the New World with theConquistadores and their descendents, where it has mixed with African andother elements, before making its way back again .

The impetus began at the end of the 1970s, with the innovations of guitaristPaco de Lucia and, especially, the great, late singer, El Camar—n de laIsla. These were musicians who had grown up learning from their flamencofamilies but whose own musical tastes have embraced international rock, jazz and blues. Paco de Lucia blended jazz and salsa onto the flamenco sound.Camar—n, simply, was an inspiration – and one whose own idols (and fans)included Chick Corea and Miles Davis, as well as flamenco artists.

One of flamenco’s great achievements has been to sustain itself whileproviding much of the foundation and inspiration for new music emerging inSpain today. In the 1950s and 60s, rock’n’roll displaced traditional Spanishmusic, as it did indigenous musics in many parts of the world. In the 1980s,however, flamenco re-invented itself, gaining new meaning and a new publicthrough the music of Paco de Lucia, who mixed in jazz, blues and salsa, and,later, groups like Pata Negra and Ketama, who brought in more rockinfluences. Purists hated these innovations but, as Jos* “El Sordo” (DeafOne) Soto, Ketama’s main singer, explained, they were based on “the classicflamenco that we’d been singing and listening to since birth. We just foundnew forms in jazz and salsa: there are basic similarities in the rhythms,the constantly changing harmonies and improvizations. Blacks and gypsieshave suffered similar segregation so our music has a lot in common.”

Paco de Lucia, who made the first moves, is the best known of allcontemporary flamenco guitarists, and reached new audiences through hisperformance in Carlos Saura’s films, Blood Wedding and Carmen, along withthe great flamenco dancers, Cristina Hoyos and Antonio Gades. Paco, who is anon-gypsy, won his first flamenco prize at the age of 14, and went on toaccompany many of the great traditional singers, including a longpartnership with Camar—n de la Isla. He started forging new sounds andrhythms for flamenco following a trip to Brazil, where he fell in love withbossa nova, and in the 1970s he established a sextet with electric bass,Latin percussion, and, perhaps most shocking, flute and saxophone from JorgePardo. Over the past twenty years he has worked with jazz-rock guitaristslike John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, while his own regular band, featuringsinger Ram—n de Algeciras, remains one of the most original and distinctivesounds on the flamenco scene.

Other artists experimented, too, throughout the 1980s. Lol* y Manuel updatedthe flamenco sound with original songs and huge success; Jorge Pardofollowed Paco’s jazz direction; Salvador Tavora and Mario Maya stagedflamenco-based spectacles; and Enrique Morente and Juan Pe?a El Lebrijanoboth worked with Andalucian orchestras from Morocco, while Amalgama workedwith southern Indian percussionists, revealing surprising stylistic unities.Another interesting crossover came with Paco Pe?a’s 1991 Misa Flamencarecording, a setting of the Catholic Mass to flamenco forms with theparticipation of established singers like Rafael Montilla “El Chaparro” fromPena’s native C—rdoba, and a classical academy chorus.

The more commercially successful crossover with rock and blues, pioneered byKetama and Pata Negra, has become known, in the 1990s, as nuevo flamenco.This “movement” is associated particularly with the label Nuevos Medios andin Andaluc’a, and also Madrid, where many of the bands are based, is achallenging, versatile and musically incestuous new scene, with musiciansguesting at each others’ gigs and on each others’ records.

The music is now a regular sound at nightclubs, too, through the appeal ofyoung singers like Aurora, whose salsa-rumba song “Besos de Caramelo”,written by Antonio Carmona of Ketama, was the first 1980s number to crackthe pop charts, and Martirio (Isabel Quinones Gutierrez), one of the mostflamboyant personalities on the scene, who appears dressed in lace mantillaand shades, like a cameo from a Pedro Almod—var film, and sings songs withironical, contemporary lyrics about life in the cities. In general, the newsongs are more sensual and erotic than the traditional material, expressinga pain, suffering and love worth dying for.

Martirio’s producer, Kiko Veneno, who wrote Camar—n’s most popular song,”Volando voy”, is another artist who has brought a flamenco sensitivity toSpanish rock music. Other contemporary bands and singers to look out for onthe scene include La Barber’a del Sur (who add a dash of salsa), WiliGimenez and Raimundo Amador, and Radio Tarifa, who mix Arabic and pop soundsonto a flamenco base.

Flamenco songs often express pain, and with a fierceness that turns thatemotion inside out. Generally, the voice closely interacts with improvizingguitar, the two inspiring each other, aided by the jaleo: the hand-clappingpalmas, finger-snapping palillos and shouts from participants at certainpoints in the song. This jaleo sets the tone by creating the rightatmosphere for the singer or dancer to begin, and bolsters and appreciatesthe talent of the artist as they develop the piece.

Aficionados will shout encouragement, most commonly “Áol*!” – when an artistis getting deep into a song – but also a variety of stranger-soundingphrases. A stunning piece of dancing may, for example, may be greeted with”ÁViva la maquina escribir!” (long live the typewriter), as the heels of thedancer move so fast they sound like a machine; or the cry may be “Áagua!”(water), for the scarcity of water in Andaluc’a has given the word a kind ofglory.

It is an essential characteristic of flamenco that a singer or dancer takescertain risks, by putting into their performance feelings and emotions whicharise directly from their own life experience, exposing their ownvulnerabilities. Aficionados tend to acclaim a voice that gains effect fromsurprise and startling moves than one governed by recognized musical logic.Vocal prowess or virtuosity can be deepened by sobs, gesticulation and anintensity of expression that can have a shattering effect on an audience.Thus pauses, breaths, body and facial gestures of anger and pain transformperformance into cathartic events. Siguiriyas which date from the GoldenAge, and whose theme is usually death, have been described as cries ofdespair in the form of a funeral psalm. In contrast there are many songs anddances such as tangos, sevillanas and fandangos which capture great joy forfiestas.

The sevillana originated in medieval Sevilla as a spring country dance, withverses improvized and sung to the accompaniment of guitar and castanets(which are rarely used in other forms of flamenco). El Pali (FranciscoPalacios), who died in 1988, was the most well-known and prolific sevillanamusician, his unusually gentle voice and accompanying strummed guitarcombining an enviable musical pace with a talent for composing popularpoetic lyrics. In the last few years dancing sevillanas has become popularin bars and clubs throughout Spain, but their great natural habitats areSevilla’s April Feria and the annual pilgrimage to El Rocio. It is duringthe Sevilla feria that most new recordings of sevillanas emerge.

Among the best contemporary singers are the aforementioned Fernanda andBernarda de Utrera, Enrique Morente, El Cabrero, Juan Pe?a El Lebrijano, theSorderas, Fosforito, Jos* Menese and Carmen Linares. However, one of themost popular and commercially successful singers of modern flamenco was theextraordinary El Camar—n de la Isla, (the “shrimp” of the “isle” de Leonnear his C?diz home), who died in 1992.

Collaborating with the guitarists Paco and Pepe de Lucia, and latterly,Tomatito, Camar—n raised cante jondo, the virtuoso “deep song”, to a newart. His high-toned voice had a corrosive, rough-timbred edge, cracking atcertain points to release a ravaged core sound. His incisive sense of rhythmcoupled with almost violent emotional intensity, made him the quintessentialsinger of the times.

Most popular images of flamenco dance – twirling bodies in frilled dresses,rounded arms complete with castanets – are Sevillanas, the folk dancesperformed at fiestas, and, in recent years, on the disco and nightclubfloor. “Real” flamenco dance is something rather different and, like themusic, can reduce the onlooker to tears in an unexpected flash, a catharticpoint after which the dance dissolves. What is so visually devastating aboutflamenco dance is the physical and emotional control the dancer has over thebody: the way the head is held, the tension of the torso and the way itallows the shoulders to move, the shapes and angles of seemingly elongatedarms, and the feet, which move from toe to heel, heel to toe, creatingrhythms. These rhythms have a basic set of moves and timings but they areimprovised as the piece develops and through interaction with the guitarist.

Flamenco dance dates back to about 1750 and, along with the music, movedfrom the streets and private parties into the caf* cantantes at the end ofthe nineteenth century. This was a great boost for the dancers’ art,providing a home for professional performers, where they could inspire eachother. It was here that legendary dancers like El Raspao and El Estampiobegan to develop the spellbinding footwork and extraordinary moves thatcharcterizes modern flamenco dance, while women adopted for the first timethe flamboyant hata de cola – the glorious long-trained dresses, cut high atthe front to expose their fast moving ankles and feet.

Around 1910, flamenco dance had moved into Spanish theatres, and dancerslike La Nina de los Peines and La Argentina were major stars. They mixedflamenco into programmes with other dances and also made dramaticappearances at the end of comic plays and silent movie programmes. Flamencoopera was soon established, interlinking singing, dancing and guitar solosin comedies with a local flamenco flavour. 
In 1915 the composer Manuel de Falla composed the first flamenco ballet, El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician), for the dancer Pastora Imperio. LaArgentina, who had established the first Spanish dance company, took her version of the ballet abroad in the 1920s, and with her choreographic innovations flamenco dance came of age, working as a narrative in its ownright. Another key figure in flamenco history was Carmen Amaya, who from the1930s to the 60s took flamenco dance on tour around the world, and into the movies.

In the 1950s, dance found a new home in the tablaos, the aficionado’s bars,which became enormously important as places to serve out a publicapprenticeship. More recently the demanding audiences at local and nationalfiestas have played a part. Artistic developments were forged in the 1960sby Matilde Coral, who updated the classic dance style, and in the 1970s byManuela Carrasco, who had such impact with her fiery feet movement,continuing a rhythm for an intense and seemingly imposible period, that thisnew style was named after her (manuelas).

Manuela Carrasco set the tone for the highly individual dancers of the 1980s and 90s, such as Mario Maya and Antonio Gades. These two dancers andchoreographers have provided a theatrically inspired staging for the dance,most significantly by extending the role of a dance dialogue and story -often reflecting on the potency of love and passion, their dangers and 

Gades has led his own company on world tours but it is his influence on film which has been most important. He had appeared with Carmen Amaya in “LosAra?os” in 1963 but in the 1980s began his own trilogy with film-maker Carlos Saura: “Boda de Sangre” (Lorca’s play, Blood Wedding), “Carmen” (are-interpretation of the opera), and “El Amor Brujo”. The films featured Paco de Lucia and his band, and the dancers Laura del Sol and Christina Hoyos – one of the great contemporary dancers, who has herself created a superb ballet, “Sueños Flamencos” (Flamenco Dreams).

Aside from the great companies and personalities of flamenco dance, there are an enormous number of local dancers all over Andalucía, whose dancing brings flamenco to life, and whose moves can be sheer poetry.


A different article snagged from the web… 
 Flamencos themselves (ie guitarists, dancers, singers, aficionados), whatever their own specialty, and for both formal and historical reasons, usually agree that what is fundamental to flamenco is *cante* (song), i.e. a body of several dozen forms with specific rhythms, melodies, and in some cases themes, sung in a certain way.


Flamenco guitar started as accompaniment for cante, and in Spain has largely remained that, no matter how technically refined it has become. Probably the same is true of flamenco dance — that it started as an embellishment through movement of what the singer was doing. Even the virtuosos like Paco de Lucia and the late Sabicas who are famous for solo work (and who play other music besides flamenco) would probably define flamenco in terms of cante rather than of guitar technique. Both started within the tradition as accompanists of cante, and were superb ones. To anyone familiar with cante, even their solos imply the cante from which they came.

Spaniards know this already. You say “flamenco” and they think “Camaron” (a popular singer who died in 1992) or “solea” (a song form) — whether they like the stuff or not. Non-Spaniards rarely hear cante, and understandably have different associations — for instance, the guitar played in a particular way. So it’s important to emphasize for them that cante is central to flamenco in a way that a particular rasqueado isn’t.

 Compas is Spanish for 1) rhythm, generally, 2) measure — a coherent unit of rhythm, 3) the characteristic rhythm of a particular form. Thus, “he has good compas” means he has a good sense of rhythm. “The introduction is 4 compas long” means something like (but not exactly) “it’s four measures long.” “I play this in the compas of tientos” means I play it with the same rhythm you’d hear in tientos.

The backbone of all forms in flamenco that have compas at all (some of the lyrical songs don’t) is the compas. Hopefully, you will play the right notes or chords at the right time, but mistakes of that kind are quickly history. Singers and dancers will forgive you many many sour notes, and terrible tone. Unfortunately, they can’t work with you at all if you provide them a hesitant, uneven, or false rhythmic basis. For accompaniment, compas is King. It’s also the Achilles heel of many classical guitarists coming into flamenco, unless they do lots of ensemble work, or are blessed at birth with excellent compas. Classical guitar practice is typically solitary, and tempts one to always go back and fix things. You can’t do that when accompanying.

It’s easy to show that you can provide minimal accompaniment without pitch at all (much less fine tone), but not without good compas: simply damp all the strings with the left hand, and play accurate percussive rhythm with the right hand for a singer doing bulerias. S/he’ll do just fine. On the other hand, if you play all the chords perfectly but add or drop just one beat every 48, the song (or dance) will falter towards chaos (unless the other guy is very quick at covering), and s/he’ll be ready to strangle you.

 Compas, compas, compas. 

Flamenco has ancient roots, although these are often blurred. It mostly evolved from theend of the eighteenth century onwards. During the second half of the nineteenth century, both the Cante Gitano (Gypsy-stylesinging, which usually combines well-defined rythmical patterns with a stark, existentialfeeling) and the Cante Andaluz(Andalusian styles, which in many cases lost their original rythmto became more ornate and melodic than the gypsy ones) underwent great changes. They benefittedfrom a series of outstanding artists (many of whom created individual styles still performed today)and from the success of establishments where artists could perform in public : the café cantantes. At the beginning of this century flamenco was still in full musical and technical evolution. Theflamenco guitar reached concert halls, the Baile (dancing) became more sophisticated, the Cantespawned further styles. 


 However, there also grew a commercial brand of flamenco made for easy listening,which spread around a good amount of bad taste to the detriment of pure Cante. During the fourties, it was mostly thanks to remarkable personalities such as CarmenAmaya or guitarist Sabicas that good flamenco managed to retain some interest amongnon gypsies, and mostly abroad. In the fifties and sixties, perhaps also thanks to the influence of tourism, interest grew once more. Some fine recordings made it possible for people to rediscover pure flamenco artists as well as some styles that would have otherwise disappeared. 


Then, in the wake of this growing interest, guitarist Paco de Lucìa broke off fromconventions. Interpretation became looser, technique was renovated, the music itselfchanged, even drawing some inspiration from non-flamenco sources. Paco de Lucìa’ssuccessful partnership with singer Camaròn inspired so many imitators that it appearedacceptable to copy in an art which had long treasured individual creativity. Nowadays, the trend towards diversification seems to be more marked. Vicente Amigo, forexample, is a guitarist with a very distinctive way of playing. There is also much experimentation, although in many such cases the impact of deep flamencoseems absent. 


Flamenco (which is also thriving outside of Spain, for example in France and in Japan)lives through the activities of peñas (private clubs which long helped keep goodflamenco alive), through contests (some of which, like the Nimes one, are held abroad),through festivals and special events such as the important Bienal de Sevilla, through theactivities of flamenco companies and of tablaos (the successors, in a way, of the Café Cantantes).But the ideal venue remains the juerga : an informal gathering where food, drink, and goodcompany create the right atmosphere for hours of impromptu, meaningful music. 


Each flamenco style can be defined by its compàs (the accentuation pattern)and/or by its aire (that is to say the general “feeling”, which is determined by such factors as the chords used, the musical themes which may traditionally appear in a particular style, etc.)  Alegrias, 
Soleares and Bulerìas are all structured on 12 beats of which the following are generally emphasized : 3, 6, 8, 10, 12 (or 3, 8, 10)The twelve beats of the Siguiriyas stress 1,3,5,8,11.


Tientos have four beats and put the accent on the first. The rhythm is fairly syncopated.

Tangos are similar to the Tientos, but soundfaster and more regular.

Fandanguillos have six beats and stress 1, 2, 3 and 5 (or just the first and the fourth.)

Other important forms are the “cantes” sung without guitar accompaniment (“Cantesa Palo Seco” : Tona’, Debla, Martinetes, Saetas), the Caña and the Polo, the Solea’por Buleria,the Serranas and Livianas, the styles influenced by Latin Americanmusic (Colombianas, Guajiras, Milongas), the Petenera, several variations ofAlegrìas or Cantiñas (Romeras, Caracoles, Mirabras), and the many types of Cante Andaluz :the Fandango and its related styles (MalagueñasTarantas, Cartageneras, Granainasetc), as well as its many lighter, folksy versions. 


As stated by Orlando Romero in the Santa Fe Reporter, 1993:

When the Gypsy laments, he transcends his earthly pains, joys, and sorrows
into a spiritual plane of his own conception. This "Nivel," as we call it in
Spanish, is a confluence of all these passions and emotions. When Gypsies
performed Flamenco it was for family members and those friends they feel
closest to. The dancer was challenged by the Group to express these
emotions. For the Flamenco Dancer, The Dance and the music became the stage,
the vehicle for expressing these emotions. The best of Flamenco is



Flamenco is the term used to designate a particular style of song, 
dance, and guitar music that originated in Andalusia in southern Spain 
(see Spanish music). The roots of flamenco are not known, but it is 
believed that Gypsies were primarily responsible for developing and 
popularizing the style. Musicologists also find significant Arabic 
influences, particularly in the way the voice is used in singing the 
cante hondo, the "deep song," of flamenco. Both song and dance are 
accompanied by guitar, which is also used as a solo instrument. Flamenco 
dance is characterized by intricate toe and heel clicking and by the 
sinuous arm and hand gestures of the female dancers.

Flamenco songs and dances, which were once confined to cafe and 
theatrical performance, have now become part of the Spanish artistic 

Pohren, D. E., The Art of Flamenco, 3d ed. (1972; repr. 1985).