Flamenco is a style of music and dance which is native to several regions of southern Spain.
Along with its Romani origins, Spanish, Byzantine, Sephardic and Moorish elements have often been cited as influences in the development of flamenco. It has frequently been asserted that these influences coalesced near the end of the reconquista, in the 15th century. The origins of the word flamenco are unclear. It was not recorded until the late 18th century.
Flamenco is popularly depicted as being the music of Andalusian gitanos (gypsies) but historically its roots are in mainstream Andalusian society, in the latter half of the 18th century.[note 1] Other regions, notably Extremadura and Murcia, have also contributed to the development of flamenco, and many flamenco artists have been born outside the gitano community. Latin American and especially Cuban influences have also contributed, as evidenced in the dances of “Ida y Vuelta”.
On November 16, 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The Golden Age
During the Golden Age of Flamenco, between 1869–1910, flamenco developed rapidly in cafés cantantes, a new type of venue offering ticketed public performances. Dancers became a public attraction. Guitar players supporting the dancers increasingly gained a reputation, and so flamenco guitar as an art form was born. Silverio Franconetti, a sailor of Italian descent is said to have been the first “encyclopedic” singer, that is, the first able to sing well in all palos, instead of specializing as was usual at the time. He opened his own café cantante, where he sang and invited other artists to perform, and many other venues of this kind were created in Andalusia and Spain.
Early flamenco commentators such as Demófilo claimed that this period was the start of the commercial debasement of flamenco. The traditional flamenco fiesta was small (fewer than 20 people) and organic – there was no telling when it would begin or end, if the artists invited would even turn up, or at what hour they will perform. By contrast, the café cantante offered set performances at set hours and top artists were contracted to perform. For some, this was crass commercialism, while for others it stimulated creativity and technical competence.
In fact, most flamenco forms now considered “traditional” were created or developed during this café cantante phase or have been attributed to singers of the period, including El Loco Mateo, El Nitri, Rojo el Alpargatero, Enrique el Mellizo, Paquirri El Guanté, or La Serneta.
In the 19th century, at the height of the Romantic movement, the “romance” of flamenco seized the middle class imagination of Europe. Composers across the continent wrote musical scores and operas to what they thought were flamenco themes, which they invariably associated with the Gitanos. Seeing a flamenco show became an essential part of any trip to Spain, even in regions outside of Andalusia that had very different musical traditions.
In 1922, one of Spain’s greatest writers, Federico García Lorca, and renowned composer Manuel de Falla, organized the Concurso de Cante Jondo, a festival dedicated to cante jondo (“deep song”), to stimulate interest in “uncommercial” styles of flamenco, which were falling into disuse. The initiative made little difference.
Vicente Amigo Paco Cepero Tonino Baliardo gypsy kings Manitas de Plata
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