Friday Night Flamenco 7 – Regional Variations (Málaga)

Of the four major Flamenco palos (Soleá, Seguiriya, Fandango and Tango) we have covered some of the most important features in order to get a hold on the basic concepts. But Andalusia, the land where Flamenco has settled for good, is enormous and each area has developed these palos in its own way, creating their own different versions.

Ronda, Málaga

Today we start our stroll around the principal areas to which they have spread and are going to take a look at some of these local varieties. This week we are in Málaga.

LA RONDEÑA
This is a typical version of the Fandango that comes from the spectacular village of Ronda high in the mountain region of Málaga Province. It is considered by many to be the most ancient of all the Fandangos. The basic sung form consists of verses of four eight syllable lines. This Fandango became well known towards the middle of the nineteenth century and Miguel Borull padre (the father) was the guitarist who really defined its purest and strongest Flamenco style. Later the great Ramón Montoya carried on this tradition. Neither left any recorded works (that we are aware of) but here is a Rondeña from one of the greatest guitarists of recent times, Manolo Sanlúcar.

La Rondeña can also be danced and sung. Here is an example.

LA BANDOLÁ
Is another Málaga variation of the Fandango closely related to the Verdiales and Malagueñas. It is slower and is not danced. It is sung by a solo singer accompanied only by a guitarist. This palo is not well known outside Andalusia and in our opinion deserves a wider audience.

LOS VERDIALES
Are a sung and danced form of the Fandango that have their origin in the celebrations in the villages of the Málaga countryside. They are performed by groups of musicians, singers and dancers known as Pandas de Verdiales whose individual members are often referred to as Tontos or fools because the Feast Day on which they are predominantly performed is December 28th – The Feast of the Holy Innocents – which in Spain is the equivalent of our April Fool’s Day. These being popular festivals, it’s hard to find good quality recordings but here’s an example.

JABERAS
This form was most popular at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Another variation of the Fandango, its origin is attributed to two sisters who sold beans (habas) in the streets of Málaga. In Andalusia the H (which is silent in Spanish) is often pronounced due to the influence of the Arab language, hence the use of the J (phoneme: x) at the beginning of this word. It is melodic but requires a strong voice and is regarded as a true test of a singer’s ability. Here is a fine example from Antonia Contreras.

Next week: Regional Variations (Granada)

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8 thoughts on “Friday Night Flamenco 7 – Regional Variations (Málaga)

    • There is cheerier stuff out there, but the Málaga take on the Fandango is admittedly quite melancholy as well as being one of the purest forms. We’ll have plenty of variations in later posts and you’ll see the variety.

  1. This has been my favourite set so far. I have come across Manolo Sanlucar’s recordings before, but have never had the privilege of watching him whilst listening. He is a fabulous guitarist. It would be easy to describe him as a typical flamenco guitarist, but they all have to be technically perfect. However, Sanlucar’s playing has a type of emotion and soul that just seems to click with me.

    Video 2 has everything; great music, amazing vocalist and tremendous musicians. The solo male dancer, to me, expresses the blues in movement and rhythm, but is then joined by a troupe of female dancers who are every bit as good as he is. And who cares if they are not all the same dress size? They can DANCE!

    La Bandola was beautiful and much too short.

    Los Verdiales was a revelation. Apart from the usual high standard of musicianship and choreography, it reminded me of English Morris Dancing. There were some differences, but the steps, the pairings, the routine and the ribbons were redolent of the English genre. Should that be a surprise considering that ‘Morris Dancing’ comes from ‘Moorish Dancing’?

    The Jaberas again consisted of virtuousos, but what a fantastic pairing. I don’t know what to say other than it was beautiful.

    • Wow! Thanks! The Verdiales certainly are a step outside the “typical” Flamenco style but perhaps only serve to show how universal dance is as an art form and how wide ranging the genre we call Flamenco can be.

      Mrs Maki insists I thank you again for your comments.

  2. Hola Maki, this is the first week I’ve been able to sit down and enjoy your Friday flamenco offering. It’s particularly interesting for me this week, as the only time I ever went to Spain we flew in to Malaga during a fiesta, and the town was full with groups of little girls dancing flamenco (it seemed that every dancing school for miles around was participating and it was SPECTACULAR).
    I know fandango as a Portuguese folk dance – I used to tap dance as a kid, so I’m enticed by any kind of dance where you are encouraged to make a noise, be it clog dancing, flamenco or tap – so I’m off to hunt down your previous post on fandango.

    Muchas gracias!

    • Debby,

      Thanks, I know how difficult it is for you to find time for the ‘Spill and am flattered you have chosen us this week!

      Try the Alegrías and the Soleá posts for some good, noisy dancing! You are going to love our post on percussion and zapateado!

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