The passion of Flamenco: El Cante Bueno Duele

The great Camarón de la Isla, in an interview in 1988, said : “El flamenco siempre es un pena, el amor es un pena tambien. En el fondo, todo es una pena y una alegría.” (*)… flamenco lovers know what he was talking about; Flamenco is so pure, so full of passion and pain, so powerful that it does hurt. These simple and universal themes which are by no mean exclusive to Andalucia, give to Flamenco a universal aspiration.

Moreover, in flamenco all that matters is the singing (cante), guitar skills (toque), dance (baile), the rythmic handclaps (palmas), and the good company. Beauty canons, age, wealth or the number of cameras around do not have the slightest importance. All this (and more!) puts flamenco at a high artistic position.

Martijn van Beenen and Ernestina van de Noort film-documentary on Jerez’ Morao dynasty in particular and flamenco in general is very interesting and worth watching. It captures the essence of flamenco and its different aspects: family, traditions, gypsies, guitar techniques, etc. As you would expect from the great Morao family, the film is full of wonderful performances. The title of the documentary says it all.

From the description of the video:

This film was made possible through the financial support of NTR television and the Dutch Flamenco Biennial. Cinematographer and director Martijn van Beenen and Ernestina van de Noort director of the Dutch Flamenco Biennial to travel to Jerez de la Frontera in search of the roots of flamenco. They met three generations of guitarists: Manuel Morao, Moraíto Chico and Diego del Morao. The Morao gypsy dynasty has put an indelible mark on the flamenco style from Jerez de la Frontera, one of the most prominent breeding grounds of flamenco. It emerged on the land around Jerez on the large farms where gypsies worked as day labourers. María Bala (76), sister of the great singer Manuel Soto Sordera and one of the last keepers of the old cante jondo, demonstrates how the primitive flamenco singing of the past sounded. With Manuel Morao, Moraíto Chico, Diego del Morao, Jesús Méndez, María Bala, José Mercé, Diego Carrasco y familia, El Bo, Chícharo and many others.

A friend from Jerez sent me some time ago this video footage, extracted from a Spanish documentary about the flamenco tradition of his town, to show me how innate this art is. Indeed, the (natural) performance of these kids is simply impressive! Enjoy the show:

(*) flamenco is always a pain, love is a pain too. As a matter of fact, everything is a pain and a joy

Links and references:
Camaron de la isla @ Flamenco-World
Camaron de la isla @ wikiquotes
Jerez (wikipedia)
Flamenco (wikipedia)


5 thoughts on “The passion of Flamenco: El Cante Bueno Duele

  1. The kids were really in the music and dance, very lovely. After watching the film, I get to understand a bit more about the music and emotion surrounding it, it is another culture I must say. When it speaks about the depth of music in the light of pain … (rather than routine), I am …. can’t find the right word!

    1. I think that the theme of pain/suffering is quite universal and goes back to the origin of art itself. However, the interesting thing here is that it is expressed through passion and life! The rhythm is not slow as in the Adagios of classical music (which usually express the feeling of pain and yearning in an introverted way).
      In the case of flamenco, pain is expressed with the whole body and is exteriorized.

      Incidently, I always found it curious that people find the adagios much more appealing than the other tempi.. basically all the popular classical music pieces are adagio movements. For instance, most of the people know from the moonlight sonata only the 1st movement (with which they refer to the whole sonata)… and never heard the (energetic) 2n and 3rn movements. I guess this is why classical music is more popular than baroque music..

      1. For people having a hectic life, listening to adagio pieces help to counter the stress, perhaps that’s the reason. Baroque sounds difficult by itself to most people, music of romantic period and age of classicism appear more approachable (to the ears).

        Moonlight sonata : I find the Presto agitato very appealing, it was believed that Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu op 66 was inspired from Beethoven’s Presto agitato, the fast passages of the two are so very similar.

        Glad that you write again, I want Bach, van Gogh, Degas, Beethoven, Handel, Darwish …. less flamenco …. please.

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