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NormanKliman

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Niño Ricardo interview comment 

Don't know if this has been posted before, but it certainly can't hurt. I dedicate this to anyone who's ever noticed that the same accompaniment pattern won't work well for all the cantes of a single style:

La guitarra está en un buen momento, aunque haya que reconocer que hoy cualquiera es guitarrista. Nos deberíamos hacer una pregunta, en este difícil mundo del flamenco, sin embargo: ¿Cuántos, de veras, saben lo que es la guitarra? Porque no basta con conocer cómo se acompaña unas soleares, unas seguiriyas o unas malagueñas, sino distinguir, desde el primer ay, si esas soleares son de Joaquín de la Paula, o esa(s) seguiriyas de Manuel o de Silverio, o esas malagueñas del Canario, Chacón o la Trini... Para dar su pausa. Para alargar un tercio o acortarlo...

Today's guitarists play well, but it has to be said that today anyone can call himself a guitarist. There's one thing, though, that we should ask ourselves in this difficult world of flamenco: How many guitarists really know what the guitar is? It's not enough to know how to accompany soleares, seguiriyas or malagueñas because you have to know, right from the very first "ay," whether those soleares are in the style of Joaquín de la Paula, whether those seguiriyas are in the style of Manuel or Silverio, or whether those malagueñas are in the style of El Canario, Chacón or La Trini: in order to wait for the singer at just the right moment and to lengthen or shorten a particular line of verse...

(Taken from an interview with Niño Ricardo conducted by Manuel Barrios and published in the Seville edition of ABC newspaper on 27 November 1969.)

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 10:30:20
 
marduk

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

sounds like good advice (to be familiar with the style of many different singers, and to know many ways to accompany the same letras)
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 11:19:10
 
Ricardo

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

Cool would like to hear more from the interview if you have
it. Saddly I don't notice the same diversity of styles with pro singers
today as in Niño Ricardo's day. If the singer wants solea it's
usually alcala.... solea por bulerias is always buleria larga plus
plus frijones, etc... I blame it on baile structure, but it's my opinion.

Hey Norman, did you see the n Ricardo falseta challenge?
I wonder if he ever do a syncopated arp like that when accomp
a singer or if he was just indulging the solo guitarist in him...

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 19:23:38
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 22:24:09
 
Ricardo

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

Also siguiriyas is well mapped on Normans site.

I feel generations show some improvements in guitar and
baile, but general complaints about cante being more creative
and simply better in the past are warranted IMO. since the
last creators died in the 70s things have not developed much IMO

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 23:02:41
 
srshea

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

I spent Saturday and Sunday listening to Tomas Pavon’s Joaquin de la Paula soleas (Valgame Dios, etc.), over and over, tracking how he fits the verse into the compas, streeeeeeeetching a single word over the span of a compas and a half or squishing two lines together, and trying to make sense of how Melchor marks compas all the while. The fact that I have to do this for dozens more styles, and then start all over again for siguiriyas, makes my head swim, but I can’t think of anything better to do right now.

If anyone out there hasn’t checked Norman’s solea page in a while, it’s worth doing so. He recently refined the categorization of the styles, listing the ones that are most common, least common, etc., really narrowing things down in a very helpful way for anyone interested in figuring all this stuff out.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 27 2012 23:47:01
 
akatune

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 0:18:22
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

...(to be familiar with the style of many different singers, and to know many ways to accompany the same letras)


The "melody" of each style of cante, in particular, which of course includes the pauses, the lines of verse that are linked and those that are sung separately, etc. You start with that kind of intuition and wait to see what the singer does.

quote:

If the singer wants solea it's usually alcala.... solea por bulerias is always buleria larga plus frijones, etc... I blame it on baile structure, but it's my opinion.


Also, the adversity toward Mairena since his death. Many singers shun styles because they're too closely associated (?) with Mairena.

quote:

...did you see the n Ricardo falseta challenge? I wonder if he ever do a syncopated arp like that when accomp a singer or if he was just indulging the solo guitarist in him...


I did see that and thought it was a good choice. I remember struggling with that one for a few months. Niño Ricardo used it for at least one cante recording with Mairena. I think it's one of those 10-minute soleás (which require a lot of falsetas), but as I recall it's in the intro. I'll have to check when I have more time.

Kevin's quote nearly echoes that of Niño Ricardo. Good one.

quote:

...since the last creators died in the 70s things have not developed much IMO


The concept of "antithesis" has come into play, which never used to exist. In other words, making radical changes in an attempt to come up with "creations." Basically, everyone up to Morente changed small details in the cantes.

quote:

The fact that I have to do this for dozens more styles, and then start all over again for siguiriyas, makes my head swim, but I can’t think of anything better to do right now.

If anyone out there hasn’t checked Norman’s solea page in a while, it’s worth doing so.


Yeah, if you haven't got anything better to do. If it's any consolation, when I haven't thought about some of the styles for some time, I often have to check notes, and, even more often, when I'm listening to a live performance, the analytical part of me takes a back seat and I have to make an effort to categorize what I've just heard. But with maybe 15 styles of soleá and 10 styles of siguiriya in your head, you'll be able to identify almost anything recorded or live.

quote:

Sorry Sabicas, **** has changed. Things fade into the past.

Change, the only universal truth.


Sorry, that's not how flamenco works. The "tuxedo-concert" guitarists are an anachronism, but you'd be surprised how many old ideas are recycled.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 8:16:24
 
KMMI77

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:



Also, the adversity toward Mairena since his death. Many singers shun styles because they're too closely associated (?) with Mairena.


What is the reason for the adversity? Why is Mairena disliked?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 9:05:55
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to KMMI77

quote:

Why is Mairena disliked?


Short answer: He was good and people are jealous.

Long answer: He pissed off lots of people because he defended the importance of gyspies in flamenco. He won an important singing contest that was set up in his favor, he coauthored a very important book, he cut many records and was considered to be the maximum authority for at least the last 20 years of his life. People got tired of him, and the less scrupulous members of the community thought it would be fun to give his corpse an irreverent kick. Some of the harshest criticism came from those who had looked up to him religiously.

Basically, it has to do with racial issues, misinterpretation of his work and new research methods.

Very often, his detractors use words like "thief," "liar" and "queer" (homosexual) because, respectively, (1) he would travel to other towns to learn and perfect local cantes, (2) he attributed many obscure styles to gypsies who had died many years before, and (3) he never married.

Analyzing all of this would take up an entire book and maybe burn a hole in any kind of Internet forum, but, I'll briefly counter this criticism, respectively. (1) He never claimed to be the creator of any of the cantes from his many recordings (although he pretty clearly was). For example, he used to come to Jerez regularly, even after he became famous, to learn and perfect cantes. When he recorded an album of those cantes, he titled it "Antonio Mairena y el cante de Jerez." Camarón was another (of many) who would make an effort to meet little-known singers to learn their cantes, but nobody criticizes him. Mairena won the lottery twice and was able to use the money to finance his research. As I've said before, he was the right guy in the right place at the right time. (2) Aside from what appear to be a few minor mistakes, his attributions still stand up today, and modern research is confirming much of the information in his coauthored book. His critics have chilled out a bit in the last few years, but it was commonplace for them to take a sentence or two out of context and ridicule him. It's said that the co-authored book portrays non-gypsies Silverio and Chacón in an unfavorable light, but I've been reading it for years and I honestly don't think that's a fair assumption. The biggest mistake made by almost all of his detractors is to confuse the content of his coauthored book with that of a ghost-written autobiography. Parts of the latter tend toward the mystical/fantastic and, apparently, some people took them seriously and felt embarrassed afterward. I mean, would anyone in their right mind insist that Robert Johnson really did meet the Devil at a crossroad? (3) It's nobody's damn business what he did with his weenie. Could there be anything less interesting?

Much more to be said, but in the end you have to find out for yourself. Either you like his singing or not, but nearly all of Mairena's claims and cantes are based on historical evidence or common knowledge.

Check out his recordings here:
http://www.antoniomairena.com/index.php?option=com_muscol&view=artist&id=2&layout=grid&Itemid=61

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 10:17:13
 
KMMI77

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

Thanks for the info and link Norman,


I have always liked the cante i have heard from him. I find his style very strong and definite.

I personally find it difficult to get into the politics and analysis of this type of information. It would probably be different if i lived in spain and had a variety of singers to play for, who could actually sing in the various styles.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 11:13:06
 
orsonw

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to KMMI77

I felt overwhelmed initially, thinking how can I even begin to know all the different variations?!

Perhaps Andalucian guitarists started with just the cantes that were local to them and gradually expanded from there? I imagine not many guitarists know everything? It seems daunting because I can see the size of the whole mountain of knowledge, due to great research like Norman's.

I find it is very hard to learn this stuff without a singer, my attitude is to work with different singers and learn different cantes one at a time. I am simply an aficionado so I don't have the pressure of trying to know it all and be a professional. But I am happy and grateful to learn whatever little I can and I am very grateful to play and perform with singers on a regular basis and little by little I learn (and forget!) variations in cantes/letras.

Thank you to Norman, Ricardo, Kevin and others for sharing their knowledege and experience, I find it very useful and inspiring.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 11:41:51
 
kudo

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:

Mairena

they talk about him for a bit here:

here is spb:


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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 12:23:09
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Cool would like to hear more from the interview if you have it.


From the blog "Papeles flamencos":
http://www.papelesflamencos.com/2009/12/manuel-barrios-entrevista-nino-ricardo.html

The interview was posted three years ago. Excellent material on this blog. One of the latest uploads, an interview with Pepe Pinto, also has very interesting comments. There's also an interview with Chocolate including one my favorite quotes: No hay que ser mejor artista sino mejor persona.

quote:

I wonder if he ever do a syncopated arp like that when accomp
a singer


In the intro to Mairena's "Si las piedras de tu calle" (over 11 minutes long!).
http://www.antoniomairena.com/index.php?option=com_muscol&view=song&id=162

Right after that, there's another cool falseta that's guaranteed to surprise anyone who's paying attention to compás. There are probably more examples of the challenge falseta on vinyl, but both falsetas go back to 78-rpm disks.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 18:05:00
 
akatune

 

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 18:15:49
 
srshea

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:

Also, the adversity toward Mairena since his death. Many singers shun styles because they're too closely associated (?) with Mairena.


I'm familiar with some of the general beefs that people have with Mairena, but I didn't know that this extended to actual cantes he sung. Is this in regards to the cantes that he "recreated" or to other stuff as well?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 18:26:26
 
Ricardo

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

Good find Norman! I have some things to say about mairena but
typing w one finger sucks .... Revisit this topic later

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 20:05:36
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to srshea

quote:

Most fans lack either the personal history, trained ear our material resources for that type of in depth understanding.


Maybe so, and it doesn't disqualify them as fans, but if you're commenting on the course of development of flamenco, their only influence would be as paying customers. Maybe I've misunderstood you.

quote:

Perhaps Andalucian guitarists started with just the cantes that were local to them and gradually expanded from there?


Of course. They play the best fandangos in Huelva, the best bulerías in Jerez, etc.

quote:

...I didn't know that this extended to actual cantes he sung. Is this in regards to the cantes that he "recreated" or to other stuff as well?


A lot of the other stuff can be found on pre-vinyl recordings. Singers who don't listen to Mairena would have no exposure to some of those cantes. For example, the soleá La Andonda 1 has always been popular, but the style La Andonda 2, which also goes back to the earliest recordings, is only sung by singers who like Mairena. The style that the Solers call La Andonda 3 is one of those recreations (it's not on any of those old recordings). You never hear that one, although I guess the mairenistas have recorded it. Continuing with soleá, another example would be singing all those Alcalá styles one after another (Joaquín, Agustín and remembering Juan).

Things changed a lot after Franco died and, as akatune has pointed out, change is bound to happen.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 28 2012 23:20:13
 
Ricardo

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:

Long answer: He pissed off lots of people because he defended the importance of gyspies in flamenco. He won an important singing contest that was set up in his favor, he coauthored a very important book, he cut many records and was considered to be the maximum authority for at least the last 20 years of his life. People got tired of him, and the less scrupulous members of the community thought it would be fun to give his corpse an irreverent kick. Some of the harshest criticism came from those who had looked up to him religiously.


I actually did not realize he was so controversial. I always assumed he was simply one of the greats....in fact the first times I heard his name was in a PDL biography where the story of accompanying him was related and PDL's humbleness for an old master was the focus....how proud he was that Mairena actually accepted what he did as a good job and he was nervous so tried to imagine he was melchor playing in order to make him feel more comfortable with such a young hot shot star player. Later the documentary Light and Shade had an interviewee talking about R. Montoya, N. Ricardo and PDL being pillars of guitar, then mentioned Mairena as "the greatest singer EVER" and showed a clip of Mellizo Malagueña with Mairena singing the dramatic ending.

Those events painted a larger then life picture of Mairena for me and years later as I developed more wide taste for cante and saw the programs in Rito y Geografia, I got a new perspective. I honestly feel that as a researcher and investigator his contribution is invaluable, and his skills as a singer are very good. But I feel some of the other singers that did not have as impressive quantity regarding repertoire, made more impact on me with quality of expression. Just a few names like Caracol for instance, terremoto or Paquera really seemed to me in a much higher level interms of just using the voice as an instrument, singing a melody with emotion. Mairena himself says he worked very hard to record things perfectly and was forced to sacrifice at times the expression. I also have come to a point I tend to agree with him on points about the difference of gypsy vs non gypsy singing....of course guitar is something else.

Personally I find a nice little space for each master singer....it's actually great we don't have simply one best singer for all styles of cante. An interesting note about Rito y Geografia was that there are a couple of features on Mairena (shows the producers seemed to really like his work) and one was about the Golden Key of cante he was awarded. They don't mention any of his competators but I read some where one of them was Platero de Alcala. His program is featured on the same remastered disc as that episode with Mairena. The point of Platero's feature was that there exists the great unknown artists that have amazingly high ability. Every singer I have ever worked with and had a chance to show that program to is amazed by Platero....I mean they usually jump out of the seat and exclaim WTF who is that guy why have I never heard of him???? Its kind of a pathetic sad episode but the singing is amazing and hard to believe for me as an outsider that that guy could not beat ANY singer in a competition of any sort.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 29 2012 16:19:55
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

But I feel some of the other singers that did not have as impressive quantity regarding repertoire, made more impact on me with quality of expression. Just a few names like Caracol for instance, terremoto or Paquera really seemed to me in a much higher level interms of just using the voice as an instrument, singing a melody with emotion.


Many aficionados in Spain, perhaps the majority, feel the same way and mention those same names when talking about this. The names aren't too surprising, because Terremoto and Paquera were greatly influenced by Caracol, so it all comes down to Caracol vs. Mairena, which used to be one of those divisions among aficionados.

I mentioned upthread some unfortunate words that are often thrown around when people bad-mouth Mairena. The other kind of criticism (much more reasonable) is that he was perfect but cold. Nearly everyone agrees on that, although people who partied with him say that he was anything but cold when singing live. On some concert recordings, he does sound more relaxed and artistic.

About this "coldness," Mairena cut many albums and some sound better than others. Some of his earliest are very good. During the period in which he won the "golden key" award, he made a few anthologies that aren't particularly exciting. They're textbook perfect but not as exciting as one might expect. After that, he made a few more good recordings, but he sounds a little tired on the last ones with Melchor and son Enrique, although there are still some gems, especially on "Esquema histórico..." which is all soleás and siguiriyas. The last commercial recording, with Pedro Peña, is fresher but it sounds like his voice was less flexible and less in control.

quote:

They don't mention any of his competators but I read some where one of them was Platero de Alcala.


As I've already said, it looks like that singing contest was set up in Mairena's favor. They say that everyone knew beforehand that he was going to be chosen as the winner, but, apparently, it was understood that it was a way of paying him tribute, rather than just being a scam. Chocolate and Fosforito were two others who competed.

quote:

...so tried to imagine he was melchor playing in order to make him feel more comfortable with such a young hot shot star player.


If I remember correctly, Paco also says in that same footage that at that time everyone tried to play like Melchor and sing like Mairena. Another clue as to why later generations of singers might shun Mairena.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 29 2012 18:38:46
 
srshea

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

quote:

...The names aren't too surprising, because Terremoto and Paquera were greatly influenced by Caracol, so it all comes down to Caracol vs. Mairena, which used to be one of those divisions among aficionados....


Ha, I was just about to add my own thoughts to Ricardo’s statement about preferences, but this puts an interesting spin on things. For me singers end up falling into two basic categories: those I listen to for and with pleasure, and those I listen to out of a certain sense of duty, because I know they’re important developmentally and that there’s a lot to be learned from listening to them. It’s not always a sharp black and white division, but there are singers like Pastora, Fernanda, Rancapino, Selles, Agujetas (with Caracol, Paquera, and Terremoto very high on the list) who I get a great deal of enjoyment listening to and whose singing truly moves me, and there are guys like Chacon, Mairena, Menese, Fosforito, who I listen to more out of obligation and who I’m rarely moved by. I’ve always ascribed this to purely subjective taste and personal preference regarding each singer’s approach to their art (which I suppose it ultimately is), but it hadn’t really occurred to me that there might also be certain lineal connections between “schools” of approach and their followers behind some of the lines I've drawn.

I always try to appreciate each artist for what they have to offer and not let my own preferences lead me to unfairly and subjectively label them in a certain way. It seems like this happens with PDL all the time, when people label him as “cold” or “emotionless”. Personally, his playing doesn’t move me in the way that, say, Melchor’s or Cepero’s does, but I would never call his playing “cold”, which would be dumb. There’s obviously a great deal of emotion in his playing, and that’s abundantly apparent to me, regardless of the degree to which I connect with that emotion personally. Uh, guess I’m starting to ramble. I don’t want to sound too goody-goody about it (because I’m not at all immune to this kind of thing), but it’s very easy for people to get too precious about their opinions and responses and end up projecting that stuff onto an artist, ascribing certain qualities or lack of qualities to what they do. Not very fair, but I guess we all do it. I just try as much as I can, when it comes to “emotion” and “feeling” in art, to always keep a clear distinction between my own reactions and an artist’s own experience and intentions, particularly in cases when something doesn’t really move me. Blah, blah.

I’m familiar with the term “Mairenista” as a general sort of label of division between Caracolistas and, later, Camaronistas, but which singers actually fall under that label? Obviously his brothers, and Menese, too. Who else?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 29 2012 20:08:38
 
vuduchyld

 

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

Just wanted to say thank you for this educational thread! Back to lurk mode...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 29 2012 21:46:05
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Feb. 29 2012 22:58:10
 
srshea

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to NormanKliman

I just re-watched the Agujeta episode of Rito y Geografia, and there's a bit where Agujetas Viejo is talking about combining the corrida with alborea, and that lots of singer do it "Just like Mairena, though he probably thinks he's the only one who can do that." He looks very pleased with himself, and Manuel cracks up and sheepishly looks at the camera, like a school kid who's getting away with doing something behind the teacher's back.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 1 2012 2:26:48
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to Guest

quote:

Chaqueta "corrected" Mairena on several occasions.


We dealt with this in another thread (toward the end of my second post).

http://www.foroflamenco.com/tm.asp?m=85767&appid=&p=&mpage=1&key=chaqueta&tmode=&smode=&s=#85944

You don't have to take my word on anything, but I have to wonder when the same misunderstandings keep coming back. The correct information is right there in the book on the pages I mentioned.

quote:

...which singers actually fall under that label?


In an obvious way, Curro Malena, Lebrijano and others. But it seems clear that many singers have listened to Mairena at one point or another for siguiriyas, tonás and a few other styles. Others draw on Mairena in those styles without actually being "followers." Two who immediately come to mind are Manuel Moneo and Diego Rubichi.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 1 2012 7:56:39
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 1 2012 15:34:08
 
NormanKliman

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RE: Niño Ricardo interview comment (in reply to Guest

quote:

Unfortunately, I don't always remember where I read something because, being in graduate school, I have other fish on the grill.


Understandable, as there's so much information to keep track of. I usually have to check references before posting and, as I said upthread, when listening to live cante, I have to make an effort to categorize what I've just heard. People who know me know that I've made mistakes on a number of occasions in that context.

quote:

For me, we must ask where Mairena got them even if we recognize that he was a great innovator.


I agree completely. I spent several years looking for the possible origins of the soleá that the Solers classify as La Andonda 3. In the end it's all conjecture, but, provided that assumptions are sound, it's better than nothing.

quote:

You yourself have noted that Mairena's critics have pointed out his creativity and his bigotry (depending on the critic) in his endeavor to save the cante.


About the bigotry, he apparently toned down certain attitudes toward the end of this life. There's even a quote in which he praises Enrique Morente (who also received praise from Aurelio and others).

quote:

However, again, if we wish to better understand the development (early history) of the cante in general, recognizing his innovation is not going to help.


I may be misunderstanding you, but we must take into account the possibility of random occurrences and flights of fancy. There's not going to be an antecedent for every little detail in an artist's performance. Perrate, a puro singer if ever there was one, would invariably combine several different styles of soleá in a single cante after singing for hours at parties.

quote:

Who is your second quote directed at? I couldn't find it.


srshea. Search function: control+F, copy and paste, enter.

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