I’ve met people who don’t love flamenco, but do love flamenco guitar. And I totally understand. I became hooked on flamenco largely because of flamenco guitar. This is how it goes: you start listening profusely to Paco de Lucía’s Entre dos aguas and next thing you know, you’re spending 90% of your waking time thinking about, practising and listening to flamenco. Just like that!
Let me paint a picture. You’re so excited about seeing flamenco in Spain that you want to whet your appetite by reading about or watching YouTube videos of the artists you’ll be seeing on the night. So you start reading their names and they look like this: Antonia González “la Pescaílla Chica”, Lucía Álvarez “la Piñona”, José Carmona “Rapico”, Natalia Delmar “la Serrata”, Antonio “el Ciervo”, “Chispas”… —and you start wondering… “What’s with the quotation marks?”
Well, they’re the performers’ nicknames. Because, the thing is, nicknames are very common in flamenco. (more…)
I have a confession to make. As a kid, I had this odd pastime where I would look at my watch to see the seconds count down, then look away for a couple of minutes while counting the seconds in my head, and then look back at my watch to see whether I’d stayed in time. Sounds nuts? Maybe.
A couple of decades later, I discovered flamenco, and realised that my addiction to counting seconds was actually my love of rhythm. And you can’t beat flamenco when it comes to rhythm, which in the world of flamenco we call the compás. The flamenco compás is key. It’s flamenco’s underlying driving force, its metre, and it’s oh-so-important —and can be oh-so-difficult to master. (more…)
So, what is flamenco? That’s a big question. Let me give you a brief-ish answer. Flamenco is folk music from Spain. It developed in Andalusia over centuries, and took its current form in the 18th century. Its origins are still murky, as there isn’t much documentation about the early forms this music took.