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Thread: Thoughts About Cante Flamenco

  1. #61
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default More About Siguiriya y Cabal

    In a previous post, I wrote in praise of the Nimbus CD Cante Gitano, on which, among others, José de la Tomasa sings so well. One of his cantes was a siguiriya that, halfway through, shifted to a major key and conveyed a wonderful sense of tranquility and peace following the anguish of the first half. The cante reminded me of another, very similar, that I had somewhere, so I dug around and came up with José de la Tomasa's grandfather Pepe Torre, brother of Manuel Torre. Pepe Torre had recorded a Siguiriya del Planeta with Melchor de Marchena for Antonio Mairena's Antologia del Cante Flamenco y Cante Gitano that sounded very similar--similar letras, similar major key.

    I also have another José de la Tomasa CD, with Juan Carmona "Habichuela", with a similar piece as on the Cante Gitano CD--another siguiriya, this time labelled as siguiriya y cabal. Evidently the cabal (or cabales,pl.) is a very old and rare form of major-key siguiriyas, very rarely referred to in the flamenco (English) literature. It was also referred to as siguiriya cambiá or siguiriya de cambio. José de la Tomasa obviously comes by his association with this palo through his Torre family background. There is no way of knowing whether el Planeta himself sang this piece as a cabal, but somewhere along the line Pepe Torre did, and his grandson has passed it on in the form of siguiriya y cabal. The great cantaor Rafael Romero also sings the siguiriya y cabal with some regularity. Here is Rafael, "El Gallina", with his favorite tocaor, Perico el del Lunar hijo:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ncSUaT...Lv0Oo4JDhYlkqw

    Also another, maybe even better: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pXP4n_zCEfc

    Looking and listening again to these two clips, I am reminded again as to how good the father-and-son tocaores named Perico el del Lunar were at accompanying. Donn Pohren often extolled the excellence of them both; Perico hijo played many of his father's falsetas, but with even greater nuance and dexterity. The examples here show accompaniment at its very best, in my opinion.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; May-31-2016 at 19:07.

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  3. #62
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    I've been watching videos of various cantoares but I'd like to focus on Jose de la Tomasa for a bit longer. He is still performing and I'd like to share the following three videos. I can only make a little sense of some of the words and I'm okay with the that for the moment (when I first started listening to opera I didn't read the librettos right away, I just listened).

    1. What exactly is going on in this "conversation" between Jose and his son Gabriel?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1AnqqWPby8

    2. Understanding that "melodiousness" is not key by any means, what is your opinion re/ the quality of Jose's voice in the following two videos? To me his expression of emotion in the "not-worded expressions" is deeper than all the videos I have watched of him so far, but I'm not sure if his style is changing in the other parts or if the "melodiousness" of his voice is part of his aging?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcsYLrviMas

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0geHL4WDWH0

    Also, since I've been introduced to Cante Flamenco via video, it is a very visual art. I love the black and white in the above three videos!

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  5. #63
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    Default Tonas

    Quote Originally Posted by JosefinaHW View Post
    What exactly is going on in this "conversation" between Jose and his son Gabriel?
    We're going back to the purported roots of flamenco with Tonas. I know little about this palo, other than that it is performed a palo seco, that is, without accompaniment. The Martinete and the Debla are both alleged to derive from Tonas. Donn Pohren quotes a Spanish musicologist that Tonas were songs of wandering minstrels telling of events and stories, that happened to be adopted by the gitanos and further developed and evolved. Tonas were close to extinction until the 1950s, when interest in the roots of flamenco revived. Both Pohren and the book Flamenco have English translations of some Tonas letras; here is a copla--

    Though I dress like a Spaniard
    I'm a Gypsy by birth.
    I don't want to be a Spaniard
    For I'm happy as a Gypsy.

    I would guess that José and Son have located or composed a large set of Tonas coplas, and are taking turns singing them, as they should, "a palo seco". A pity that my Spanish is so poor, and my Andalu is almost non-existent--never have been good at languages.

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    :StrangeMagic: and all Interested: If you would like translations of any of these videos i will forward them to some friends in Spain--don't know why I didn't think of it before! None of them are from Andalusia but I'm sure they will get more of it than me.

    Just send me the links to the videos or an MP3 file of a song you have on computer.
    Last edited by JosefinaHW; Jun-02-2016 at 02:05.

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  9. #65
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    Default Spanish Letras of Many Flamenco Palos

    I have previously mentioned Brook Zern's website as a major resource for flamenco aficionados. Equally rich are the various references of flamencophile Norman Kliman. Kliman lives in Spain, and has gathered the Spanish lyrics (letras) for hundreds and hundreds of audio and video performances of cante, listing them by artist and recording, whether CD or DVD or whatever. They are only in Spanish, but may be of interest or help to any of us at some time, seeking to gain a better grip on what is being sung. Obviously having the translations into English would be the ultimate, But Norman Kliman has gone to great effort to amass what he has.

    http://canteytoque.es/letras.html

    This may be helpful in conjunction with JosefinaHW's proposal, above.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jun-03-2016 at 04:38.

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    Default Baile Flamenco: La Singla

    A brief interlude, wherein I present the amazing Antonia Singla Contreras. La Singla was born in 1948, in the gypsy quarter of Barcelona, the birthplace also of the Queen of the Gypsies, the legendary Carmen Amaya. Antonia La Singla early developed meningitis, leaving her a deaf mute until the age of eight, when she recovered a little of her lost faculties. However, she had begun dancing several years before, and her skill and desire never faltered. A famous photograph by Xavier Miserachs catches the 12-year-old Antoñita dancing on the heights above her gypsy barrio in Barcelona:

    http://m.imgur.com/MKmyDWd

    La Singla in 1963 appeared as a young gitano dancer in Carmen Amaya's final film, a Romeo and Juliet tale of warring gypsy clans, titled Los Tarantos. She idolized Carmen Amaya, and emulated Amaya's very aggressive, "masculine" so-called "pants dancing", growing into a fierce and stunning performer as the clip below shows:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZFLEoOk8LA
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jun-03-2016 at 22:52.

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  13. #67
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    Re/ Antonia Singla: an AMAZING dancer, but I am now definitely focused on the cantoares.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JosefinaHW View Post
    Understanding that "melodiousness" is not key by any means, what is your opinion re/ the quality of Jose's voice in the following two videos? To me his expression of emotion in the "not-worded expressions" is deeper than all the videos I have watched of him so far, but I'm not sure if his style is changing in the other parts or if the "melodiousness" of his voice is part of his aging.
    It's taken some time, but I have been able to watch/listen to both José de la Tomasa's other clips, the Siguiriyas and the Solea. My observation is that cantaores' voices decline--probably like everybody else's who is not trained in singing as an art in itself--with a diminution of control of pitch, and a coarsening of vibrato. I found only Aurelio de Cádiz actually improving with age. Singers may compensate for the decline in vocal quality by increased emphasis on expression. A balance is struck, and it is left to individual taste as to how to judge the result. I preferred his Siguiriyas, but that is likely due to A) I prefer Siguiriyas to Soleares in general, and B) I preferred the accompaniment. That said, José de la Tomasa will definitely be among the select few flamencos to join me on my desert island.

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    Alegrias, Jose de la Tomasa and Manolo Franco

    Impossible not to smile, dance and just be glad to be alive with this one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LWz...GNM9fZF_FTFP8c

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    Default La Paquera de Jerez

    I've quoted Manuel Agujetas as saying that he regarded himself, El Chocolate, and La Paquera as being the last three real gitano singers left. Now all three are gone (though others do continue the art of traditional cante with great artistry and dedication; Agujetas' grandiose statement the hallmark of a truly exceptional and hyperbolic personality). La Paquera matched Agujetas in enormous physical presence, as the accompanying clip will show. She was a large, powerful woman, with an equally-sized mouth, voice, and the lung-power to project that voice to the far corners of any venue. While she sang most of the palos well--I included her Taranto and Fandangos de Huelva in previous entries--she was best known for being a master of Bulerias. It was her specialty (as also it was of Bernarda de Utrera), singing copla after copla at flamenco juergas in an atmosphere of almost ferocious festivity. Here she is accompanied by Parrilla de Jerez, whose staccato attack is very well suited to this sort of full-ahead Bulerias. Note that the clip ends at 9:02, yet strangely repeats--without audio--in its entirety; who knows why?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=...&v=QUQeRZsK39Q
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jun-08-2016 at 17:15.

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    Default Resources: More About Norman Kliman's Archives

    I've discussed Norman Kliman's archive of flamenco letras (in Spanish). For those who wish to penetrate deeper into the world of flamenco, Kliman's website is a treasure-trove of material, including much discussion of modes, keys, etc., of interest especially to those familiar with the formal aspects of music. Kliman, for example, has analyzed dozens of both Siguiriyas and Soleares by cantaor and tocaor, noting their lyrics, structure, etc. Kliman also has brief biographies of scores of guitarists--one just needs to poke around on his site to come up with all sorts of information. Here is the link to his Siguiriyas archive, as an example.

    http://canteytoque.es/sigclas.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I've quoted Manuel Agujetas as saying that he regarded himself, El Chocolate, and La Paquera as being the last three real gitano singers left.
    I've begun to listen more to and learn about Manuel Agujetas. From the interviews/video clips of him on YouTube I can see where he was coming from in calling himself one of the last "real" gitano singers. He clearly seemed to live in the barrio ("the old Gypsy neighborhood): poor way of dress; gritty, totally unpolished manner; a person of the crime-ridden, poor chaotic Gitano village (at least how the outsiders view of it. This is an absolute total contrast to the refined, elegant Jose de la Tomasa (My statements aren't meant as negative judgements). It's very possible that I am not seeing him correctly.

    A series of (30-35 minute) documentaries re/ cante flamenco were made from 1991-1993: Rito y Geografïa del Cante Flamenco. They are on YouTube and they have English subtitles. The following is the episode re/ Manuel Agujetas:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx8IenwJABE

    I would also like to see the French documentary that was made about Agujetas, Manuel Agujetas: Contaur. I have had no luck finding that one yet.
    Last edited by JosefinaHW; Jun-14-2016 at 09:38. Reason: added name of series

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    Default Resources: More About Rito y Geografia

    Quote Originally Posted by JosefinaHW View Post
    A series of (30-35 minute) documentaries re/ cante flamenco were made from 1991-1993: Rito y Geografïa del Cante Flamenco. They are on YouTube and they have English subtitles. The following is the episode re/ Manuel Agujetas:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx8IenwJABE

    I would also like to see the French documentary that was made about Agujetas, Manuel Agujetas: Contaur. I have had no luck finding that one yet.
    I'm delighted that you've located and mentioned the Rito y Geografia series--it is amazing how far appreciation of flamenco, especially cante flamenco, has evolved since Donn Pohren wrote his first book and the epochal Hispavox/Westminster anthology was released. Spain, and certainly Andalusia, has acknowledged that flamenco is a national treasure. Not long ago, the tireless Brook Zern put together an accessable list of probably all of the R y G documentaries, which I show here:

    http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?p=1334

    Excellent digging, JosefinaHW!

    I think the documentary Manuel Agujetas, Cantaor is copyright-protected and thus not available on YouTube. I have tried in vain to view it myself, and am too frugal to buy it. I also think Agujetas' attitude about himself and his authenticity was a compound of both his "old school" upbringing and approach to flamenco, but also his Ali-like "I am the Greatest!" self-image.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Jun-14-2016 at 12:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    I'm delighted that you've located and mentioned the Rito y Geografia series--it is amazing how far appreciation of flamenco, especially cante flamenco, has evolved since Donn Pohren wrote his first book and the epochal Hispavox/Westminster anthology was released. Spain, and certainly Andalusia, has acknowledged that flamenco is a national treasure. Not long ago, the tireless Brook Zern put together an accessable list of probably all of the R y G documentaries, which I show here:

    http://www.flamencoexperience.com/blog/?p=1334

    I think the documentary Manuel Agujetas, Cantaor is copyright-protected and thus not available on YouTube. I have tried in vain to view it myself, and am too frugal to buy it. I also think Agujetas' attitude about himself and his authenticity was a compound of both his "old school" upbringing and approach to flamenco, but also his Ali-like "I am the Greatest!" self-image.
    Thank you for sharing that link! Good Stuff and always wonderful to hear the story of such generous people as Brook Zern.

    I see I made a mistake about the dates when the series was filmed; it was 1971-1973.

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    Jose de la Tomasa and Manolo Franco

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cqim6sE90g

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