Flamenco 8 – Regional Variations (Granada)

Our stroll around Andalusia and the different regional Flamenco styles, influences and variations takes us today to Granada, which as well as being a magical city is also home to some of the most Moorish and Gypsy influenced flamenco music. These styles developed and flourished in the caves of Sacromonte, opposite the Alhambra Palace, and today we will be taking a look at some of the most important. But first, here’s a picture of what was my first view of the city when I visited many years ago.


The true origins of the Tango Flamenco are unknown although there are references to its being danced in popular fiestas as early as 1814. The Cantaores Ricardo Molina and Antonio Mairena claim that in Triana (a barrio in Seville) Tangos have always been sung and danced. In 1862 Charles Davillier noted that on his trip to Spain he saw a young Gypsy woman dancing the “Tango Americano” with extraordinary grace.

Be this as it may, by the Golden Age of Flamenco (the end of the nineteenth century), any Cantaor worth his salt had it in his repetoire and that is still the case today. Here is a clip of the late, great Enrique Morente – keep any eye out for some lovely footage of the inside of the Alhambra.

The Tango is, of course, a spectacular and difficult dance. You might want to learn how to do it. Here’s a short class that we thought you’d find interesting!

But sometimes it’s a good idea to leave things to the professionals! Here is Sara Baras’ group showing just how well they learned the lesson. This clip is from her show “Sabores”, which is truly wonderful.

This form is also known as Alboleá or Arbolá and the name is a reference to the dawning of the morning after a wedding after the bride and groom have spent their first night together. The form is in verses of four six syllable lines followed by a chorus. This form is one of the most private and deeply rooted in Gypsy culture. It is sung at weddings and was closely connected to the custom of the bride’s proving her virginity before the wedding could go ahead. There is a widely held belief among the Gypsy community that it is bad luck for it to be sung outside of this context and that it is not appropriate to include it in public shows. Here is a rare example from Spanish TV in the early seventies from the Cantaora Magdalena Montañes “La Marelu”, accompanied by the guitarist Paco Cepero.

We should point out that despite the severity and the archaic nature of the customs with which the form is associated, it is a song of great celebration and here is a much more recent example from a real wedding sung by Diego El Cigala.

La Granaína or Granada Fandango is said to be a long way from the Flamenco Fandango and is more an aflamencado version of the Portuguese Fandango, which as we mentioned in an earlier post is a close relation of the Fado. It was popularised by the legendary Cantaor Antonio Chacón at the end of the nineteenth century. The style is so elaborate, requiring both a good singing voice and feeling, that only the greatest have been able to deal with the difficulties that singing it impose. We started this post with the great Enrique Morente, what better way to end, then, than with his daughter, Estrella, showing us that she has inherited his passion for the history of the genre, his talent and his “raza”.

Next week: Cantes de Las Minas

One Response to Flamenco 8 – Regional Variations (Granada)

  1. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

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