Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Flamenco




On the busy streets of Malaga, a young Spaniard is found strutting round the fisherman’s corner to go about his business. He looks around and establishes himself next to a raised platform and begins with the strumming on his guitar. Very soon, he’s found to be encompassed with doubling tourists and localiites who stop by his side on the onset of a foot-tapping rhythm. The cheerful artist breaks into a traditional number and encourages people around him to join in with beats and claps. The crowd cheers on the appearance of an eccentric dancer dressed in blood red with frills coiled round her lower body. She wins many a heart by her intricate footwork and graceful movements. The young musician strums with great enthusiasm and adds flavours of other traditional styles to enhance the joyous ambiance. The dancer eloquently adapts to his changing styles and entertains the audience with her versatility. Her performance is effortless and adds to the celebratory moods of the evening.
The Espanol culture, widely known for its richness and savory, is all about bull-fights, the Tomatita festivities, wearisome paella preparations and jigging the flamenco way. On special occasions, people overtly participate in carnivals, play with red juicy tomatoes, shove mounds of vegetables, chicken and marisco’s (shellfish) on their platter and groove to the catchy rhythms of traditional Spanish music. The Flamenco is an art form originally belonging to the gypsies’ era in the 1500s that dominates Spanish lifestyle and culture. Undoubtedly a rich source of entertainment, it is packed with emotions, feelings and deeper social messages. It is sure to leave you intrigued with the complex sequencing of the guitar chords, a hint of drama and hysterics to the style of singing and the streaming delicacy in the actions of a dancer. Flamenco takes you through ruffling layers of thoughts and expressions with its impalpable spontaneity and variance.
Originally believed to be born in AndalucĂ­a, the indigenous song-dance form is a part of everyday life of the inhabitants. To them, flamenco is a spice of passion, ground with a hint of romance and pulped with stories of bravery and courage. The mountains and the rivers, the haunting past beneath the tropical paradise have each a story to tell which is materialized with women draped in colourful shawls and polka dots, castanets and a hand on the acoustic guitar. Apart from being known for its gypsy tradition, the culture of flamenco belongs to the Arabs, the Jews and also the Andalucians. The palo or the style of music is branched into melodic, rhythmic and harmonic structures, all of which are basic elements in every form of flamenco. The instrumentation in terms of tempo and pace has undergone revolutionary changes over the last few decades. Percussion instruments like the cajon (box-drum), bongo and the tinaja have added new elements to flamenco. Today, the acoustic guitar is accompanied by a series of foreign instruments to bring out new combinations in beat and melody.
The striking similarity in the flamenco and Indian music is hardly an element of surprise owing to its vast historical events; the records date back to the emigration of Indians to the west, the gypsy settlements from the European nations and the increasing Persian influence back home resulting in the inter-mingling of cultures amidst foreign invasion. The Persian culture carried a wealth of diverse musical inputs and scattered out bejeweled ornaments of regional melodies. Today, irrespective of the ‘Indalucian’ blend as a consequence of the past, maestros worldwide have adapted to fusion forms of music for the best possible results. Popular forms include flamenco bondage with South Indian music, flamenco feat Indian tabla and blends of Indian ragas with flamenco to name a few.
A more or less seductive invention of the Spanish, the authenticity of flamenco still remains to be an argumentative issue. Otherwise known as the tell-tale tragedies of the gypsies, the flamenco in its concocted form is far more popular than the original. Albeit infamous for its erotic essence, it is a benignant practice of rejoice, a reason for sentiments to captivate and inundate every Spanish mind.

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