Origin and evolution of flamenco Lecture Series A journey through Flamenco

Origin and evolution of flamenco

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Manuel Ríos Ruiz

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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.

  1. Manuel Ríos RuizManuel Ríos RuizNatural de Jerez de la Frontera (1934).Periodista. Miembro de número de la Real Academia Jerezana de San Dionisio de Ciencias Artes y Letras. Co-fundador de la Cátedra de Flamencología de Jerez. Reside en Madrid, donde ha dirigido las revistas “La Venencia”,  “La Estafeta Literaria”, “La Caña” y ”La Serneta”. Durante quince años mantuvo en RNE el programa “El Cuarto de los Cabales”. Actualmente es crítico de flamenco de “ABC” de Madrid y columnista de “Diario de Jerez”. Cultiva la poesía y el ensayo. Por su libro de poemas El oboe, mereció el Premio Nacional de Literatura 1972 del Ministerio de Cultura. Y por el conjunto de su obra poética el Premio Hispania de las Letras del Club Universitario Hesperia de Nueva York. Otros premios de poesía en su haber son Bécquer, Adonais (accésit), Boscán, Ciudad de Irún, Rafael Morales, Lacalle, Villa de Rota, Alcaraván, Ciudad de Martorell, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Juan Alcaide y José Hierro. Ha publicado los libros de poemas Dolor de Sur, Amores con la tierra, El oboe, Los arriates, La paz de los escándalos, Vasijas y deidades, Razón, vigilia y elegía de Manuel Torre, Los predios del jaramago, Cartas a una madrina de guerra, Una inefable presencia, Plazoleta de los ojos, Piedra de amolar, Figuraciones y Juratorio. Se han editado siete antologías de su obra poética y numerosos de sus poemas han sido traducidos a varios idiomas. Como ensayista ha publicado: Introducción al cante flamenco, Diccionario de escritores gaditanos, Rumbos del cante flamenco, De cante y cantaores de Jerez, Aproximaciones a la tauromaquia, Jerez: del ayer al futuro, Ayer y hoy del cante flamenco, El gran libro del flamenco, La Paquera de Jerez, genio y figura del cante y las monografías de los pintores Francisco Hernández y Gutiérrez Montiel. En colaboración con J. Blas Vega: Diccionario Enciclopédico Ilustrado del Flamenco y Maestros del Flamenco. Ha dirigido literariamente el Diccionario Enciclopédico Ilustrado de la Provincia de Cádiz y numerosos ciclos culturales en el Ateneo y en el Círculo de Bellas Artes madrileños. En esta entidad dirigió durante un lustro su gabinete de prensa. Como conferenciante ha desarrollado temas literarios y flamencos en centros culturales y universidades de Europa y América.