Initially, flamenco guitar music was just used as part of the rhythm given to the cantaor and the bailaor. Both were the main characters of the performance and the music was secondary.
However, as the cafés cantantes became more and more popular during the 19th century, flamenco guitarists started to be considered indispensable. As time went by and artists’ professionalism rose, guitarists performed solo as well, proving to the audience that musicians could also be virtuosos in the flamenco world.
The flamenco guitar is slightly different than the classical guitar. It is lighter and it produces a very particular sound, more percussive and austere than the classical guitar.
Obviously, an instrument with such peculiar specificities has to be played following different techniques, starting with the way the guitar is held. Therefore, the guitarist or tocaor (from the Spanish verb tocar, meaning to touch or to play) combines techniques from the classical school, flamenco unique patterns and, finally, improvisation.
In order to acquire these techniques and to develop the art of improvisation, the guitarist spends endless hours learning routines, practicing and listening to others. It’s the only way to follow the cantaor – who’s the real leader of the cuadro, with the same spontaneity, instinct and ability than the cantaor‘s one.
Nowadays, flamenco guitar music can be combined with other music resources: clapping hands, the cajón and the castañuelas. Nevertheless, a long time ago the espectáculos flamencos were performed without a guitar or any other instrument. The cantaores were the soul, music and words of the show.
Actually, this is not surprising if you take into account that the aim of flamenco is to express the deepest emotions. Hence, flamenco guitar music must follow the spirit and emotions while interpreting and convening such feelings.
Flamenco Guitar: The Soul Of Flamenco Music
There are confronted opinions on what is the most important element of flamenco. While some experts claim that the songs, and most particularly the lyrics, are essential, others affirm that without the introduction of the guitar, flamenco would be just too arid and harsh.
Again, flamenco is all about emotions, most of the time related to drama, uncorresponded love and even death. As a consequence, the way a cantaor interprets his role and conveys the song’s message is crucial. On the other hand, the guitar notes softens the heartbreaking cries of the cantaor and balances the musical composition.
After attending to a handful of flamenco art shows with foreign friends, most of them concluded that the cantaor‘s singing is very dramatic and that they were glad to listen to some great flamenco guitar music at the same time. I often ask them, especially when it’s their first time, if it is because they didn’t like it. The answer is invariably the same: “Not at all. I just wish I could understand what they sing!“.
A full flamenco experience involves feeling the music, the dance and the lyrics. Nevertheless, I have to warn you: it’s extremely difficult to understand cantaores. Their accent, pronunciation and vocabulary is very peculiar. Even I have a hard time trying to catch the whole thing!
So don’t give up, concentrate on the music and let it flow. The moment you shake and notice the spectacle is giving you goosebumps, you are perceiving the duende. That’s exactly what flamenco performers want you to feel.
If you do, they’ve succeeded. If not… well, maybe next time.
Experience The Best Flamenco In Seville
Feel the passion and energy of Flamenco that come alive nightly! Enjoy a 1.5-hour show in which you will get to see how this universal art works and understand why all local and foreigners love this traditional dance.
You’ll experience flamenco sounds, rhythms and dances in a very intimate and authentic place. The artists will make sure you feel their passion and will captivate you with their deep emotions. It will be a night you will never forget…