Tuning in to Traditional Spanish Music: The Flamenco

Tuning in to Traditional Spanish Music: The Flamenco

Tuning in to Traditional Spanish Music: The Flamenco

by July 30, 2017

For most of us, when we think of Spanish music, music videos with Enrique Iglesias and Shakira come to mind. Yet, traditional Spanish music has a different sound altogether. Listen carefully for a twang of guitar and a beat to dance to – then you have found traditional Spanish music: the flamenco.

Spain has an incredibly rich history of music. The country itself comprises of many regions and due to a long history of trade, it was influenced by cultures from all over the world. Most people associated Spain with flamenco music, but the reality is that Spain has diverse styles, each as unique as the next.

Swinging with Flamenco from Andalusia

Flamenco is possibly the most popular ‘traditional’ Spanish music. This genre arose from Andalusia and has been popularised outside Spain as ‘gipsy’ music. It includes “cante” (singing), “baile” (dance), “toque” (guitar playing) and “palmas” (hand clapping).

Actually, the flamenco is said to have three forms: guitar playing (“guitarra”), song (“cante”), and dance (“baile”). The dance style flourished in Andalucia, Extremadura and Murcia.

Flamenco originated in the southern regions of Spain, but it’s thought to be influenced by many world cultures, including Latin American, Cuban, and Jewish traditions.  It bears resemblance to northern African and Middle Eastern music and was recently declared one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

The dance is fuelled with fiery passion and it is no wonder that Spanish is also considered the language of love. It is sensual, ranging from staccato to smooth movements. Women and men get dressed up in bold, colourful outfits and heeled shoes. Traditional flamenco dancers rarely received any formal training. Instead, flamenco was passed down from friends, relatives, and neighbours.

Emotion is central to the dance, and facial expressions become highly important. As the dancers perform, they may also clap their hands or kick their feet. Many dancers also snap small percussion handheld instruments called “castanets.”