Flamenco 11 – Cantes de Ida y Vuelta (2)

Last week we dealt with the Guajira and the Habanera, both of which found their way back from Cuba. This week we’re taking a look at the Rumba, which made the same trip back to Europe.

The Rumba is a Flamenco style that derives from a popular Cuban dance of African origin. The Cuban Rumba has a complex rhythm with plenty of counterpoint and syncopation and the accompaniment is predominantly percussive. It is normally danced in couples with little contact between the dancers. The Rumba is a relatively recent (latter part of the twentieth century) incorporation to the Flamenco canon that draws on the same rhythms, albeit with more emphasis on the guitar (and its percussive qualities) and the cajón – a box the player sits on and beats out syncopated rhythms on – which is very popular in many of the more modern and crossover Flamenco styles of today.

The Rumba in Spain is a style that has been adopted mainly by Gypsies from both Andalusia and Catalonia. Hence the two main styles are known as rumba andaluza and rumba catalana. In both the Afro-Caribbean influence is stronger than the Flamenco influence.

We are going to start with Antonio González “El Pescaílla” and his mega famous wife Lola Flores. The Catalan singer Peret is often credited with the invention of the Rumba Catalana, but this is where it all started a good decade before Peret got in on the act.

Another early exponent of this style was La Polaca. Here is a clip from a film from the sixties with some rather poor lip-synching that nevertheless gives an idea of how the style evolved. This is more Rumba Andaluza than Catalana.

The Rumba has since become a staple of the crossover acts. Acts that, despite having Flamenco roots, have reached much wider audiences. Who can forget the Gypsy Kings? Nearly everything they did was rumba based. This was one of their best.

Finally, here is Niña Pastori singing a duet with Potito who was one of the last to share a double bill with Camarón, who, it is said, would get wound up listening to how well he sang and then go out to sing and do his best to upstage him! The chorus here is sung in the Rumba style whilst the verses are is actually far closer to the style of the Tango (as sung in Cadiz). Can you spot the change in rhythm?


The Colombiana is an odd one, despite being included in the Cantes de Ida y Vuelta and although it does remind one of American rhythms and melodies it has absolutely nothing to do with the Americas and even less with Colombia! It was born in 1930 and is a variation of the Rumba with elements of both the Milonga and the Habanera and was invented by Pepe Marchena.

Here he is in a recording from 1931.

It has been sung by many since then but we’ve chosen this later version by Rocío Jurado who was better known as a singer of Copla or popular Spanish songs but could easily turn her hand (or voice) to Flamenco to great effect when she felt like it.

Next week: Part three (Argentina)

One Response to Flamenco 11 – Cantes de Ida y Vuelta (2)

  1. Pingback: The Flamenco Series « Casa Maki

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