Learn about Flamenco: History and Spanish vocabulary

People all over the world think of flamenco dancers when they think of Spain – but it actually has its origins in Andalucía and is historically unique to this fabulous region of Spain! There is also a lot more to flamenco than just the dance. If you want to learn the dance, you absolutely must understand the meaning and history of the sacred art of flamenco – that way, you can truly channel some of the famous and ancient passion for yourself!   Never fear – AIL Malagaare here! Our short but comprehensive history of flamenco will help you gain the deeper understanding you need – plus, we’ve gathered all the essential Spanish vocabulary so you can speak the language of flamenco too. What more could you want?    The history and origins of flamenco The history of flamenco goes back hundreds of years, and there are records of it as old as 1774. Its exact origins are unknown, but it is commonly accepted as being largely shaped by the gypsy communities in Andalucía, with both Spanish and Arabic influences. A folk musical tradition, flamenco has many different aspects to it, of which dancing (baile) is only one: for example, there is also singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), snapping of fingers (pitos) and clapping hands (palmas).   Even in modern times, flamenco experiences waves of change and […]

People all over the world think of flamenco dancers when they think of Spain – but it actually has its origins in Andalucía and is historically unique to this fabulous region of Spain! There is also a lot more to flamenco than just the dance. If you want to learn the dance, you absolutely must understand the meaning and history of the sacred art of flamenco – that way, you can truly channel some of the famous and ancient passion for yourself!

 

Never fear – AIL Malagaare here! Our short but comprehensive history of flamenco will help you gain the deeper understanding you need – plus, we’ve gathered all the essential Spanish vocabulary so you can speak the language of flamenco too. What more could you want? ????

 

The history and origins of flamenco

The history of flamenco goes back hundreds of years, and there are records of it as old as 1774. Its exact origins are unknown, but it is commonly accepted as being largely shaped by the gypsy communities in Andalucía, with both Spanish and Arabic influences. A folk musical tradition, flamenco has many different aspects to it, of which dancing (baile) is only one: for example, there is also singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), snapping of fingers (pitos) and clapping hands (palmas).

 

Even in modern times, flamenco experiences waves of change and there are many different styles. Known as palos, there are over 50 styles of flamenco, usually divided into 3 categories – the serious cante grande, the lighter cante chico, and the ‘in-between’ cante intermedio.

The different palos can even sound absolutely unique to the trained ear, and have evolved or been influenced by various factors over time. For example, further to its clear Spanish and Arabic origins, the style of cante grande also contains musical references to the Eastern Roman Empire, and to Christian and Jewish prayer songs!

 

In this way, further to being a passionate spectacle with incredible and distinctive music, flamenco also finds its beauty in the fact that it is something of a musical cultural melting pot: its widely-influenced origins and breathtaking passion have always brought together people from all over the world and all backgrounds. It’s no wonder that in 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”!

 

Flamenco vocabulary in Spanish

So now you know all about flamenco – let’s finish off your education with some essential flamenco vocabulary in Spanish!

Bailaor(a) – Flamenco dancer

Baile – Dancing in flamenco

Cajón – A kind of box drum used in flamenco. The player usually sits on top and contributes to the rhythm of the music

Cantaor(a) – Flamenco singer

Cante – Singing in flamenco

Castañuelas – Castanets (small percussion instruments held in the hand, consisting of two shells clicked together)

Contra tiempo –Counter time/rhythm, typical of flamenco. These are produced by stamps of the feet (golpes de pies) in combination with hand claps (palmas)

Duende –A physical/emotional response to the music, where you experience a heightened state of emotion and authenticity

Espectáculo flamenco – Flamenco show

Guitarra flamenca – Flamenco guitar

¡Olé! – A popular cry of encouragement during the performance

Palmas –Accompanying rhythmic hand claps

Palo – Style of flamenco song

Pitos –Accompanying rhythmic finger snaps

Taconeo –Rhythmic motifs, performed with the heels

Toque –Guitar playing in flamenco

 

Learn flamenco for real with Spanish

Are you interested in learning flamenco? There could be no better way to learn than to come to Andalucía, and immersing yourself in Spanish culture and the heart of the frenzy surrounding this fiery dance. Becoming truly acquainted with the Spanish language and the Southern Spanish way of life will help you to access a profound understanding of why the Andalucían people are so proud of their flamenco, and how they dance with such passion. A Spanish and Flamenco course is therefore the best way to achieve this. Combine the Mediterranean heat of Malaga with the passions of Spanish and flamenco!

What are you waiting for? ¡Olé!

– The AIL Málaga Team

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