Flamenco is one of the most passionate and interesting forms of art. It is a perfect combination of music and dance in which the former lies at the unique heart of this folk display. When you dig deeper into the study of flamenco, you will find out there are different types, also known as palos, each of them with their own features as regards tune and dance performance. Keep on reading to learn more about the types of flamenco.
What Are the Differences Among the Types of Flamenco?
First, the different genres can be divided into two metric groups: the melodies that follow a rigid measure and those with free rhythm. While the most popular ones keep on using the traditional approach, there are some palos which are more versatile and are open to creation and innovation. In this respect, we could compare flamenco with poetry, which can also contain a fixed metrical pattern or free verse.
How Many Types of Flamenco Are There?
There are more than 50 different types of flamenco. However, taking into account that improvisation and each singer’s, cantaor, own creative input are an essential part of this art, it could be said that there are as many palos as artists who add their personal touch to the songs.
Though difficult for the untrained eye, the key to distinguish between the genres is to pay attention to two elements. First, the compás, its meter, which can be made up of 2, 3, 4, or 12 beats. Second, the salient beat or accentuated pulse, which makes it possible to tell the difference between palos with the same compás.
The palos measured in binary beats of 2 or 4 are the tantos, the rumba and the tientos. Whereas, the fandangos and the sevillanas have a compás of 3 beats and the alegrías, the soleás and the bulerías use a compás of 12 beats.
The 7 Most Famous Types of Flamenco
Not all genres of flamenco are equally known. Below, we teach you useful information to recognize the seven most familiar types.
There is no doubt that this is the most popular genre of flamenco all around the world. Without exception, sevillanas are danced in every Andalusian festival, especially in its homeland, Seville. This is a palo of fixed metrical pattern based on a compás made up of 3 beats, of which the first one is a salient beat and the other two are less accentuated.
Without a doubt, this is the most cheerful type of flamenco. lt can be recognised in any party because of its joyful compás and its fast rhythm based on a compás with double rhythm and ofíbeats accents. Usually, this is the style danced at the end of a party. The dancers form a semicircle and, one at a time, go to the center to show off their talents, resulting in a very loud sound suggesting tumult from the ones who remain in the circle.
Even though it also follows a compás of 12 beats, just like the alegrías and the bulerías, the soleá is much more slower and deliberate, which makes it the perfect style for a soloist bailaora, the female dancer, to show off on stage with expressive and sensual movements, though serious, matching the somber lyrics of this songs.
With a rhythm much faster than the soleá, even though they follow the same compás, this flamenco style is much more cheerful and dynamic, originally from Cadiz and ¡ts cantiñas. lgnacio Espeleta, who is considered the biggest exponent of the alegrías, popularized the introduction “tiriti tran tran tran…” that usually heard before an alegría.
Apart from being solemn and formal, it is also one of the hardest to perform, owing to its lack of ornamentation, which gives major importance to the emotions rather than the structure.
Traditionally, the verses of siguiriyas are constructed of 4 lines: two short 6 syllable lines, followed by a longer 11 syllable line, then ending with another 6 syllable line.
This is one of the most archaic kinds of flamenco. lt is a combination of traditional songs coming from different origins, such as Arabic and Portuguese. In fact, when hearing its compás the Portuguese fado comes to mind and there are different types of fandangos in cultures and countries all over the world.
Tango follows a 4-beat compás, with a joyful and cheerful rhythm that can be executed in any tonality. lt allows for stanzas of any length —although the most common one is four verses long, each made up of 8 syllables— and many styles, such as the taranto, farruca, tientos or mariana, end with a tango.