Flamenco

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Flamenco
Stylistic origins
Cultural originsAndalusia (Spain)
Typical instruments
Subgenres
New flamenco (nuevo flamenco)
Fusion genres
Flamenco chill (with downtempo)
Other topics
 
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Flamenco
Stylistic origins
Cultural originsAndalusia (Spain)
Typical instruments
Subgenres
New flamenco (nuevo flamenco)
Fusion genres
Flamenco chill (with downtempo)
Other topics

Flamenco (Spanish pronunciation: [flaˈmeŋko]) is a form of Spanish folk music and dance from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. It includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance) and palmas (handclaps). First mentioned in literature in 1774, the genre grew out of Andalusian and Romani music and dance styles.[1][2][3] Flamenco is often associated with the Romani people of Spain (Gitanos) and a number of famous flamenco artists are of this ethnicity. Flamenco was first recorded in the late 18th century but the genre underwent a dramatic development in the late 19th century.[4]

In recent years flamenco has become popular all over the world and is taught in many countries: in Japan there are more academies than there are in Spain.[5][6] On November 16, 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.[7]

Etymology[edit]

There are many assertions as to the use of the name flamenco as a musical term (summarized below) but no solid evidence for any of them.[8] The word was not recorded as a musical and dance term until the late 18th century.

Outside the musical context, the Spanish word flamenco can mean "flamingo" – referring to the bird, but originally meaning "flame-coloured" – but also "Flemish", i.e. someone or something related to Flanders. The (predominantly Flemish) courtiers of Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (Carlos I of Spain) were known for their colourful dresses and florid and exaggerated displays of courtesy, but also for their generally arrogant and boisterous behaviour. While no direct connection can be shown, the word flamenco came to be used for arrogant or flamboyant behaviour in general, which then may have come to be applied to the Gitano players and performers.[9]

A theory proposed by Andalusian historian Blas Infante in his 1933 book Orígenes de lo Flamenco y Secreto del Cante Jondo or "flahencon", meaning "collection of songs", suggests that the word flamenco comes from the Hispano-Arabic term fellah mengu, meaning "expelled peasant"; Infante argued that this term referred to the ethnic Andalusians of the Islamic faith, the Moriscos, who in order to avoid forced exile and religious persecution, joined with the Roma newcomers.[10][11]

The settings[edit]

Corral de la Morería, Madrid
Students at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City perform flamenco for Cultural Week

Flamenco occurs in four settings in the main - in the juerga, in small-scale cabaret, in concert venues and in the theatre, though a 'zambra' or spontaneous, and, for the most part 'Roma' celebration, can occur outside any place a tourist or 'expert on flamenco' would be likely to happen on it (and also quite without reference to musicologists in advance).

Palos[edit]

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 although some are rarely performed; only about a dozen of these palos are commonly played.[12] Some are sung unaccompanied while others usually 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.

Palos 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.[citation needed] Cante jondo has clear traces of Arabic and Spanish folk melodies, as well as vestiges of Byzantine, Christian and Jewish religious music.[13]

Music[edit]

Structure[edit]

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.[14] In some palos, these falsetas are also played with certain structure 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.[15]

Harmony[edit]

Flamenco uses the modern Phrygian mode (modo frigio), or a harmonic version of that scale with a major 3rd degree, in addition to the major and minor scales commonly used in modern western music. The Phrygian mode occurs in palos such as soleá, most bulerías, siguiriyas, tangos and tientos.

Descending E Phrygian scale in flamenco music, with common alterations in parentheses

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.[16] 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.[17]

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 sharp for tarantas, B for granaínas and A flat for the minera. Montoya also created a new palo as a solo for guitar, the rondeña in C sharp with scordatura. Later guitarists have further extended the repertoire of tonalities, chord positions and scordatura.[18]

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)

Melody[edit]

Dionisio Preciado, quoted by Sabas de Hoces [19] established the following characteristics for the melodies of flamenco singing:

  1. Microtonality: presence of intervals smaller than the semitone.
  2. Portamento: frequently, the change from one note to another is done in a smooth transition, rather than using discrete intervals.
  3. 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.
  4. Use of enharmonic scale. While in equal temperament scales, enharmonics are notes with identical pitch but different spellings (e.g. A flat and G sharp); in flamenco, as in unequal temperament scales, there is a microtonal intervalic difference between enharmonic notes.
  5. Insistence on a note and its contiguous chromatic notes (also frequent in the guitar), producing a sense of urgency.
  6. Baroque ornamentation, with an expressive, rather than merely aesthetic function.
  7. 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.
  8. Most styles express sad and bitter feelings.
  9. 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[edit]

Compás is the Spanish word for metre and time signature in classical music theory. It also refers to the rhythmic cycle, or layout, of a palo.

The compás is fundamental to flamenco. Without it, there is no flamenco. Compás is most often translated as rhythm but it demands far more precise interpretation than other Western styles 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. Changes of chords emphasize the most important downbeats.

Flamenco uses three basic counts or measures: Binary, Ternary and a form of a twelve-beat cycle that is unique to flamenco. There are also free-form styles including, among others, the tonás, saetas, malagueñas, tarantos, and some types of fandangos.

There are three types of 12-beat rhythms, which vary in their layouts, or use of accentuations: soleá, seguiriya and bulería.

  1. 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...
  2. The seguiriya, liviana , serrana, toná liviana, cabales: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 The seguiriya is the same as the soleá but starting on the 8th beat
  3. 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.

The Bulerías is the emblematic palo of flamenco: today its 12-beat cycle is most often played with accents on the 3rd, 7th, 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.

Flamenco Bulerías with emphasis as [12] 1 2 [3] 4 5 [6] 7 [8] 9 [10] 11 - also the rhythm for the song America in West Side Story

Forms of flamenco expression[edit]

Toque (guitar)[edit]

Paco de Lucía, one of the most commercially successful exponents of flamenco.[20]

Interpretion is indicated by:

Cante (song)[edit]

Flamenco performance by the La Primavera[disambiguation needed] group

The origins, history and importance of the cante is covered in the main Wikipedia entry for the cante flamenco. The singer is very passionate.

Baile (dance)[edit]

El baile flamenco is known for its emotional intensity, proud carriage, expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet (cf. tap dance). As with any dance form, many different styles of flamenco have developed.

In the twentieth century, flamenco danced informally at gitano (Roma) weddings and celebrations in Spain was considered the most "authentic" form of flamenco. There is less virtuoso technique in gitano flamenco, but the music and steps are fundamentally the same. The arms are noticeably different to classical flamenco, curving around the head and body rather than extending, often with a bent elbow.

Flamenco, Córdoba

"Flamenco puro" is considered the form of performance flamenco closest to its gitano influences. In this style, the dance is always performed solo, and is improvised rather than choreographed. Some purists frown on castanets (even though they can be seen in many early 20th century photos of flamenco dancers).

Flamenco moves and dancers' traditional costumes, Spain

"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 flamenco. Flamenco has undergone an evolution quite as sophisticated as classical ballet and indeed has both influenced it and been influenced by it, as evidenced by the fusion of the two created by 'La Argentinita' in the early part of the twentieth century and later, without reference to her, by Joaquín Cortés.

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.

"Flamenco nuevo" is a recent style in flamenco, characterized by pared-down costumes (the men often dance bare-chested, and the women in plain jersey dresses). Props such as castanets, fans and shawls are rarely used. Dances are choreographed and include influences from other dance styles.

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 Seville. 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.

Shakira performed this version of the Flamenco during her The Sun Comes Out World Tour before performing Roma/Gitana.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ In the book Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso
  2. ^ Ríos Ruiz notes that the origins and development of Flamenco are well documented: "the theatre movement of sainetes (one-act plays) and tonadillas, popular song books and song sheets, customs, technical studies of dances, and toques, musical scores, newspapers, graphic documents in paintings and engravings...in continuous evolution together with rhythm, the poetic stanzas, and the ambiance". Ríos Ruiz Ayer y hoy del cante flamenco, Ediciones ISTMO, Tres Cantos (Madrid), 1997, ISBN 84-7090-311-X
  3. ^ See the third definition for "flamenco" in the Dictionary of Real Academia Española.
  4. ^ Washabaugh, William (1996). Flamenco: Passion, Politics, and Popular Culture. Oxford, England: Berg Publishers. pp. 38–52. 
  5. ^ Mendoza, Gabriela (2011), "Ser flamenco no es una música, es un estilo de vida", El Diario de Hoy: 52 
  6. ^ En El Salvador la agrupación Alma Flamenca es considerada la máxima representante y pionera de este movimiento musical. Mendoza, Gabriela (2011), "Ser flamenco no es una música, es un estilo de vida", El Diario de Hoy: 52 
  7. ^ El flamenco es declarado Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial de la Humanidad por la Unesco, Yahoo Noticias, 16 de noviembre de 2010, consultado el mismo día.
  8. ^ Harper, Douglas. "flamenco". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  9. ^ Ana Ruiz (2007). Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain. Algora. pp. 165 ff. ISBN 978-0-87586-540-9. 
  10. ^ Infante, Blas (2010). Orígenes de lo Flamenco y Secreto del Cante Jondo (1929–1933). Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía. p. 166. 
  11. ^ Muhammad Ali Herrera (March 2006). "Breve biografía de Blas Infante". Alif Nûn (36). 
  12. ^ Manuel, Peter (2006). Tenzer, Michael, ed. Analytical Studies in World Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 95. 
  13. ^ Rodgers, Eamonn; Rodgers, Valerie (1999). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture. London: Routledge. p. 191. 
  14. ^ Manuel, Peter (2006). Tenzer, Michael, ed. Analytical Studies in World Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 98. 
  15. ^ Martin, Juan. Solo Flamenco Guitar. Mel Bay Publications. p. 48. ISBN 0786664584. 
  16. ^ Manuel, Peter (2006). Tenzer, Michael, ed. Analytical Studies in World Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 96. 
  17. ^ http://www.tristeyazul.com/cronicas/ntc14.htm
  18. ^ "Flamenco. Error. Encuentra el Flamenco. Cante, Guitarra y Baile. Deflamenco.com". deflamenco.com. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  19. ^ "Revista de Folklore". funjdiaz.net. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  20. ^ Koster, Dennis (1 June 2002). Guitar Atlas, Flamenco. Alfred Music Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7390-2478-2. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 

Sources[edit]