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RE: Books about Flamenco   You are logged in as Guest
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Brendan

Posts: 357
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Books about Flamenco (in reply to Harry

I’m reading Claude Worms’ Une Introduction musicale au flamenco. It has supplementary material here (audio clips and scores): https://www.unilim.fr/flamme/418

It’s very much a guitar player’s book, in that the descriptions of the palos are effectively recipes for accompanying them. He does interesting things like compares three versions of the same cante and has an argument that flamenco singing owes something to baroque bel canto. He assumes basic music theory and familiarity with Italian musical terms.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2024 10:42:44
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14912
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Books about Flamenco (in reply to Brendan

quote:

has an argument that flamenco singing owes something to baroque bel canto.


Anything specific, or a more general comparison?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2024 16:29:17
 
Brendan

Posts: 357
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Books about Flamenco (in reply to Ricardo

“If we set aside timbre, we notice a striking similarity between the criteria for appreciating flamenco cante and those of baroque bel canto
…we hypothesise that cante, in its technical aspects, is the last resurgence to date of a classical, virtuoso Iberian tradition of singing (particularly lively in Andalusia) associated with a baroque aesthetic… one can find a convergent series of historical clues starting in the Renaissance. In the XVI century, in the Papal States, castrati and women singers were banned from singing in church. They first had recourse to children for high voices, but the growing demands of composers for virtuosity quickly left them insufficient. They then employed Spanish falsetto singers, known as ‘spagnoletti’ who, it was said at the time, had learned their techniques from the Moors. The route between Spain and Rome often went through Naples, which was closely linked to the Spanish crown. The reign of the spagnoletti in Rome lasted through the second half of the XVI century, until the employment of the first castrato by Pope Clement VIII in 1601. We then lose track of the Spanish falsetto singers in Italy, but we return to Naples and Spanish singers at the end of the golden age of baroque bel canto. Manuel del Pópulo Vicente Garcia, a tenor and composer born in Seville, a friend of Rossini who would give him the role of Count Almaviva (‘The Barber of Seville’), and author of a European hit (the ‘Polo del contrabandista’) and great purveyor of ‘Spanish airs’ which were very fashionable at the time, sent his son Manuel Patricio to study in Naples with one of the last great castrati, Giuseppe April, who continued the school of Leonardo Leo. Manuel Patricio Garcia is the author of a Treaty on the Art of Singing (1847) which would remain a reference work for a long time. His younger sisters, Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot-García, are famous singers. Also, the zarzuela as an Andalusian song owes much to these vocal techniques, and we know their connections with ‘pre-flamenco’ tunes. Note, equally, that the majority of roles in baroque zarzuelas (including male characters) were written for ‘tiples’, that’s to say soprano singers, but with an extended lower register—the vocal range of most cantaoras is exactly that of the tiples. The musical exchanges between Naples and Madrid were intense during the whole XVIII century. Many musicians sustained their careers between the two courts, for which they composed interludes, cantatas, ‘entremises’, ‘zarzuelas’, etc, on texts in Italian, Neapolitan and Spanish: Leonardo Vinci, Giuseppe Petrini, Nicola Porpora, Francisco Corradini, Alessandro and Leonard Domenico Scarlatti, José de Nebra, Antonio Rodriguez de Hita, Pablo Esteve, Manuel Pla, Blas de Laserna, etc.. Rather than positing that the vocal sophistication of cante would have burst forth abruptly from nothing in the last third of the XIX century, it seems to us arguable that it is the latest link in a long chain of back and forth (ida y vuelta) between ‘classical’ and ‘popular’ musical practices. Remember that according to most specialists, the most illustrious of the founding fathers of cante was called Silverio Franconetti y Aguilar, born in Morón de la Frontera to a Roman father and an Andalusian mother, and that he probably learned the basics of his repertoire from María Borrico and El Fillo—when it comes to flamenco cante, Italians and Gypsies are Andalusians like any other, and vice versa… “. (pp. 92-3)

Over the page, he suggests that cante has a sort of baroque aesthetic in that a cante is like an aria. There’s no narrative, but rather the aim is to express an emotion using a brief text, much repetition, extended decoration on a single syllable, and whatever else the virtuoso singer has in the locker.

He puts in some hedging that I haven’t bothered to translate—this is a hypothesis, we’ll never know, these are just clues, etc.. The idea that flamenco is the result of interchanges between posh and popular music is a recurrent theme. “In the years 1860-1870, flamenco interludes were frequently programmed in Andalusian and Madrilene theatres, between the acts of an opera, or between two shorter zarzuelas. The first successful cantaores therefore rubbed shoulders with lyric singers. They were often presented as tenors or sopranos in the genero flamenco, and some of them had an eclectic repertoire, with Andalusian songs, tonadilla and cante. It is, therefore, not too adventurous to think that they had the intention to create an indigenous vocal art suitable to compete with lyric song.” He then tells the story of how for a brief moment bullfighting and flamenco were supported by the reactionary Andalusian aristocracy as cultural resistance to liberalism, modernity, economic and political reform, and all things French. Economic crisis in the 1860s caused the theatres to lower their prices, so a less wealthy audience got to hear all this stuff. But the political wind changed and the aristos and bourgeoisie ganged up to have flamenco banned from the theatres. That’s why Silverio had to open his own venue, the first café cantante.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2024 17:44:07
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14912
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Books about Flamenco (in reply to Brendan

Thank you so much for that. It seems to be very general focused on technique and tessitura (ranges of the cante melodies). I have to say I have no problem with the “rubbing shoulders” however, singers of all styles have exemplars of individuals that tap in to the “tenor voice technique” that is equivilent of the bel canto result…only they learn this intuitively and not through operatic training. The problem is even today, operatic training requires a specific repertoire (and you can see this on YouTube where opera enthusiasts have 20 guys singing the exact same aria ), so it is almost as if the technique is geared for a specific repertoire and only that.

So you can find a bel canto type technique in say Qwaali (check fez Ali fez etc.), obviously NOT informed whatsoever about opera, being Muslim spiritual discipline, and promoters wrongly notice an aesthetic to flamenco cante that both FEz and Chicuelo were frustrated by as it prevented the natural fusion everyone thought would happen there, gitanos being from Indian/Pakistan and all that BS. The singer points out right away both text and vocalization (technique) and how different it was. Going back to Planeta and Fillo, the argument there about vocal sound could have been about techniques as well. In the end we see some singers doing a personal vocalization (think of pop and rock techniques with speaking voices and variety of tonal types vs Opera) vs other cantaors using a tenor operatic tech. The capo proves the issue, and if it were true cantaores are tiples, etc, well, because of passagio facts of the voice, you would not see the huge variety of tessitura via capo placement for the SAME cantes. In other words, to the contrary of his statement, the movement of capo reveals DIFFERING TECHNICAL APPROACHES to the set melodies. The exact OPPOSITE of what bel canto teaches.

So you would think if the bell canto was part of the flamenco discipline, it would have eliminated the need for capos, just like modern sopranos and tenors don’t consider the luxury of telling the orchestra to lower or raise the key of the aria. (There are examples in fact but these are rare and for special reasons, not tessitura of the singers, or lack of singer comfort, etc. If you cant sing in the key you don;t work is the general rule). And all this goes without saying that the cante melodies themselves are not found in the Arias etc. At least I have not noticed any specific ones. Nor have i found the cantes in Makkam or Indian ragas, etc. The call to prayer example used being an isolated fragment for sure, but is not informing about structure and text relations to the fragments, rather just scalar modal relationships which frankly, in fragments, can be found in ALL melodies.

Also the bullfighter thing goes back much further as exemplified by Borrow and Solitario. (Planeta wears bullfighter jacket, and Borrow discovers “los del Aficion” going way back.

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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2024 18:40:10
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