Friday Night Flamenco – The Origins

Carretas Gitanas

We can’t end our exploration of Flamenco without going back to the beginning and talking about the music and cultures that have come together to make Flamenco one of the best known artistic and cultural movements in the world. So we’re going to take a short trip through time trying to find out a little about all the factors that over the ages have influenced and contributed to what today we know as Flamenco. The origins are hard to trace and pin down – a lot of what has been written is based on oral tradition and tales handed from generation to generation (no doubt getting embellished and twisted over the years) – but this is what we’ve found out and we want to share it with you.
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Friday Night Flamenco – A Few More We Couldn’t Leave Out

This is the second of our posts highlighting the work of a number of artists we felt we had to mention before we bring the series to a close. We hope you enjoy it.
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Friday Night Flamenco – A Few We Couldn’t Leave Out

As Friday Night Flamenco draws to a close we are going to round it off with a couple of posts in honour of the artists we have perhaps only mentioned in passing or missed out altogether. It doesn’t feel right to finish without mentioning them. Some of them are artists from a long time ago and despite being an integral part of the history of the genre have only a limited presence on-line. Others are still active. This is the first of two posts, the second will be next Friday (16th December). We will be doing a special post for Christmas Eve and finish the series the following Friday (30th December) with a look at the history and origins of the genre. We hope you have enjoyed the series and thank you all for the interest shown and the informative, inquisitive and challenging comments we have received. We’re currently toying with a few ideas for further posts about music in Spanish
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Friday Night Flamenco – Enrique Morente and family

There is so much we could say about the subject of this week’s post but we’ll keep it short. Enrique Morente, who passed away earlier this year, was a true giant in the Flamenco world in his own right: a Cantaor of no little talent and one of the bravest when it came to experimenting both with form and cross-genre fusion. For that alone he would be remembered with respect and admiration. But there was so much more to the man than that. His investigation of the history of Flamenco, of the roots of the lost forms or palos and the work he did both with his own recordings and those of others to bring them back into the public consciousness and revive their popularity was a major and totally decisive contribution to the resurgence the genre has enjoyed in recent decades. Simply put, without Enrique Morente Flamenco would not have traveled as far as it has in the last thirty years and the debt aficionados such as ourselves and many of today’s most successful performers owe him is immeasurable.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Arcángel

This week we’ve decided to have a look at the career so far of one of our favourite contemporary Cantaores, Francisco José Arcángel Ramos “Arcángel”. Arcángel has worked his way up through the ranks and now enjoys considerable success and respect in Flamenco circles and beyond. This is, perhaps, in many ways the not entirely surprising story of the rise and consolidation of a surprisingly remarkable talent.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Different routes to recognition

This week we are going to take a look at two more cantaores who are enjoying considerable success both commercially and, in our opinion, artistically. Two very different artists who have won Grammy Awards this year. Both of whom have deep Flamenco roots but, like so many of our favourite artists, have looked beyond traditional horizons and tried their hand at other genres. Niña Pastori’s brand of light, pop-tinged Flamenco has made her famous and led to her being invited to feature on many more mainstream artists’ projects but she still conserves a fine Flamenco voice and considerable “duende” when singing some of the more traditional palos. Diego “El Cigala” draws on a deeper Flamenco heritage and both his voice and delivery have at times been compared favourably with the great Camarón himself and yet he has been involved in at least two of the most memorable cross genre projects of the last decade. We hope you enjoy finding out a little more about them or revisiting their work.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Breaking the mold

This week we’re moving back a little to take a look at the careers so far of two artists who have been willing to assume change and new challenges, looking for new paths and byways for Flamenco to explore.
We’re going to have a more detailed look at the work of the great Cantaora Mayte Martín (who we have already seen singing a Vidalita in our post on Cantes de Ida y Vuelta 3) and that of Belén Maya the Bailaora: two brave women who, with an open mind and no little talent, have challenged and pushed the limits of traditional Flamenco.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Favourites this year

After last week’s post in the company of Los Farrucos, we thought we’d slow things down a little this week and spend some time in the company of a couple of young singers who have a lot to offer and are causing something of a sensation this year. The first, Sandra Carrasco, we have seen before in our post on Fandangos: the second, Pablo Alborán, is a young singer-songwriter from Málaga whose work probably falls more into the category of Latin Popular Music or Flamenco Pop, but whose voice (especially the quiebros) betrays a deep rooted Andalusian heritage and whose collaborations with Flamenco artists will hopefully make him one to watch over the next few years.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Los Farrucos: My dance is my legacy

Today we are going to talk about a family whose prowess, art and Gypsy heritage begin with the grandfather and have been handed down through subsequent generations. A family that reflects and embodies many of the elements of the true ethnic pride and identity that have always characterised the Gypsy race. In this post we are going to get to know Los Farrucos, whose name, as we have mentioned before, comes from the Arabic “Farouq”, which means “brave”. This is a long post (we have tried to trim it down but couldn’t leave anything else out) so please take your time over it.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Two Rocíos

Rocío Márquez

Rocío Molina

After last week’s trip through time in the company of the castanets we’re coming back up to date this week with a look at two of the brightest talents on the current Flamenco scene. As well as sharing enormous and exciting talent they share a name: Rocío. Rocío is a common girl’s name in Andalusia. There is an annual pilgrimage, known as El Rocío, to the shrine of Nuestra Señora del Rocío in Almonte in Huelva. The Sevillanas that are sung and danced along the way are known as Sevillanas Rocieras. So, maybe it isn’t so surprising that they share a name. What is surprising is how much both have achieved whilst still in their mid-twenties. We hope you enjoy this post, in which we will try to explain just why we are so excited by these artists – by what they have done so far and by the prospect of further treasures to come.
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Friday Night Flamenco – ¡Castanets!

Today we’re going to jump back in time to speak about las castañuelas (castanets), an instrument that has a strong influence not only in Flamenco but also in the most traditional and classical forms of Spanish Dance. As we are going to do an overview of the use of castanets in general, we’ve tried to keep it short and at the same time to avoid leaving out the most relevant examples of the extremely broad variety of musical styles this instrument is used in.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Paco de Lucía

It’s a real challenge to write about Paco de Lucía because, although he’s a household name well beyond the realms of Flamenco, the range and variety of styles he has covered is so wide that it’s impossible to condense it all into one post. We are going to do our best, however, to make sure that this week’s offering reflects at least the essence and central pillars of his incomparable body of work.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Family Sagas (1)

To speak of the Montoya family is to speak of art, tradition, legend and character. The Montoya family tree has many branches and today we’re going to take a look at just one as an example of how flamenco traditions are passed on from generation to generation. This is a long post but there’s no way to make it shorter without losing its essence. Settle in, then, for a chance to get to know la Familia Montoya a little better.

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Friday Night Flamenco – Solo Artists (3)

In the third of our series on solo artists, we’re going to take a look at a leading Bailaora and one of my favourite Cantaores. Get ready for a master class on the use of both El Mantón de Manila and La Bata de Cola from Matilde Coral and for some fine tanguillos and bulerías in the mischievous company of the incomparable Chano Lobato.
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Friday Night Flamenco – Solo Artists (1)

Welcome back to Friday Night Flamenco. After our stroll through the different palos, or styles, before the summer, we felt it was time to pay tribute to some of the most influential solo artists who bring them to life, many of whom, of course, are personal favourites. Cantaores, guitarists and other musicians. This week we thought we’d start with a guitarist and a pianist.

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Friday Night Flamenco 16 – A Celebration

Today is my birthday and Mrs Maki has insisted that this post should be specially for me! She has chosen a series of clips by my favourite artists, not only as a birthday present, but also as a way of looking back over the series so far.

As we mentioned last week, we’ve seen all of the major palos currently sung and danced in the World of Flamenco: here’s a map of the geographical area we’ve visited and below there’s a chart showing the Provinces of Andalusia, as well as Extremadura and Murcia, with a list of the palos that have developed there and are traditionally associated with each area.

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Friday Night Flamenco 15 – Sierra Morena

To round off our trip through the different Palos, today we are stopping off in The Sierra Morena to take a look at a number of important styles that form part of the very origins of Flamenco. This is not the end of the series but is the last stop in our journey through the different Palos and regions that are part of the origin, development and current reality of Flamenco culture.

A map showing the Sierras crossing Andalusia.

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Friday Night Flamenco 13 – Flamenco in Cadiz (1)

This week we’re back in Cadiz. There is general consensus that the Province of Cadiz and especially the area around Jerez de La Frontera must be considered the cradle of Flamenco as we know it today. Any list you could make of Cantaores, Bailaores, Guitarists and other flamenco artists and styles would inevitably show the importance of the area. The styles have developed and progressed all over Andalusia and beyond of course, but Cadiz is where most palos started.

We are going to take a more detailed look at many of the styles that originated and are still sung and danced in Cadiz.
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Friday Night Flamenco 12 – Cantes de Ida y Vuelta (3)

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at the forms known as Cantes de Ida y Vuelta in this installment we are heading south to Argentina. A land famous, of course, for its Tango. But Argentina has much more to offer than the Tango and we are going to concentrate on other forms that influenced twentieth century flamenco equally profoundly.

A Map Of The River Plate Area

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Friday Night Flamenco 10 – Cantes de Ida y Vuelta (1)

A group of singing styles that have been well-known since the middle of the nineteenth century and are flamenco treatments of folk music from the Caribbean and central and south America are known as Cantes de Ida y Vuelta (Ida y vuelta means round-trip). This name comes from the fact that these styles originated from the music that traveled to the Americas with the Conquistadores, which was adapted to the styles of the region and then came back to Spain in the voices of the soldiers and sailors returning to Andalusia and later courtesy of the Flamenco artists that visited these countries. This week we are going to take a look at some of the styles that found their way back from Cuba.

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Friday Night Flamenco 9 – Cantes de Las Minas

This week we have moved east and out of Andalusia into the Region of Murcia. We are going to take a look at the Cantes de Las Minas or Cantes de Levante. The silver, lead and iron ore mines in the mountains that run from the city of Cartagena to the town of La Unión have been the key factor in the economic development of this small, fertile province nestled between Andalusia and Valencia. Tourism may well be the key today – we bet a few of you have heard of La Manga – but before there were plenty of visitors. Cartagena was originally founded by the Carthaginians, conquered by the Romans and was later an Arab kingdom in alliance with those of Córdoba and Granada.

To give you an idea of the area we’re talking about. Here’s a photo of the mountains (as seen from the Mar Menor):

and a map of the mountain region:

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