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Es el cante dolorido, enojado y febril, iracundo, primario. Esa, y no otra, es la razón de que la malagueña del Mellizo mutara desde la brillantez de su concepción primera al estado de melancolía que le imprimen Aurelio y sus seguidores. Porque sin este cambio estético que se dio en el mundo del flamenco, probablemente el mensaje de Aurelio Sellés hubiese quedado desatendido.
Thanks for this article. I love this topic and in fact I went into depth about this cante earlier and compared the recordings discussed…at the time with an emphasis on the guitar.
The thing about it was the guitar changed the form or structure of the cante from a “Fandango” form, which can be heard used in the Nino de la Isla recording of 1910 which clearly doesn’t work properly with the melody (the one implied as the ORIGINAL melody by the article, and I know exactly what they are talking about speaking note by note) and it seems that with Montoya playing for Vallejo that the “change” of the form began to develop. I don’t feel the melody differences described was the main culprit there, rather the instinct of the guitarists that the darn tonos of Fandangos don’t really work. We know the anecdote claim that Mellizo stole this song from church or Gregorian chant (I actually would love if someone can point to proper source of that anecdote…maybe it is in that 2019 book mentioned in the article?), and that basically explains why the melody is a “force-fit” into the fandango structure. It was never a fandango nor a malagueña either, but something else that was borrowed and reworked.
The problem I have with this type stuff is the conclusion I quoted points to something that is actually musically technical…and these flamencologists don’t speak in those terms. Basically there are two melodies of this cante, Chico and grande (doble they call it), and it refers to the PITCHES of the melody. Starting with the first lines of verse, the melody of higher pitch moves up from C to E and back down to C. That is what the authors consider as “more difficult” and for silly reasons they want to argue he lowered the notes to the Chico version because he was “old” or sick and lost his ability to sing higher pitches. In perspective of music, the Chico melody holds a C note and drops down to A….exactly diatonic thirds below the other melody. 2 things. Number one–just because notes are higher in the same key, doesn’t mean they are MORE difficult to sing. Think of all the harmony vocalists that sing thirds above the main melody in almost every style of music on earth. That means the harmony vocal guys are BETTER or YOUNGER or whatever you want than the main vocalists that sing the third below??? Of course not guys, this a musical understanding issue, not a physical technique issue or “faculties” like aficionados like to say. Which brings us to the NEXT point.
Why not LOWER THE CAPO and sing the normal melody? Like juan Talega got old and kept singing and siguiriyas had to move into por Arriba. He didn’t stop singing the cante styles because he couldn’t reach the darn notes! He just had the guitar lower the capo or play in a lower key if they ran out of room. That is how flamenco ALWAYS operated since the invention of the Cejilla (I assume by Mellizo’s final days it existed already). Now there could be an argument there, perhaps Mellizo had a Por medio/por arriba conception for the two melodies, not unlike Gloria and his two fandangos. Mixing Granaina with Mellizo’s malagueña is pretty standard and in the same key Granaina is almost too low….that is a better explanation for the lower pitches. But honestly a diatonic third apart is not a big deal (unless the main melody is way up in the high tenor range).
My theory, and is emphasized by singers like Terremoto jr, unlike his dad, he mixed the TWO melodies into one letra. Meaning the Chico is the first line, the grande or “Doble” the second line, and the ending works the same for both. THAT situation makes more musical sense to me such that we have a slightly better fit to Fandango….but the main issue with Mellizo is the 4th line of verse that is supposed to call in the G or dominant chord…and neither melody actually does that. As I said, I traced back the break of the Fandango form to Montoya’s era where he starts to introduce the Am, and quickly escape the G7 dissonance on the 4th line (a sort of hit and run). These are all very technical details about the music that are unfortunately necessary if people are gonna start tossing out theories about why cantes are alike or different.
As to clues to how or when the cante libre took over from the dance form, on page 299-300 here, the author already having a clear understanding of danceable malagueñas, takes note of something quite different vocally going on with the female singer from Cadiz (Dolores from pages before), which sounds suspiciously like our free style malagueñas going on a decade before Mellizo’s birth: https://archive.org/details/escenasandaluzas00estb/page/300/mode/2up
EDIT: Looks like am not alone regarding my last theory there. Turns out Dolores was probably Enrique’s mother in law!!! . Pause and read the bottom of the page at 2:10
I'd choose Malaguena de Lecuona over Malaguena de Mellizo. But I do enjoy his Soleares. Here is Soleares de Mellizo sung by Chaconcito in 1929. Ramon Montoya's toque was ahead of its time in this recording.
I'd choose Malaguena de Lecuona over Malaguena de Mellizo.
Don't worry, you may recover from this with the passage of time.
Not long after I started listening to flamenco I had sense enough to prefer Sabicas and Escudero to Carlos Montoya as he was in the late 1950s, but when there was a track with cante on the LP I would pick up the arm and move it to the next number.
After a few years I began to hear that many of the guitar pieces were actually related to the cante. These days I very seldom listen to a solo guitar piece. If I put on a flamenco recording it is almost always cante.
That is how flamenco ALWAYS operated since the invention of the Cejilla (assume by Mellizo’s day it existed already).
The invention of the cejilla is usually atributed to Patiño, though the evidence is anecdotal. I imagine that other artefacts might have existed before. Patiño was born in 1829, Mellizo in 1848.
José Millán told me that he and el Niño del Mentidero used to practice together with a tocaor who had an old guitar but no cejilla. So when one sang, the other placed his index finger at the appropriate fret to act as cejilla
I ended up purchasing the book “malagueñas, creadores y estilos”….huge text book with 689 pages, but really nicely done. Transcriptions look pretty good, a note here or there I disagree with but for the most part a fabulous collection, I highly recommend to aficionados of Malagueñas and cante in general. Comes with a CD (I have not listened to it yet as I am quite familiar with many of the cante examples transcribed).