I have been listening almost exclusively to flamenco since December. The reason for this is that for my current project I am getting inspiration from this culture.
It started from the dance as I needed a pose of the hands that expresses both strength and feminity and I found it in flamenco.
However, I knew next to nothing about it, and as I did a superficial reserach on dance, I realized I need to understand the culture as a whole to be able to capture what this pose should convey.
While the dance is mesmerizing and the guitar and palmas are catching, especially since I love clapping (though that has nothing to do with anything really), the singing which is the core of flamenco, is hard to listen to.
Much like the opera, which I do not really like, flamenco is an acquired taste. You have to educate yourself in order to like it.
Actually the first song (apart those from The gypsy kings and Camaron), that I fell in love with has passages of classical music and a children’s choir.
I must say that I found the perfect timing to be interested in flamenco since two Spanish radios started posting as podcasts their flamemco shows and two English BBC journalists passionate about this culture started a podcast in 2021, Flamenco Attitude.
As I was listening to the podcasts, I explored the singing and slowly started to immerse into it. It took almost four months for me to start to truly appreciate it and begin to understand it.
I also understand better what they mean when they say “pure flamenco”. Since I listened mostly to the classics of flamenco, I became quite sensitive to modern additions. As of now, I prefer classical flamenco which is good. I think understanding the basis, tradition and history is very important. Afterwards I can explore the rest.
I also find the singing the best facilitator to get one into the state they call (or Lorca called ) “duende”, which I understand as being possessed by the music. I realized I have selected several songs that have only singing and palmas, at most.
Carmen Amaya is the reason I stared writing this today. The force that got me out of my lack of motivation to write though I have so much to say and so many thoughts fighting to get out of my head.
Carmen Amaya is the best flamenco dancer of all time. She was a force.
She was the first flamenca to wear pants. Her dance combined the masculine and feminine energies at their finest.
Also dance saved her life, which wasn’t long anyway, she died at 50 from a disease she had from birth. Her kidneys weren’t functioning properly, but due to the effort of dancing she eliminated the toxins through her skin. And she was dancing. If anyone expresses what is to be possessed by the music, it’s her.
Her father thought she was a better singer than dancer and always wanted her to sing, but she liked dancing more. Survival instinct.
As for her singing skills, the best female flamenco voice is also an Amaya, Remedios Amaya. She is my favourite singer. Even over Cameron, who is the best flamenco voice and a great influence for Remedios, who was also his muse and is known as “la Camarona”.
When I first heard she is called “la Camarona”, I thought it is very patriarchal, but it’s really not the case. In flamenco, women and men are equal in terms of singing and dancing. Only playing the guitar was almost exclusively a male thing since recently, but not anymore.
The first flamenco singer to have recorded an album was a woman, La niña de los peines.
There is so much more to say, hopefully I will gather myself to post again soon. 💃