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Flamenco is a song, music and dance style originating from the gypsies in Andalusia, Spain. Originally, flamenco consisted of unaccompanied singing (cante). Later the songs were accompanied by guitar (toque), hand clapping (palmas) and dance (baile); the toque and baile are also often found without the cante, although the song remains at the heart of the flamenco tradition. More recently other instruments like the cajón (a box used as a percussion instrument from Peru), palillos (castanets), and the bass guitar have been introduced.

Music of Spain
Balearic Islands
Canary Islands
Castile, Madrid and Leon
Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias
Navarre and La Rioja
Genres Classical and Opera - Folk and Flamenco - Popular
Timeline and Samples

The origin of the name flamenco is a much-debated topic. Some people suggest an Arabic origin for the name, but it seems more likely that it is of Spanish origin and originally meant Flemish.

Flamenco Forms

Flamenco cante consists of a number of traditional (and not-so-traditional) forms, with characteristic rhythmic and harmonic structures. The rhythm (compas) is perhaps the most fundamental distinguishing feature of the different flamenco forms. Songs are composed of several "phrases" or falsetas with rhythms defined by the song form.

Some of the forms are sung unaccompanied, while others usually have a guitar and sometimes other accompaniment. Some forms are danced while others traditionally are not. Amongst both the songs and the dances, some are traditionally the preserve of men and others of women, while still others would be performed by either sex. Many of these traditional distinctions are now breaking down; for example the Farruca is traditionally a man's dance, but is now commonly performed by women too.

Cante; Classifications

The classification of flamenco forms is not entirely uncontentious, but a common and convenient first classification is into three groups. The deepest, most serious forms are known as cante jondo (or cante grande), while relatively light, frivolous forms are called cante chico. Forms which do not fit into either category but lie somewhere between them are classified as cante intermedio. Many flamenco artists, including some considered to be amongst the greatest, have specialised in a single flamenco form.

Cantés of Flamenco
Canté JondoCanté IntermedioCanté Chico

Flamenco Artists

Flamenco occurs in two types of settings. The first, the Juerga is an informal gathering where people are free to join in creating music. This can include dancing, singing, violin, Palmas (hand clapping), or simply pounding in rhythm on an old orange crate. Flamenco, in this context, is very dynamic; It adapts to the local talent, instrumentation, and mood of the audience. One tradition remains firmly in place: Singers are the most important part; dancers follow the singing; instruments follow the dancing.

The professional concert is more formal and organized. The most common performance usually has only one or more instruments (guitar is almost always at the center). Dancers are the next addition, followed by singers.

It is rare to find an artist who has mastered performing in both settings.

Flamenco Artists
Vicente AmigoCamarón de la IslaCarmen Amaya
ChicueloAntonio Chacón;La Argentina
Paco de LuciaChocolate (Flamenco Singer)
(Antonio Núñes Montoya)
La Joselito
(Carmen Gómez)
Luis Maravilla
(Luis Lopez Tejera)
Jose MerceAntonio Gades
Carlos MontoyaTomás Pavón;
Ramón Montoya;Niña de los Peines;
(Pastora Pavón)
MoraitoManuel Torres
Paco Peña;Antonio Mairena
Pepe Habichuela
(Agustin Castellón Campos)
Paco Serrano

Sounds of Flamenco