FLAMENCO (Spanish pronunciation: ), in its strictest sense, is a
professionalized art-form based on the various folkloric music
traditions of Southern
The oldest record of flamenco dates to 1774 in the book _Las Cartas
José Cadalso . The genre originated in the music and
dance styles of
In recent years, flamenco has become popular all over the world and
is taught in many non-Hispanic countries, especially the United States
and Japan. In
* 1 Etymology * 2 _Palos_
* 3 Music
* 3.1 Structure * 3.2 Harmony * 3.3 Melody * 3.4 Compás
* 4 Forms of flamenco expression
* 4.1 Toque (guitar) * 4.2 Cante (song) * 4.3 Baile (dance)
* 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Sources * 8 External links
There are many suggestions for the origin of the word _flamenco_ as a musical term (summarized below) but no solid evidence for any of them. The word was not recorded as a musical and dance term until the late 18th century.
The Spanish word _flamenco_ could have been a derivative of the Spanish word _flama_, meaning "fire " or "flame". The word _flamenco_ may have come to be used for fiery behaviour, which could have come to be applied to the Gitano players and performers.
Another theory, proposed by Andalusian historian and nationalist Blas
Infante in his 1933 book _Orígenes de lo
_Palos _ (formerly known as _cantes_) are flamenco styles, classified by criteria such as rhythmic pattern, mode , chord progression , stanzaic form and geographic origin. There are over 50 different _palos_, some are sung unaccompanied while others have guitar or other accompaniment. Some forms are danced while others are not. Some are reserved for men and others for women while some may be performed by either, though these traditional distinctions are breaking down: the _Farruca_, for example, once a male dance, is now commonly performed by women too.
There are many ways to categorize _Palos_ but they traditionally fall into three classes: the most serious is known as _cante jondo _ (or _cante grande _), while lighter, frivolous forms are called _cante chico _. Forms that do not fit either category are classed as _cante intermedio _. _Cante jondo_ has clear traces of Arabic and Spanish folk melodies , as well as vestiges of Byzantine , Christian and Jewish religious music.
These are the most known _palos_:
Bulerías por soleá (soleá por bulerías)
A typical flamenco recital with voice and guitar accompaniment, comprises a series of pieces (not exactly “songs”) in different palos. Each song of a set of verses (called _copla_, _tercio_, or _letras_), which are punctuated by guitar interludes called _falsetas _. The guitarist also provides a short introduction which sets the tonality, compás and tempo of the cante. In some palos, these falsetas are also played with certain structures too; for example, the typical sevillanas is played in an AAB pattern, where A and B are the same falseta with only a slight difference in the ending.
A typical chord sequence , usually called the " Andalusian cadence " may be viewed as in a modified Phrygian: in E the sequence is AM–G–F–E. According to Manolo Sanlúcar E is here the tonic , F has the harmonic function of dominant while AM and G assume the functions of subdominant and mediant respectively.
Guitarists tend to use only two basic inversions or "chord shapes" for the tonic chord (music) , the open 1st inversion E and the open 3rd inversion A, though they often transpose these by using a capo . Modern guitarists such as Ramón Montoya , have introduced other positions: Montoya himself started to use other chords for the tonic in the modern Dorian sections of several _palos_; F♯ for _tarantas _, B for _granaínas _ and A♭ for the _minera_. Montoya also created a new _palo_ as a solo for guitar, the _rondeña _ in C♯ with _scordatura _. Later guitarists have further extended the repertoire of tonalities , chord positions and _scordatura_.
There are also _palos_ in major mode; most cantiñas and alegrías , guajiras , some _bulerías _ and _tonás _, and the _cabales_ (a major type of _siguiriyas _). The minor mode is restricted to the _Farruca _, the _milongas_ (among _cantes de ida y vuelta _), and some styles of _tangos, bulerías_, etc. In general traditional palos in major and minor mode are limited harmonically to two-chord (tonic–dominant) or three-chord (tonic–subdominant–dominant) progressions. (Rossy 1998:92) However modern guitarists have introduced chord substitution , transition chords, and even modulation .
_ Fandangos _ and derivative _palos_ such as _malagueñas _, _tarantas_ and _cartageneras are bimodal_: guitar introductions are in Phrygian mode while the singing develops in major mode, modulating to Phrygian at the end of the stanza. (Rossy 1998:92)
Dionisio Preciado, quoted by Sabas de Hoces established the following characteristics for the melodies of flamenco singing:
* Microtonality : presence of intervals smaller than the semitone . * Portamento : frequently, the change from one note to another is done in a smooth transition, rather than using discrete intervals. * Short tessitura or range : Most traditional flamenco songs are limited to a range of a sixth (four tones and a half). The impression of vocal effort is the result of using different timbres , and variety is accomplished by the use of microtones. * Use of enharmonic scale . While in equal temperament scales, enharmonics are notes with identical pitch but different spellings (e.g. A♭ and G♯); in flamenco, as in unequal temperament scales, there is a microtonal intervalic difference between enharmonic notes. * Insistence on a note and its contiguous chromatic notes (also frequent in the guitar), producing a sense of urgency. * Baroque ornamentation , with an expressive, rather than merely aesthetic function. * Apparent lack of regular rhythm, especially in the siguiriyas : the melodic rhythm of the sung line is different from the metric rhythm of the accompaniment. * Most styles express sad and bitter feelings. * Melodic improvisation : flamenco singing is not, strictly speaking, improvised, but based on a relatively small number of traditional songs, singers add variations on the spur of the moment.
Musicologist Hipólito Rossy adds the following characteristics (Rossy 1997: 97):
COMPáS is the Spanish word for metre or time signature (in classical music theory ). It also refers to the rhythmic cycle, or layout, of a _palo_.
The compás is fundamental to flamenco. Compás is most often translated as rhythm but it demands far more precise interpretation than any other Western style of music. If there is no guitarist available, the compás is rendered through hand clapping (_palmas_) or by hitting a table with the knuckles. The guitarist uses techniques like strumming (_rasgueado_) or tapping the soundboard (_golpe_). Changes of chords emphasize the most important downbeats.
* Rhythms in 2 4 or 4 4. These metres are used in forms like tangos , tientos , gypsy rumba , zambra and tanguillos. * Rhythms in 3 4. These are typical of fandangos and sevillanas , suggesting their origin as non-Roma styles, since the 3 4 and 4 4 measures are not common in ethnic Roma music. * 12-beat rhythms usually rendered in amalgams of 6 8 + 3 4 and sometimes 12 8. The 12-beat cycle is the most common in flamenco, differentiated by the accentuation of the beats in different palos. The accents do not correspond to the classic concept of the downbeat. The alternating of groups of 2 and 3 beats is also common in Spanish folk dances of the 16th Century such as the _zarabanda_, _jácara_ and _canarios_.
There are three types of 12-beat rhythms, which vary in their layouts, or use of accentuations: soleá, seguiriya and bulería.
* peteneras and guajiras : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12. Both palos start with the strong accent on 12. Hence the meter is 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11... * The seguiriya , liviana , serrana , toná liviana, cabales: 121 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12.
* soleá , within the cantiñas group of palos which includes the alegrías , cantiñas, mirabras, romera, caracoles and soleá por bulería (also "bulería por soleá "): 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12. For practical reasons, when transferring flamenco guitar music to sheet music, this rhythm is written as a regular 3 4.
Bulerías is the emblematic palo of flamenco: today its 12-beat
cycle is most often played with accents on the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th and
12th beats. The accompanying _palmas_ are played in groups of 6 beats,
giving rise to a multitude of counter-rhythms and percussive voices
within the 12 beat compás.
FORMS OF FLAMENCO EXPRESSION
The origins, history and importance of the flamenco guitar is covered in the main entry for the Flamenco guitar
The origins, history and importance of the cante is covered in the main entry for the cante flamenco .
_El baile flamenco_ is known for its emotional intensity, proud carriage, expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet (often confused with tap dance or Irish dance but with a completely different technique). As with any dance form, many different styles of flamenco have developed.
In the twentieth century, flamenco danced informally at gitano (Roma)
"Classical flamenco" is the style most frequently performed by
Spanish flamenco dance companies, tending to exhibit more clearly the
characteristics derived from the Seguidilla, a traditional Spanish
dance. It is danced largely in a proud and upright way. For women, the
back is often held in a marked back bend. Unlike the more gitano
influenced styles, there is little movement of the hips, the body is
tightly held and the arms are long, like a ballet dancer. In fact many
of the dancers in these companies have trained in ballet as well as
In the 1950s Jose Greco was one of the most famous male Flamenco dancers, performing on stage worldwide and on television including the Ed Sullivan Show, and reviving the art almost singlehandedly.
Modern flamenco is a highly technical dance style requiring years of study. The emphasis for both male and female performers is on lightning-fast footwork performed with absolute precision. In addition, the dancer may have to dance while using props such as castanets, shawls and fans.
The flamenco most foreigners are familiar with is a style that was
developed as a spectacle for tourists. To add variety, group dances
are included and even solos are more likely to be choreographed. The
frilly, voluminous spotted dresses are derived from a style of dress
worn for the
Sevillanas at the annual Feria in
In traditional flamenco, young people are not considered to have the emotional maturity to adequately convey the _duende _ (soul) of the genre. Therefore, unlike other dance forms, where dancers turn professional early to take advantage of youth and strength, many flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties and will continue to perform into their fifties and beyond.
José Villegas Cordero , Baile Andaluz *
John Singer Sargent
A doll depicts a dancer with the traditional costume
Scenes of flamenco performance in Seville.
* * * * *
* _ Guitar portal * Latin music portal * Music portal
Andalusian Centre of Flamenco
Concurso de Cante Jondo
Festival Bienal Flamenco
Latin Grammy Award for Best Flamenco Album
* ^ Landborn, Adair (2015). _
* Álvarez Caballero, Ángel: _El cante flamenco_, Alianza
Editorial, Madrid, Second edition, 1998. ISBN 84-206-9682-X (First
* Álvarez Caballero, Ángel: _La Discografía ideal del cante
flamenco_, Planeta, Barcelona, 1995. ISBN 84-08-01602-4
* Banzi, Julia Lynn (Ph.D.): "
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