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Flamenco is a style of music and dance that originated in southern Spain. Whoever talks about culture in Andalusia usually mentions flamenco in the same breath. If you want to experience good, traditional flamenco live, you have the best chances in the areas around Seville and Cádiz. Here, the traditional dancing and singing of flamenco is cultivated more than anywhere else. The many flamenco demonstrations in the tourist areas only partially have something to do with real flamenco.

In Spain, flamenco is more popular than ever. Flamenco, modernized by the Spanish youth today, differs from the traditional forms, however. Other elements such as jazz and rock have an influence. The best known of these modern flamenco artists is Joaquin Cortes from Cortoba. This way of developing flamenco is controversial in Spain. For some, it’s the salvation of flamenco as a popular music counter-movement to western rock and pop. For others it is the downfall of real flamenco. For tourists, an evening of more traditional flamenco in particular is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.

What is difficult for Western Europeans is that most flamenco forms are not played in 3/4 or 4/4 time, but consist of 12 units that are stressed differently. This also creates the interesting rhythm (the so-called compas) of flamenco. Flamenco is a real folk art. Artists are invited to penas flamencas (roughly clubs) on a weekly basis and viewed and listened to together.

Flamenco traditionally consists of cante (singing), toque (guitar playing, rhythm) and baile (dance).

Flamenco Singing (Cante)

The singing is extremely difficult and difficult for non-natives to understand, as the coplas (singing style) are often very local and are therefore performed in strong dialects. A general distinction is made between the cante grande or cante hondo and the cante chico: that is roughly the serious and light music of flamenco. Anyone who has experienced the fervor with which a so-called cante chico such as Alegrias can be performed will use these terms with reservations. Typical of the cante hondo are, among others, the seguiriyas, the taranto, the fandango, the soleá (or soleares), the malagenas. Typical representatives of the cante chico are alegrias, bulerias, the tango flamenco, the rumba and in any case the well-known sevillanas.

Flamenco texts have mostly been handed down and are little changed. Translated, they often make no sense or no recognizable sense. Topics are mostly unreached love, suffering and injustice.

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Flamenco instruments

The guitar is probably the most important instrument in flamenco and is mostly only played by men. Flamenco guitars, unlike normal classical guitars, are flatter and more percussive, and have a penetrating sound, since they have to assert themselves “against” singers and dancers without amplification. There are still many smaller workshops in Spain where flamenco guitars are built by hand.

The technique of the flamenco guitar deviates significantly from the classic playing style in terms of hand position and playing style.

The guitarist traditionally accompanies the singer or dancer. The Compás is the most important thing. Solo inserts are called falseta and special parts for the dancer Escobilla.

The cajon (also called rumba box) is usually used as the percussion mechanism – a wooden box that is braced with wires on the inside and can thus simulate a complete drum kit. but tabla and other drums are also used.

Castanets are also traditionally used – two spoon-shaped sticks that are made to rattle with the hands. In modern flamenco, however, they are becoming less and less important.

Also very important are the palmas (“palms of the hands”) – clapping. There are two types of palmas: palmas claras, the loud whipping ones, and palmas sordas, the soft, muffled ones. Good Palmeros are rare, as they often have to clap very quickly and precisely for several minutes, and often offset with a second Palmero.

Dance in Flamenco (Baile)

Dance is at the heart of flamenco. Which is not surprising, since chronologically dance came first, then rhythm and finally the guitar. The dancers need maximum concentration. You are completely in the center of the action. The other musicians are subordinate to the dancer and adapt to the dance. There are very complicated and beautiful choreographies.

Origin of the word Flamenco

It is the name of a group of songs and dances from Andalusia, which largely emerged from the population of the Gitanos (Romans). The Andalusians called these people “Flamencos”. As in so many countries, they were persecuted in their homeland and expelled. Therefore, the melancholy and the suffering, which is particularly recognizable in the singing, belongs to flamenco music. With the expulsion of the Gitanos, many different new influences came into the music. This also explains why many melodies that sound Arabic can be found in flamenco.

Note: Since music is not my specialty and Wikipedia has excellent information on flamenco, this article is based on the Flamenco article from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. In Wikipedia there is a list of authors available.

More questions and answers Flamenco

Flamenco is a traditional form of music, dance and song that originated in Andalusia, a region in southern Spain. It is characterized by its emotional intensity, intricate rhythms and passionate expression. Flamenco is usually performed by a group of performers, including a singer (cantaor), a guitarist (guitarrista), and a dancer (bailaor).

What is typical for Flamenco?
Flamenco is known for its strong emotions conveyed through dance, music and song. The music is often played at a fast tempo and accompanied by percussive footwork and hand clapping. The lyrics of flamenco songs often deal with themes of love, loss and distress and are sung with a particular singing style that emphasizes the intensity of the feelings being expressed.

Where does flamenco come from?
The origins of flamenco are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have developed over several centuries in the region of Andalusia, which was home to a diverse mix of cultures including Roman, Moorish, Jewish and Gitano (Gypsy) peoples. These groups are believed to have contributed to the development of flamenco through their music, dance and song traditions.

Is Flamenco Spanish?
Yes, Flamenco is a form of Spanish cultural expression closely linked to the Andalusia region. It is often considered one of the defining characteristics of Spanish culture and has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

What does Flamenco mean in English?
The word flamenco derives from the Spanish word “flama” which means flame or fire. It is believed that the name flamenco was given to this form of music and dance because of its intense emotional expression and passionate style of performance.

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