Flamenco emerged from the music of Spanish gypsies. Flamenco music is played on a guitar, with a female performer dancing to the music. One of the defining characteristics of flamenco music is passion in music and dance. As mentioned by authors on Andalucia.com, the emphasis in flamenco music is on text and rhythm rather than on melody and harmony, which is usually the case in other western music.
Spain has made important contributions to classical music with works by Fernando Sor, Pablo de Sarasate and Enrique Granados. These composers used music from their homeland to write music that was clearly Spanish but broad enough to appeal to a wider audience. An example of such music is the very famous standard violet ‘flash’ part ‘Gypsy Airs’ or ‘Zigeunerweisen’ by the Spanish virtuoso violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate. The changing tempo and virtuoso nature of the music in terms of gypsy music, which greatly affects Spanish music. Famous modern classical instrumentalists include the late cellist Pablo Casals and the pianist Alicia de Larrocha.
Spain has its own opera form called zarzuela. It is similar to American music, as there is music with dialogue and groups of artists. The subject can be serious or comical. A popular zarzuela is called ‘Tabernera del Puerto.’ Although it deals with heavy topics that are still relevant today, such as alcoholism, family abuse, slavery and drug trafficking, it premiered in 1936. Zarzuela has been an art form since the 17th century. Listed operators include zarzuela promoter and major operator Tenor Placido Domingo, soprano Monserrat Cabelle and tenor Jose Carreras.
Modern Spanish music
Modern Spanish music has been influenced by flamenco. Groups like the internationally known Gipsy Kings have strong flamenco influences in their music.
‘Bakalao’ is a form of Spanish techno music. It was first heard in the 1990s near Valencia, but it has now spread beyond that city. Unlike other traditional music from Western Europe, traditional Spanish music is a mixture of European and Arab cultural influences. This is due to the Islamic conquest of Spain, which, among other things, introduced guitar and bullfighting to Spain. There are different genres of Spanish music from the past and present. Although, according to the author of Encarta, Spain did not produce a great composer until the 1920s, there are currently many noted artists from Spain who are internationally established.