Spanish Flamenco

spanish-flamencoThe essence of Spain, the life and soul of Andalucía!

Flamenco is a vibrant musical style loved by millions in Spain, from children as young as 3 up to grandmothers of 80. Flamenco is not just put on for the tourists as some sort of money spinning show but is a part of every day life and is constantly changing and evolving with each new generations of artists.

First we have to talk about the roots man! Well, we start with the gypsies who originally came from the Punjab in India; according to some sources a group of 2000 musicians were imported from India to Saudi Arabia hundreds of years ago .

This group formed the basis of the gypsy migration throughout Europe .

Some eventually ended up in Spain, and they took with them their musical inheritance! Combine this with the nearby Arabic influence and the music of the Jewish community, who were expelled from Spain in 1492, and add in a bit more of the global melting pot and you end up with the amazingly varied range of flamenco music today.

If you tune into some of the Indian music channels on Sky you will soon become aware of the wonderful similarity between the flamenco and Bhangra styles.

Modern flamenco styles include dance, guitar and song in various combinations normally all accompanied by “palmas”, the complicated cross rhythmic handclapping.

The majority of Spanish pop is very strongly influenced by flamenco; bands and artists such as, El Barrio, Nina Pastori(who sang to the last pope in Rome last year),Andy and Lucas , Estopa and Sergio Contreras are all regularly in the charts with flamenco based songs.

Flamenco fusion with jazz and other styles such as hip hop –the singer Haze for example- are also popular.

Dancing is an essential part of Flamenco. Modern artists such as Sara Baras perform all round the world to large audiences and every village and town in Andalucía has a flamenco dancing school.

The Japanese are hooked on flamenco dancing as well! One of the main elements of the dancing is the vigorous tapping of the shoes (tacones) and the movement of the fingers and hands. Exquisite!

The more traditional style” canto hondo” is still very popular particularly with the older generations , in flamenco “penas”(societies) ,at festivals and in local bars and barrios (neighbourhood area).

This is an austere form of song often with just one guitarist sitting on a plain wooden chair and one singer giving a very emotional performance. The late Camaron de la Isla excelled in this dark style in his early years.

Camaron, who was born in San Fernando in Cadiz province and died in 1992, is still the biggest selling flamenco artist in Spain. He started singing at an early age and by 18 was being accompanied by the equally brilliant Paco de Lucia., still one of the world’s best Spanish and flamenco guitar players.

Later in his career Camaron was accompanied by Tomatito and together they produced numerous best selling songs in the various flamenco rhythms of bulerias, alegrias, tangos and fandangos.

His most famous song “Como el Agua” is sung by budding flamenco artists all over Spain! Other more traditional artists include Jose´ Merce´,El Lebrijano and Lole and Manuel..

They say that to be a great flamenco artist you need to have “duende (soul) and if you haven’t got that tough!

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