Flamenco In Depth

FLAMENCO IN DEPTH

The artform flamenco cannot be pinpointed exactly to a specific people or place, its origins being a mixture, or a fusion of different cultures and ideas together. However we give a lot of credit to the Roma people, a dark-skinned race of people who traveled from northern India into Spain. They not only were expert metal workers but carried with them a tradition of music and dance. They found that Southern Spain, also known as Andalucia, suited them quite well and settled down there to live. In Andalucia, the gypsies were persecuted by the government who passed laws under punishments including death. They prevented them from their nomadic lifestyle, their traditional dress, their occupations, and even their language. The gypsies found they had much in common with the Moriscos (Moorish people), Jews, and Muslims who were also in the process of either being expelled from Spain, assimilated, or killed. Many decided to flee, but still many were left who took refuge in the unhabited mountain regions of Andulacia. The bond, or at least proximity of these people contributed to their culture and music.

Combined with Spanish folk music, the artform flamenco, similar yet very different from what it is today, began to develop. The Andalucian people performed lively fiesta music as celebrations in orchestras accompanied by castanets, drums, and tambourines; the gypsies in contrast were performing more private music kept within close knit family circles with songs to express their suffering, accompanied by handclapping, finger snapping, and the rapping of knuckles on table tops. It is now a very arguable topic about what is "true flamenco". People have many different opinions about this. "True flamenco", according to some gypsies, is something that only they can experience, only they can really interpret and feel. These gypsies are often cynical of outsiders trying to learn flamenco, "their art" and look upon them with distaste. Other people just think that "true flamenco" has always been a kind of intimate thing, that you can only really experience in a small gathering, or a juerga. Still others think that flamenco is just personal, regardless of your race or cultural background, and it belongs to everyone.


ADDITIONAL FLAMENCO RESOURCES

General Information

Sal's Flamenco Soapbox:
One of the most comprehensive flamenco research sites.

Oscarnieto.com:
Well written articles about flamenco and extensive flamenco glossary.

Ravenna Flamenco:
A site aimed towards the anglophone flamenco guitarist with informative posts breaking down the common flamenco forms with tips that dancers and singers can find useful as well.

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© Kara Miranda 1998-2017. All rights reserved.