The lecturer will analyse the presence of the guitar in flamenco, from its origins, and describing its different stages of evolution as a musical instrument in this genre. He will also explain guitar terminology as well as the first known “tocaores”. Reference will also be made to the gypsies, their traditions and musical characteristics and the importance of their creativity. And finally, he will analyse the repertory, musical styles and most important schools. The presentation will be illustrated with musical examples performed by the guitarist Adolfo Perales.
A journey through the most representative flamenco styles, with notes about their presumed origins and historical transformation.
An examination of the musical and social history of Andalusia is essential for an understanding of the origin of such a unique musical art form as flamenco, which consists of a combination of many tonal and instrumental influences, finally creating its very own sounds and expressions, which is the surprising key to its present well-defined characteristics and its superiority in terms of artistic nuances and density to mere folkloric elements. In the search for the geo-musical genesis of flamenco, apart from taking for granted that from immemorial times there must have been a genuine and innate musical deposit in certain people in Andalusia, which has led the Andalusians to adopt the most varied kinds of music over the centuries, without ever losing their musical conception. This has always been taken as certain and hence the constant references to the classical accounts.
Flamenco song, dancing and guitar are presently considered an artform as a whole, because their styles, created from a folkloric basis, Andalusian songs and ballads, have surpassed their popular values, reaching a superior musical dimension, whose performances require special artistic faculties in every respect, maintaining an extremely popular aesthetic, typical of the Andalusian people. Representations of flamenco have thus materialised into authentic artistic expression, completely differentiated from their original folkloric beginnings, meaning the anonymous and personal compositions that have formed part of it and stylistically evolved, have remained as music and lyric poetry of popular roots. It can thus be said, according to the generalised opinion of the majority of scholars, that flamenco is folklore elevated to art, both for its interpretative difficulties and its musical form and conception.
In addition, it must also be kept in mind that almost all flamencologists consider that certain styles of the genre, even the names of some of its most famous performers, became known around the last quarter of the eighteenth century, moving from presentations in country inns and taverns to local cafés with entertainment by 1842, with the performances given at the Café Lombardo in Seville. From then onwards, the presence of the art of flamenco began to increase on the public stages of all Spanish regions and immediately after this, abroad.
In the year 1881 Antonio Machado y Álvarez, Demófilo, recommended that "true artists pay attention to the vast and beautiful treasures found in this spontaneous poetry, which is thus priceless on the market, and doesn’t follow any law other than that of expressing the most intimate sentiments of the heart and the clearest and most tenacious ideas of understanding in all of their purity". Supporting his argument about the poetic grandure of the flamenco coplas, he also made a call "to lay claim to the people’s right to be considered as an important factor in the culture and civilization of Humanity".
In 1922 Federico García Lorca wrote "one of the marvels of cante jondo, apart from its melodic essence, consists of its poems, which are astonishing. The most infinite scales of Pain and Sorrow [are] placed at the service of the purest and most precise expression. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like it in all of Spain, neither in style, nor atmosphere, nor emotional justness ( …) There is nothing comparable to these songs in delicacy and ternura, and I must insist again on the infamy that is being committed by relegating them to oblivion".
Ninety years after García Lorca wrote this elogy and that fulminating word ("infamy") very few poets and scholars have fought against this long-standing injustice: Luis Rosales, Alberto Fernández Bañuls and Eduardo Pérez Orozco, Francisco Gutiérrez Carbajo, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Francisco José Cruz, José Luis Ortiz Nuevo, Antonio Hernández... But those who decide which poetic traditions should be studied and praised at university continue to overlook the Cancionero Anónimo Olvidado, one of the most spine-chilling poems in the history of Spanish poetry, both in its art and popular traditions.