Guitarra MagazineGuitarra Magazine HomeGuitars of SpainGuitar HistoryGuitar CatalogGuitar MuseumGuitar Photo Gallery
GUITAR HISTORY
Ricardo Nino
The guitar, in the Caló or gypsy vocabulary, means sonanta, and with it, the tocaores, or guitar players, express all shades of sentiment which surround the Andalusian flamenco folk song: seguidillas, soleares, malagueñas, palos, canas, martinetes, tanguillos, fandangos. The copla, Cante Andalusia, or flamenco, whose success is greatly owed to the gypsies, is a sorrowful melismatic song revolving around the note E. Its derivation extends through ancient mystical figures and ideas that symbolize sorrow, and among these symbolic figures is the flamingo bird which at one time populated the whole of the Mediterranean coast. Thus, the flamenco was adapted to describe the cante jondo of the gypsies in Andalusia. (Unamuno comes to say that the influence of the gypsy upon the people of Spain was greater than that of the Arab. The Andalusian musical bulk contains gypsy elements, however, the creation of this characteristic music is not of their own work.)

Flamenco originated in Andalusia, extended to Madrid and to all other areas of Spain, and then to the world radiating "that intellectual and affected existence within the tension of the jipio, the copla, and the gallant and virile plucking of the guitar." ("The cante jondo contains some of the common characteristics of oriental music, including Japanese music in certain forms; but the cante jondo also possesses elements of the jota, the Gallegan farruca, and the Castillian seguidillas, all of which have influenced flamenco", says Rafael Lafuente.)

Ramon Montoya
Through cante jondo flamenco, Andalusia discovered, after many long centuries, the inspiration of its sentiments and the expression of its own life. "The Highlands of Andalusia", Anselmo Gonzalez tells us, "hands itself over to a dense and tragic feeling about life. In the Low, in the Andalusia of the sea, the joyful gaditanas (cante grande) and the fandangos (cante chico) of Huelva symbolizes the coveted veins of temperament and sadness". In the former, "the segudrillas of Cordoba, the players allow themselves to be carried away by their own impulses -rebellion, fate, conflict, etc.- between heavy and obsessive clapping, and dark and abrupt strums of the guitar, in search of an ecstasy which soothes and balances.

"The silence within the cante grande", continues Anselmo Gonzilez, "represents a majestic and dramatic lull in which the guitar participates, for the guitar is, at given moments, a suggestive fountain of silences."

The soleares of Seville, the flamenco song from which all others stem, are similar to the seguidillas, but in a minor tonality, and have a much slower and sweeter silences. "The soleares give truce and advice, whilst the seguidillas, intolerant, intransigent, and fanatical, sail past that fate." It is from this song that the best interpreters of flamenco have raised in both mediums of guitar playing and dance.

Thus, the guitar converted many Spaniards into flamenco actors as in the cases of Ramón Montoya and Niño Ricardo, who rationalized intuitive beauty and the close union of slender but incisive suggestions.