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Thread: Thoughts About Cante Flamenco

  1. #16
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morimur View Post
    Camarón, Camarón!
    Indeed, a remarkable and transitional cantaor. I appreciate his earlier work with Antonio Arenas and with Paco de Lucia; but as they (Camarón and PdL) both wandered farther away from traditional cante, I found their art less satisfying.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Dec-09-2015 at 20:31.

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    One of the very best on-line resources for reliable information about flamenco is the blog of Brook Zern, who has forgotten more about flamenco than I will ever learn and know....

    http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?cat=66

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    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Jaleo, and a Correction

    Jaleo is the general term for the various ways that both onlookers and participants in a flamenco setting add to the atmospherics of the performance. There are, first, expressions of encouragement or appreciation from within the group such as "así se canta", "ole", etc. There is rhythmic clapping, or palmas; finger snapping, or pitos, an art that Carmen Amaya brought to perfection; rhythmic rapping of the knuckles on a tabletop (there is a name for this, but I do not recall it); and taconeo, the tapping of heels on the floor.

    One also becomes aware, especially in the slower palos, of a thumping or tapping accent coming from the guitarist-- this is golpe, the striking of the guitar body usually by the ring finger to accentuate a particular run of notes. If the guitar is not fitted with a striking plate or golpeador to receive the blow, you may see a worn area on the guitar just below where the tocaor's hand is usually positioned. Golpe is one of the hallmarks of flamenco guitar playing, muy flamenco!

    I must correct an obvious error in my remarks about Jarrito's Fandangos de Huelva: he is clearly accompanied by castanets.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Dec-11-2015 at 13:20.

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  7. #19
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Farruca: Cante Chico; Granaina y Mediagranaina: Cante Intermedio, Cante Andaluz

    The Farruca, like the Mediagranaina, is somewhat of a later arrival to the flamenco family. It is thought to have entered Andalusia via the port of Cadiz from Asturias and then dispersed throughout the area. Long a favorite of dancers, it offers rich opportunity for display of footwork and form, especially for male bailaores. Here it is sung by Antonio Cuevas, accompanied by Paco and Angel Cortes, and superbly danced by the renowned Mario Maya. Mario Maya is not to be confused with the equally gifted dancer Manuel Maya "Manolete".
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jNByRqYR00Y

    The Granaina and the Mediagranaina ("half-Granaina") are from Granada, and, like many Cante Andaluz palos, evolved to offer opportunities for singers to display their vocal artistry. The Granaina was popularized by the great payo cantaor Don Antonio Chacón. He was so fond of this sort of palo that he created the Mediagranaina as yet another vehicle for his talents. I myself, though, have some difficulty in telling one from the other palo. But they all share the Andaluz trait of the descending scale that closes each. Note the family resemblances to Fandangos, Tarantas, and Malagueñas, all of which reveal common descent from some more remote ancestor--some say of Arab or Berber origin. We begin with Mediagranaina y Granaina sung by Curro de Utrera, accompanied by Luis Calderito.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U-5sG74difs

    Next we hear Enrique Morente, the father of Estrella Morente, sing Granaina. Toque is provided by El Bola.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ziXClkLOuVI

    Finally a Mediagranaina, sung much as Don Antonio Chacon himself might have done. This is from a 1950s LP with Pepe el Poli singing and toque by the legendary Carlos Montoya, aided by Pepe Bandajoz.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hrD38Q6vX6g
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Dec-24-2015 at 16:33.

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  9. #20
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Thoughts on the recent death of one of the greatest gypsy cantaores in the history of flamenco. I included examples of Agujetas singing both Martinetes and Fandangos in my review of the palos of flamenco. The following is found on Brook Zern's wonderful blog.

    Flamenco Singer Manuel Agujetas – Obituary by Manuel Bohórquez – translated by Brook Zern
    by Brook Zern

    Flamenco Song’s Last Cry of Grief

    By Manolo Bohorquez

    from El Correo de Andalucía, December 25, 2015

    A flamenco singer has died. Not just any singer, which would be terrible news. No, one of the greatest masters of Gypsy song (cante gitano). Yes, Gypsy, because that’s what Agujetas always was and always wanted to be. His father, Agujetas el Viejo, was also a singer, a Gypsy from Rota with a sound that came from centuries ago, metallic, dark as a cave, that put you in the last room of the blood. Manuel de los Santos Pastor, or Agujetas, who died this morning in Jerez, was the only one who remained of those Gypsies who took the song from the marrow of his bones, a singer who only had the song, who felt alone since the day he was born and who sang so he would not die of solitude. Unsociable, a strange person among strange people, as were Manuel Torres and Tomás Pavón [perhaps the two greatest male flamenco singers who ever lived]. Manuel Agujetas detested anything that was not the flamenco song or freedom, and who fled from stereotypes or academic schools, from technique, from treatises, from la ojana. He was, in the best sense of the word, a wild animal. Some critics reproached him for being too rough, disordered and anarchic, but he had the gift, that thing that correct and professional singers lack. That they can’t even dream of. You can fake a voice to sing Gypsy flamenco, but Manuel never faked anything. He was the Gypsy voice par excellence, the owner of what Manuel Torres called the duende, the black sounds that captivated the early flamenco expert Demófilo and García Lorcca. A stripped-down cry that could kill you in the fandango of El Carbonerillo, but that when it was applied to [deep song styles like] the siguiriyas or the martinetes, reached a terrible dramatic intensity. No one sounded as Gypsy as Agujetas, with such profundity. No flamenco singer carried his voice to such depths, even though he could be a disaster on a stage, not knowing how to deal with the accompanying guitar and repeating verses and styles to a point of overload. There is no such thing as “Agujeta-ism”, or attempting to copy his inimitable style; but his admirers are found all over the world and have always been faithful to him. A minority, to be sure, but devoted unto death. And they have not claimed official honors for him, as happens with other singers of his generation, They have loved his art and have wanted to experience it, knowing that he was unique and without parallel. Manuel had a charisma that wasn’t for stadiums or big theaters, but for an intimate setting. Someone who has an old LP of Manuel Agujetas feels as if he has a treasure, a relic, something sacred. And someone who heard him on a stage, with that antique aspect, that scar on his face and those sunken eyes, knows that on that day he lived a truly unique moment. Surely this death won’t make headlines or be reported on radio or TV. And what else? Those of us who heard him during an outdoor summer festival in a small town, or a small theater or a flamenco club will never forget it, because in each line, in each of his chilling moments, Manuel nailed to our soul a way of rendering deep song that didn’t die today, with his disappearance, but that died decades ago. It will be a long time before another Gypsy is born, if one is born at all, who has such an ability to wound you with his singing. And when he wounds you fatally, when it kills you, it is a desirable death. The last great pain, the last great grief of song has gone. May he rest in peace.

    End of article in El Correo de Andalucía of December 25th, 2015. The original is at http://elcorreoweb.es/cultura/el-ult...ante-AI1183398, Olé to Manuel Bohórquez, and a final olé to Manuel Agujetas, the greatest singer I ever knew and the greatest singer I ever heard. Please refer to other entries in this blog for more translations and opinion about Manuel Agujetas.

    Brook Zern
    brookzern@gmail.com
    Flamencoexperience.com
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jan-13-2016 at 19:07.

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  11. #21
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Perrate de Utrera and Diego del Gastor

    I began my discussion of the flamenco palos with a bulerias sung by Bernarda de Utrera, to the accompaniment of guitarist Diego del Gastor. The town of Morón for decades was a hotbed of authentic pueblo flamenco, presided over by the legendary guitarist Diego del Gastor, the singer sisters Fernanda and Bernarda de Utrera, and the cantaor Perrate de Utrera. Diego and his singers became extraordinarily attuned to one another's art and recorded classic versions, uniquely theirs, of the gitano palos. Here I offer one each of three such performances by the team of Perrate and Diego--Bulerias, Soleares, and Siguiriyas. Perrate's family provides the setting. Note Perrate's rhythmic striking of the tabletop to mark the grave tempo, the compás, of each palo. These are highly personal, idiosyncratic readings of each form. First, Bulerias:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ugZdzaQLnhY

    Next: Soleares:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-kyJJZBVUZE

    And finally, Siguiriyas:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ccbwVem29vk
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Mar-14-2016 at 04:36.

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    Default Rosario López and Antonio Gómez

    Rosario López, a paya (non-gypsy) cantaora born in Jaén, was one of the finest singers of the closing decades of the last century. She had, for a flamenco singer, a very fine voice, and extraordinary expressiveness in the many different palos that she mastered. In 1989, she performed at a flamenco festival, a peña, before an audience gathered to formally listen to flamenco--The Peña Flamenca de Jaén--with guitarist Antonio Gómez, and offered remarkable examples of several palos that I greatly appreciate. Alas, the Peña was not videoed, but we do have the sound recordings of these, as follows:
    First, Tientos:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sg5MX7_mWOw

    Next we have Soleares:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=W7eq7C89S9g

    Finally there is this stunning Siguiriyas-- it is among the best I have heard:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gR3896RPrCg
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Mar-14-2016 at 19:42.

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  15. #23
    Senior Member Bayreuth's Avatar
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    Wow Strange Magic!! I've lived all my life in Madrid, Spain (where the flamenco tradition is not as strong as in the south of the country but still it has a huge presence) and I have to confess that I didn't know half of what I just read in here. You seem to be a true lover of this fine art. A wonderful article, useful even for a Spaniard, I'm telling you!

    Nowadays here in Spain the focus of attention in the flamenco world (at least in the "mainstream" flamenco world) is divided in three:

    1. José Mercé: I wonder if you have heard something from this monster. He is tremendous, one of the most loved personalities in the country. I've been to the Auditorio Nacional de Madrid (the mecca of Classical in Spain where the Wiener Philarmoniker and the likes come to play) and I have seen there so so many fine classical concerts, but none comes close to the time I went there to see José Mercé sing. His sole unamplified voice in a huge venue. An incredible experience I will forever cherish

    2. Diego "El Cigala": he is probably most known in Spain due to his friendly gypsy character but still, I believe he recorded one of the finest albums that have come from my country in the last 20 years: "Lágrimas Negras", along with cuban jazzman Bebo Valdés. The result is, simply, extraordinary. Check it out if you haven't, Strange Music, for I believe it will get to you. A beautiful combination of jazz and flamenco and, furthermore, a combination of Spanish "salero" with Cuban rhythms.

    3. Festival de Cante de las Minas de la Unión: aside from the Feria de Abril and "El Rocío", this is where Flamenco reaches its annual top. Whatever comes from this festival gets a huge attention and it's nowadays one of the principal sources of new blood in the flamenco. You just have to know a few names that sung or performed there to comprehend the relevance of the event: Paco de Lucía, Miguel Poveda, Sara Baras, Estrella Morente and, of course, the greatest of them all, José Monge alias "Camarón de la Isla".
    Last edited by Bayreuth; Mar-19-2016 at 13:33.

  16. #24
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I've listened to this concert a couple of times. It's fantastic! RIP Paco.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nux5LzzxT3o

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  18. #25
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    There is no question that PdL was one of the most accomplished guitarists ever. He even accompanied cante with great skill and depth early in his career. But the increasing awareness of flamenco among a larger and larger audience who were less and less familiar with its roots and basics in cante, led to the growing dominance of the more accessable elements of flamenco guitar virtuosity and of flamenco dance, over the original primacy of sung flamenco. As I mentioned earlier in this article, today's "flamenco" is like what lieder or opera would be without song, but with the piano of lieder metastasized into a swollen caricature of itself, and perhaps with added bass, drums, flutes, maybe an accordion; opera might become a long tone poem. It is fitting that the PdL concert is during Jazz Week, and really makes no pretense of being authentic traditional flamenco. Late Paco, along with his many contemporaries, belongs in a hybrid category that is variously called flamenco fusion, flamenco nuevo, flamenco/jazz, and a host of other names. My view is that there comes a point when a genre has so evolved away from what it has been for a longish period of time into something else, that it be given a new name in recognition, and to do it its own justice. From what can be told from early recordings (1909), we can probably postulate flamenco as being relatively unchanged or changing very slowly, from, say, the 1880s to the 1980s. Before the 1880s, who knows--it's like the situation with The Blues. We know that Baroque evolved into Classical, and so we don't keep calling the music of Haydn and Mozart Baroque; it has a new name. Not better, not worse, but new, so, new name. Ditto with so-called flamenco today--to the extent that it no longer is centrally about song, accompanied by guitar only, and perhaps embellished occasionally by dance--it should have the courage to seize a new title for itself.

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  20. #26
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I understand what you are saying, but I happen to be a contemporary music fan. I enjoy modern music and musicians that draw from the well of tradition, and incorporate these influences into a contemporary musical format. And I also happen to be a jazz fan, so I like Indian/jazz hybrid music, and other cultural music fusions.

    If other musicians want to preserve their folk heritage by trying to re-create music of the past, that's up to them. But my feeling is you can't go back. Same with classical music, which is why I have no interest in listening to 18th century music on period instruments.

    And I don't think Paco's music is only about the guitar. He was definitely not a one dimensional musical character. Even in his solo guitar albums and performances you can always feel the spirit of dance, and the social aspect of music.

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  22. #27
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    I completely understand your position. It may be that traditional cante flamenco is dead or near dead, and that would be just fine with me, though, like the blues, there are pockets of both artists and of aficionados still working the seam. The blessing is that we have an enormous recorded legacy, audio and video, of classic flamenco available to us, and so we can still immerse ourselves in an art that did endure for perhaps a century or more as a recognizable entity. And early PdL and early Camarón have a place in that legacy. But his story as an artist, and the associated story of the mutation of traditional, cante-centered flamenco into a number of increasingly non-flamenco idioms, is best served in a thread devoted to the man himself. After all, there are many students of guitar technique who rate PdL the greatest master of the instrument ever, bar none.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I am going through your YouTube entries and enjoying the music. I enjoy the passion and spirit of the music, and the social aspect. I'm really not interested in analyzing guitar technique, and worrying about who's the greatest.

    It's the same with the blues. The experience of living, and the life force coming through the music, that's the essence being communicated.

  25. #29
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Starthrower, I sincerely appreciate your interest in this idiosyncratic-and-not-terribly-popular genre. You're right: The Blues offer probably the closest parallel with cante in several respects. I too care little about guitar technical virtuosity, but it became an obsession among the growing percentage of self-styled flamenco enthusiasts who are themselves guitarists, and served to further erode the centrality of sung flamenco. PdL was part of the general trend away from cante, both as an agent of change and as its pawn. Cante flamenco never had and never would have had more than a minuscule audience outside of its Andalusian homeland, and so it was inevitable that guitar and dance would become the overwhelming idea of flamenco in the popular mind. But you are most welcome to this tiny club here!

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Strange Magic - what a wonderful series of posts. It has revitalised my interest in flamenco. One of the first albums I bought back in the sixties was by Manitas de Plata and I have some wonderful albums that I bought in Spain in a back street music shop in Malaga about fifteen years ago by various flamenco guitarists. Clearly your knowledge is exceptional and I hope you don't mind but I have done a cut and paste job with your articles to put in a file for my own use.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Apr-05-2016 at 17:41.
    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate!

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