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Spanish flamenco music

Flamenco music or flamenco is a Spanish art form with Andalusian roots that has reached all corners of the world, here we tell you about its origins.


Spanish flamenco music is called flamenco, a universal term that was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

When we talk about flamenco, we talk about art, singing, dancing, performance, we talk about the south of Spain, about a mixture of cultures, music and feelings.

Origin of flamenco music

Spanish flamenco music, known as flamenco, is an artistic expression that was born in Andalusia, the result of the mixture and influence of many cultures such as gypsy, Arab, Jewish and Christian. This is where this art form, which has spread all over the world, was born.

What is not known for sure is when it was born. It is said that it emerged from this evolution of cultures about two centuries ago, which is why we can consider flamenco to be a young music. Two centuries in music is nothing.

They say that back in 1770 the gypsies were already holding parties and gatherings where they performed their dances and songs, which is why flamenco has always been associated with the gypsy ethnic group. Although they were not the only culture that influenced flamenco, it is true that they are the ones who contributed the most to its birth and development, spreading flamenco wherever they went.

What is flamenco?

We have already stated that Spanish flamenco music is an art form, or rather, an Andalusian art form that has spread all over the world.

This art combines vocal music (cante), musical accompaniment (toque) and dance (baile).

Elements of flamenco music

Singing, one of the three fundamental elements of flamenco, is defined by the RAE as the "most genuine Andalusian singing, with deep feeling". And the fact is that flamenco singing has its own characteristics that provoke an outpouring of feelings that each cantaor expresses in his or her own way.

The guitar is the flamenco instrument par excellence, but it is not the only one we can find. The castanets, the cajón (box-drum), the palmas (hand clapping) or the heel-clapping itself are other musical elements of flamenco.

Flamenco dance is a very expressive dance with which the dancer manages to express his feelings. It is a complex dance that requires a lot of involvement on the part of the dancer, as it reaches the audience through his or her movements of arms and wrists, wiggles, turns, stomping, rhythms and counter-tempos. The bailaor or bailaora also becomes music thanks to his or her flamenco footwork. This is his or her instrument.

The percussion of the zapateo is the sound produced by the dancer hitting the floor with his or her shoes, which are designed with nails on the toe and heel.

The palos of Spanish flamenco music

In flamenco we can find a large number of "palos", all of them with a common denominator: feeling. Here are the best known palos (forms) which are accompanied by dance:

Alegrías. This palo is characterised by a fast and pleasant rhythm that invites you to dance.

Bulerías. This party palo is one of the most popular. With a fast rhythm it lends itself to jaleo and clapping. It is usually the dance with which the flamenco juerga ends.

Fandangos. This is one of the fundamental flamenco palos.

Soleás. It is a heavier and slower palo and the meter is similar to that of bulerías and alegrías (although with a different character).

Tangos. They are considered to be one of the basic flamenco palos (forms), and there are several modalities.

Sevillanas. Sevillanas are a typical song and dance from Seville. It is the most popular dance in Spain.

Styles of flamenco palos (forms)

The palos (styles) of Spanish flamenco music can be grouped into two styles:

Flamenco Jondo (= deep), also known as cante grande. This style is serious and expresses deep and tragic feelings such as anguish and death. Its dance is very intimate and has a lot of strength. Examples of flamenco jondo are the soleá, the seguiriya and the tonás.

Flamenco Festero, also known as cante chico. This is a lighter and more cheerful cante that is usually performed at parties and celebrations. The themes are happy, whether they are about love and feelings. Examples of this style are the Sevillanas, the Rumba, the Tanguillos, the Bulerías and the Alegrías.

As you can see, Spanish flamenco music can be summed up in emotion and a waste of feeling. A music that leaves no one indifferent.

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