Sobre guitarras‎ > ‎

About the flamenco

Date: Tue, 03 Jan 1995 18:33:00 EST 

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) 
FLAMENCO: THE EARLY YEARS 
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'9 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 todaywave 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; in 
relatively modern times, the union of the two gave us today's flamenco. 
As early as 35,000-15,000 3C, 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, Cldiz 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 C 
major 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 C6rdoba 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, nd 
roll %bout on the ground. Many songs that later bec-me 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 
mu8ic of this period, but certainly the music would resemble some of the 
music that exists today in parts of North Africa or th 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 (b ds) 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 cal6, 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 
Andalucfa, (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 Andalucfa 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 Andalucfa, 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 mjor 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 connec- 
tion 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 
complexrhythms and cross-rhythms, a preference for a nasal or even harsh 
tone, both vocally snd instrumentally, and an emphasis on the emo- 
tional 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 
move- ments 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 Andalucfa 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 differ- ent dances in the different regions of Spain, 
including the jot- of the northern provinces and the many variations 
found in the provinces of Andalucfa. 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 accom- psnied 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 suffer- ing - hunger, prison, and death. 
The accompaniment for the song and dance was the rhythm ofhandclapping, 
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 them- selves, for 
Cervantes (1547-1616), in his NovelasEjemplares, wrote of gypsies 
perforing seguidillas, jacaras, romances, and zarabandas. It would, 
therefore, appear that gypsies were incorporating some of the Andalucian 
dances and per- forming them for non-gypsies. 
Two other influences affected Andalucian music as it pre- pared 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 Pen- insula. There are still black families living in 
Andalucfa 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 phe- nomenon 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 out- side influence, 
incorporated and transformed this music into new forms. The jotas of 
Arag6n became the jotas de Cadiz (much later, the alegrfas), while a 
dance from Galicia would eventually become the farruca. The other side 
of the pic- ture 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 developet 
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 Catiz danced an in- decent dance called the manguidoy to 
the rhythm of hand- clapping; he al80 mentioned guitars, castanets, ant 
rough- voicet singing of polo. Other references speak of the taconeo 
(heelwork) ant the seguitillas gitanas. (The seguidillas were live}y 
songs, relatet to the sevillanas, not the profount gypsy cante of totay 
that has a similar name.) By 1800, references indicate 24 dances that 
were supposedly performed by gypsies; most of those no longer exit, 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 segui- dillas (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 men- tions 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 it- self, however, was not yet called 
flamenco. The word "flamenco" has long mystified historians who have 
demon- strated 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, ant Luxemburg) 
an entire Flemish court; in atdition, Spain occupied Flanders until 
1648. Other origins have been suggested: that because singers in the 
court were Flemish, the word came to be asso- ciated 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 ant the gypsies, who were still coming in- to 
Spain, were includet; 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 in- cludes one calledlUn 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, ant corritas (also called romances ant 
derivet from the ancient ballats of northern Spain, motifiet by Arabic 
meloties, and guardet and spread through the south by the gypsies; this 
tradition survives only in remote areas of Andalucfa, although it has 
been resurrectet somewhat recently). Also mentionet 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 o 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, espe- cially in 
groups called pandas de verdiale8 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 al- ready 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 ele- ment 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 im- portant 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 impor- tant 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 214, 314, or 
6|8 meter; it was often accom- panied 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 afici6n, 
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 
compoitions. In neighborhood patios, country inns, and tiny tJverns, 
flamenco made it8 first public appearance and began its emergence from 
the private, almost religious position it h-d held in the gypsy f 
milies. 
The earliest known caf de cante, as the first flamenco 
nightclub were called opened in Sevilla in 1842. For the 
firt time flamenco arti8ts were paid on a regular ba 
Several more clubs opened, but then all were clo8ed down, and it wa- 
another twenty years before the great cantsor, Silverio Franconetti, 
returnet from South Americ- ant opened the firt cafe cant-nte in Sevilla 
and offici-lly beg-n the "Golten Age." The interest in cante ant baile 
flamenco must have been builting, becaue after Silverio openet his cafe 
in 1860, the public repone rerulted in a virtual explosion of similar 
cafes throughout Andalucfa - sometime seven or eight in one city - and 
even in other part8 of Spain (espe- cially 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 per- formers, mot 
often singers, who were hired as the main attractions. The opportunity 
offered by the cafes en- couraged many new artit to become professional. 
These artists tended to specialize in a few cante and, in doing 
so, created new variations ant peron-l 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 meloty ant the words each time he 
sings and even sing a number of different styles within a ingle 
performance of a particular cante.) 
The period of the "Golden Age," which la ted until about 1910, gave U8 
most of totay'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 1950'8. From the America came new music 
forms that spread from Spain's port towns to the ret of Andalucfa ant 
were aggimilatet 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 colombiana8 from Columbia, ant the guajira 
ant rumba from Cuba. The flamenco repertoire wa also increased by the 
mixing of the gypsy and Antalucian cante: The fantango evolved into new 
and more profound forms such as the tarantas and the malagueaas, which 
gra- dually lost their rhythmic musical accompaniment and were 
transferred from dance songs into serious cantes for lis- tening. The 
alegrfas, originally the jotas de Cadiz, appeared in new forms called 
romeras, mirabras, and cara- coles. 
Another effect of the cafe cantante period was the break- ing down of 
regional barriers. Before themeach province had developed its own styles 
of cante: In the gypsy neigh- borhood of Triana (Sevilla), emerged 
styles of tonas, caaas, ant soleares- in the Barrio Santa Marfa (Catiz) 
were developed the forms of alegrfas 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 to- gether, 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 nd 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, Ram6n 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 posi- tions 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 differ- ent 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.
 Date: Tue, 03 Jan 1995 18:37:00 EST 
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. 2)

FLAMENCO: PART II 
THE MODERN ERA 
[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 festival outside of 
Malaga, the guitarist Paco Cepero received as many ovations for his 
guitar playing as did Camaron 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.
Comments