Flamenco 101: Fundamentals

Six facts you should know about before you start your Flamenco Journey. Flamencos Online is a space to interact virtually, not only to express a shared experience but also to grow and learn with, and from, each other.

Flamenco 101: Fundamentals

Facts you should know before you start your Flamenco journey

  1. It developed in Andalusia over centuries that mixes different cultural influences such as Islamic, Andalucian, gypsy, Sephardic and Arabic.
Map of the Ziryab era. The black line indicates the possible trajectory between Sindh y Spain.

2. The typical flamenco outfit is called the Traje de Flamenca. Dresses are said to have a guitar shaped body, to enhance a woman’s figure. Heels are an essential and range from 4 – 7 cm in height. They can also have special nails in the soul to enhance their sound.

Foto de Anita Torres (https://www.anitatorresfotografia.com/) a Carmen Contreras, Bailaora

3. Castanets are not part of traditional flamenco; they are an element that has been added to enhance the finger snapping. These wooden percussion instruments are more than 3,000 years old and over time have become an iconic symbol of Spanish Flamenco.

Foto de Ainhoa Linaza Flamenco IG: @ainhoalianza

4. Flamenco is made up of four elements, Cante (Voice), Baile (Dance), Toque (Guitar), and the Jaleo, which roughly translated means ‘hell raising’ and involves the handclapping, foot stomping, and shouts of encouragement.

5. Rhythmic hand-clapping, known as palmas, is an important part of flamenco. There are two types of palmas, known as Palmas Sordas and Palmas Abiertas, which use different parts of the hand to produce different sounds.

6. Flamenco is divided into many different musical forms called “palos”. Each palo has a distinct set of musical features in terms of rhythm, mode and lyrics. During a flamenco performance, you may hear a flamenco singer say, for instance, “alegría”, “bulería” or “soleá”, in order to inform the audience what palo is going to be performed next.

Árbol del cante flamenco Manfredi Cano, D "Cante y baile flamencos, Everest, León, 1982: pg. 87. 

This article is a synthesis of What is flamenco? A brief introduction, 15 Things you didn’t know about flamenco, Six Intriguing Facts About Flamenco