Flamenco roots


Undoubtedly attributable to the Gitanos, singing as a means of empathic transfer and not as an aesthetic goal

Flamenco origin - Flamenco history - Flamenco art - The name Flamenco - Flamenco palos

Spanish Gitanos Romani people (source Bibliotekar.ru)For the Gitanos, the significance of their singing is not related to musical sophistication, but to the extent in the way the singer can strike or touch the audience. More often, this happens through a kind of primitive, rough style. Singing as a means of empathic transfer and not as an aesthetic goal in itself. Since the traditional Gypsy had no interest in writing, their songs were their only tools to orally pass on historical facts but also their personal feelings and emotions. This astonishing, invisible and immeasurable "touching" of the audience by the songs is so typical for authentic flamenco music. When that “touching” contact occurs, both the flamenco artists and audience are taken by duende, enthusiasm, indefinable charm or enchantment, keeping Flamenco alive to the present day. With these two elements, their songs and their duende, the Gitanos have created the foundation for flamenco music. While the musical aspect of flamenco was not the main concern of the Gitanos, the aesthetical qualities of flamenco music were largely contribution by the local Spanish population.

In addition the local Spanish music was influenced by maritime routes, back and forth from the southern Spanish coasts to Africa and Central America. This led to a specific repertoire within flamenco music, singing of ida y vuelta, introducing faster rhythms and cheerful tones. These three elements: the expressive power of the Gitano singing, the Moorish sonority and musicality of the various southern Spanish folk songs, were combined by the Gitanos in the mid 18th century. In the next 100 years, the Gitanos transferred all this into a personal musical language for their own use within their own family or clan. This resulted in a rich and diverse art form that we now call flamenco music. By the end of the 19th century a more or less defined form of flamenco music had been established.

Flamenco statue in Seville (source: Jgomezcarroza)The roots of flamenco music as a unique art form of personal expression, are undoubtedly attributable to the Gitanos while the musical form of flamenco evolved itself as a continuous process of interaction with influences from the outside. For that reason, the essence of the authentic flamenco music is singing. Originally dance was no more than a personal expression, evoked by the singing or the intensity of the moment. Only in the 19th century, the dance evolved into a more autonomous part of flamenco music. Flamenco guitar playing is clearly an addition from the 18th century Spanish musical culture, but the Gitanos quickly picked up the guitar and self-developed a guitar style to support the typical accompaniment of their singing. By the work of some early great flamenco guitar players like Ramon Montoya, flamenco guitar playing became rapidly very popular on a global scale. The strongest influences evident in the evolution of Flamenco music can be traced from Punjabi singing of India, Persian Zyriab song form, Mozarabic forms such as Zarchyas and Zambr, Classical Andalusian Orchestras of the Islamic Empire, Arabic Zayal which themselves are the foundation for Fandango, Andalusian regional folk and Western African influences via the slaves of the Caribbeans, Central and South American colonies.