The story of flamenco guitar

By | April 8, 2021

The Moorish contribution

Moor’s music dates back to the occupation of Spain by an Islamic caliphate beginning in the 8th century. Southern Spain remained the Moorish capital until the Moorish expulsion of Catholic rulers Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. Moorish music used smaller scales and intervals, as well as elaborate melodic lines and a highly developed improvisation technique that gave it a sound different from the music of Spain and Western Europe. Many characteristics of Moorish music were eventually incorporated into flamenco style.

Gypsy Melodies

The gypsies also contributed to flamenco. They were a nomadic people who moved into Europe from their original home in India. The edge or gypsy song became the basis for the dozens of flamenco music forms that were later developed.

Folk music in Andalusia

Andalusian Native American music was a third major influence on flamenco. Shortly after the guitar arrived in Spain in the 18th century, singers in the region began to follow along on the new instrument. Solo guitar that provides accompaniment for singing and dancing eventually became known for flamenco performance.

The singing cafés

In the middle of the 19th century, public cafes known as café cantantes or ‘singing cafes’ began to offer performances of folk music in Seville and other cities in Andalusia. Groups of singers and dancers attracted popular influences and eventually new flamenco forms of singing, including malaguena, alegria, fandango and rondena, emerged as the art was refined to appeal. The guitarists competed with the vocalists and developed unique techniques and sounds on the instrument to highlight their skills.

Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco guitars manufacture their instruments with materials and techniques that are different from classical guitar makers. They used lighter cypress wood, put the strings closer to the fretboard and added protective golpeadores or ‘tapping plates’ which were used by the guitarists to push out rhythms on the instrument’s surface.

Montoyas and Modern Flamenco

A flamenco star from the early 20th century, Ramon Montoya, developed many of the guitar techniques that are familiar with the modern flamenco genre. The music led to a decline in popularity after World War II, which ended in 1945. In the 1950s and 1960s, interest in Spanish history and traditions led to a re-enactment of flamenco performance, with Montoya son Carlos as internationally renowned Star Guitarists of recent years including Paco de Lucia, Enrique de Melchor and Tomatito. Flamenco is a music and dance tradition that originated in Andalusia in southern Spain. The music has drawn on various influences throughout its history. In the 16th century, these influences began to combine in the typical style felt in modern times as flamenco.