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Flamenco singing, or “cante jondo” (deep song), is a fundamental part of this art, along with dancing and “el toque”, the music produced by the guitar. Coming from a hundred years old and a mixture of different cultures, flamenco singing has evolved towards different styles: in this post, we review the main types of flamenco singing.

Where does flamenco singing come from?

Well, let’s start from the beginning: the origin of flamenco singing, like the birth of flamenco art itself, is not entirely clear, although studies on the subject mention different cultures as a starting point of this “cante” or folk singing:

  • Common traits are observed with the monotonous Islamic chants.
  • It could come from the Jews during their stay on the Peninsula.
  • It seems clear the influence of the songs of the Mozarabic Christians.
  • Gipsy folklore, which arrived in Spain in the 15th century, has had much to do with its evolution.

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What seems clearer though is that, in its beginning, flamenco singing was limited to the private sphere of the popular classes before becoming professional in the singing cafes, where even then, has accompanied by music and dance, spreading then worldwide in its golden age.

Momento del espectáculo de Gran Gala Flamenco

Classification of Flamenco singing

A precise classification of flamenco singing is challenging since it is an evocative art which largely depends on the el duende of the singer. Experts would usually divide it into two large groups according to the sentiment expressed:

  • Cante chico (small chant): cheerful and festive, with light themes like love and happiness. Within this group, we would find tangos, bulerías and the Alegria, for example.
  • Cante grande (big chant): or cante jondo, is much more serious and sober, based on themes such as anguish or death. They belong to the cante grande “las seguiriyas”, the soleá and the tonás, among other styles.

In addition, depending on the attitude of the singer on stage, we can categorise flamenco singing into two other groups:

  • Cante palante or singer in front: in which the performance’s protagonist is the singer, who goes out to the tablao (or stage) alone, or maybe, with a guitar’s accompaniment.
  • Sing patrás or singers at the back: the dance is the fundamental piece, and the singer stays in the background.

Basic flamenco songs

This group includes the purest varieties of singing, strictly gipsy emerged and developed in the south of Andalusia. The four basics flamenco songs are:

  • Seguiriya.
  • Soleá.
  • Toná.
  • Tango.
  • Which, in turn, belongs to the genre of cante grande.

Flamenco songs, influenced by the basics

They are types of cante whose structure and theme are influenced by one of the folk’s basics songs because they are related to some of them but are not considered, in turn, the influence of others. They are considered a gypsy-Andalusian mixture.

  • Livianas and serranas are related to the seguiriya.
  • Polos, bulerías, cañas, alboreá and romances are related to the soleá.
  • Alegrías, romeras, mirabras, caracoles, cantiñas gaditanas and any other cantiña are considered influenced by the soleá.
  • Las saetas (the arrows) are related to the toná.

Baile en Gran Gala FlamencoFlamenco songs derived from fandango

These are the local songs derived from the Andalusian fandango. We differentiate between the local fandango and personal creation fandangos, as these are more recent and have less historical importance.

  • Fandangos locales
  • Verdiales
  • Rondeñas
  • Fandangos de Lucena
  • Cantes levantinos
  • Cante malagueños
  • Tarantas

Folk songs with flamenco vibes

Divided, in turn, by the geographical area from which they come, they aren’t strictly considered flamenco, it is a type of local cante with a flamenco air, and sometimes the flamenco touch stands out above its original soul.

  • Cantes aflamencados andaluces: sevillanas, peteneras, campanilleros or bambas, among others.
  • Gallant-asturian songs: garrotines and farrucas.
  • Latin American songs: Colombian, Habanera, Guajira, milongas and rumbas.

Main types of flamenco

Within flamenco, we distinguish, in turn, very differentiated cantes with their own identity, usually by their metrics, their rhythm and their themes. Next, we make a brief review of the mains flamencos type.

Bulerías

Its origin dates back to the late nineteenth century in Jerez, and its peculiarity is of being the cante festero or festive flamenco style for excellence. Even though its lyrics sometimes denote great sadness, because it corresponds and is related to the soleá type, in which it shares the test too. Some of the great masters of the bulerías were Antonio Mairena, Manolo Caracol and La Niña de los Peines.

Soleás

We can distinguish between 35 and 40 different types of soleá, an independent autochthonous cante whose name derives from the Castilian word solitude that constitutes one of flamenco’s basic pillars. Although originally, it was a cante for dancing, the contributions of singers such as Loco Mateo, La Serneta and El Mellizo raised the soleá’s to the high position in which it is now.

Alegrías (Joys)

The alegrías is considered one of flamenco’s most difficult dances exist within the category; it comes from the Aragonese jacks that Napoleon’s soldiers brought to Cadiz. The alegrías are a festive cante that follows the same rhythm of the soleá, although with a faster and more joyful rhythm.

Fandangos

Considered of Arabic origin and related to the Aragonese jota and Portuguese fado, fandango has a different personality depending on the area from which it comes; those from Huelva and the Malaga are the most widespread. It is a song formed by a couplet of 4 or 5 verses that do not follow predetermined beats.

Sevillanas en Gran Gala FlamencoTangos

Of uncertain origin, tango is one of flamenco’s basic songs, along with soleá and seguiriya. It shares the tempo rhythm, but it adapts very well to the inspiration and the Duende of the singer, which causes it to be in constant evolution. Highlights include the tangos of Cadiz and Los Puertos and tangos of Seville, Jerez and Malaga.

Sevillanas

One of the best-known flamenco styles in the world thanks to the dance that accompanies it, an agile, cheerful, lively and of great beauty. Of an obligatory presence in any fair, pilgrimage or meeting of 3 or more Andalusians. Sevillanas are a song that evolves over time, although the classic types are maintained: biblical, bowling, rocieras and corraleras, which use to be sung in the choirs.

 

If you want to enjoy the different styles and cantes of flamenco performed by the best professionals in a unique environment, do not miss the opportunity to attend the Gran Gala Flamenco show at the Palau de la Música Catalana. You will love it! Book your tickets now, and don’t miss out on flamenco in a way you can’t imagine.

 

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