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RE: Least favourite palos?   You are logged in as Guest
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[Poll]

Least favourite palos?


Solea
  0% (0)
Alegrias
  13% (4)
Bulerias
  3% (1)
Siguiriyas
  3% (1)
Tangos
  10% (3)
Rumba
  24% (7)
Granaina
  0% (0)
Taranta
  0% (0)
Farruca
  3% (1)
Malaguena
  6% (2)
Fandangos
  6% (2)
Tientos
  6% (2)
Other
  6% (2)
Sevillanas
  3% (1)
Garrotin
  10% (3)


Total Votes : 29


(last vote on : Dec. 4 2023 3:20:45) 
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Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

But when I look up his thesis, I find it is about jarabes, and his PhD was earned at the Universidad Autónoma de Mexico.


Perhaps you did not realize the video about Petenera I posted earlier, is HIM (!!!!), and considered the most recent update to the research in discussion. Again that is where I point out MELODY is ignored utterly IMO.

quote:

In fact, having spent 43 years earning my living as mathematician, physicist and engineer, I find the--shall I say--"fluidity" of flamencología both amusing and frustrating. I am reminded of Richard Brune saying that among flamencos of his acquaintance, "flamencologist" was a curse word.

But Brune couldn't resist writing a little flamenco lore, and the great Antonio Mairena contributed a lot of it--much of it controversial.


Yes, my feeling for a long time too, and well, honestly, I have been down the rabbit hole recently and will eventually write something myself. Mairena is one of few I actually agree with, ironically, in certain topics. So I am a bit reluctant to join the club there. For example, since Mairena has been poo-pooed by academic writers on the subject, mainly for his pro-gitano stance, there are layers upon layers upon layers of “scholarship” that have negated his material, even to use as a cited source. Such that “peer review” would never allow someone such as myself to ignore all those layers and matter of factly cite Mairena on a subject I felt he was “correct” about, along with new evidence. This is not science where you can just present your 5 sigma data that supports your conclusion. No, I would have to first address all the layers of refutation, explain why they were all wrong, one by one, then finally present the alternative that demonstrates Mairena was on the right track. That is why, in these type of fields you can find a layer of footnotes and citations that far exceeds the main text on a page. . People are forced to “parrot” other claims before they can say one single new thing. Having been a hands on, rubber meets the road, matter of fact type learner with flamenco, it is not something I am looking forward to get involved in, hence my slight reluctance.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 30 2023 12:23:45
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

As a professional writer of unmathematical, rhetoric-heavy, fashion-tossed, humanities guff of over thirty years standing let me say:

1) You’re not wrong. You must get your footnotes in order or you won’t get to say your thing. You especially cannot just cite as an authority someone who is not accepted as such (for whatever reason).

2) There are ways of doing this efficiently. If you know what you’re doing, you don’t have to plough through all the layers and review the whole literature. There’s art and skill to this, but it’s not obvious and you can’t just rock up and do it right first go.

So get help! There are a few on the foro who do have this skill set, and we all owe you.

_____________________________

https://sites.google.com/site/obscureflamencology/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 3 2023 0:59:18
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

So get help! There are a few on the foro who do have this skill set, and we all owe you.


I have gotten some good feedback and support behind the scenes, but there are still some frustrating aspects. For example, earlier in the thread I shared Jaramillo’s video about Peteneras and make an important (to me anyway) point about the melody, and then shared a Sevillana with no comment. Did you understand that post I made and the relevance of the Sevillana? In other words, the interpretation of evidence is the challenging thing to get across. What is obvious and clear to ME is often NOT to others. Let me know, maybe I will send you my stuff if you DO understand and want to help.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 3 2023 18:18:57
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

I think I get it. But noticing melodies in distinct contexts is not part of my professional competence. I’m talking about stuff like helping PhD students to write literature reviews, course design, examining PhDs, reviewing articles for journals. In other words, either helping students to find order in the overwhelming mass of stuff in the library, or asking whether a new piece of academic work has the right relationship with the existing literature.

Your complaint was that you can’t say something about (e.g.) Mairena without putting on a show of familiarity with the Mairena files, all the opinion that’s been written about him already. Right. So to learn the art of meeting that standard without going mad or getting hopelessly deflected from your goal, you need guidance from the people who enforce it. People for whom rejecting some poor soul’s academic article is the work of a light morning. (Just today, I had the pleasure of replying to a journal, “sorry, I can’t review that article, I already rejected it for some other journal”.)

You want to get through a gate? Take advice from a gatekeeper.

_____________________________

https://sites.google.com/site/obscureflamencology/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 4 2023 0:37:09
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

I think I get it. But noticing melodies in distinct contexts is not part of my professional competence.


I see. Well, my feeling is I don’t quite understand how this is actually normal in the field. Flamenco is literally about this very competence, so there are people writing about it and solidifying the literature such that this competence is meaningless practically. I know Romerito and I had a deep conversation about it (offline), and he explained that in the field of ethnomusicology, they don’t want “immersion” as the subjective position biases the observational interpretation. Like stay on the perimeter of the thing in order to study it. Preposterous.

quote:

Your complaint was that you can’t say something about (e.g.) Mairena without putting on a show of familiarity with the Mairena files, all the opinion that’s been written about him already. Right. So to learn the art of meeting that standard without going mad


Yes of course I get what you mean. But to be honest, people like Castro Buendia have been quite thorough, and have found themselves 3000 pages deep in Dissertation material (no exaggeration), to simply come to the same conclusion as predecessors. Flamenco is Andalusian (not arabic/jew/Indian, yet he allows for the loose influences as everyone does) and Gypsies are mere interpreters (unwittingly setting them apart from Andalusians). His only contribution is the time frame of “Silverio’s dates” constrains ‘proto-flamenco” and real flamenco (again tying payo to creation), and is forced to interpret important evidence (such as Ocon score) in a manner that supports rather than refutes that conclusion. 3k pages was hardly necessary to accomplish that, and the “new” conclusion is wrong, to some degree, anyway. Then there is Sonidos negros, which I can barely understand due to the type of language used (in English mind you), obviously exemplary in terms of how modern scholarship is approached (at least Steelhead does not use that language).

quote:

You want to get through a gate? Take advice from a gatekeeper.


If the tables were turned and the “gatekeepers” where the few artists that had the competence inferred at the start here, that would be pretty scary wouldn’t it? Like it baffles me that Mairena, if he were alive and trying to publish today, couldn’t get an idea through the door without citing some wanna be. But I am slowly succumbing to the idea that it has to be the way in. One thing I have done is reach out to other fields that, superficially don’t seem relevant to the subject of flamenco history, but actually are. And sadly, even there, I have noticed the same type of thing…where the competent authors seemed to have been writting about musicology after WW2,, in the 1950-60s, then suddenly the 80’s kick in and these authors are challenged and shut down. One very well written scholar I discovered, died DEPRESSED in 1985 that one of his main conjectures was never accepted due to a couple bad reviews early on, and he chose not to fight it. Further, I have notice a general ‘historiography” problem with Spain that is actually recognized by a few scholars and while that is a nice thing to cite, the authors don’t offer any methods for breaking that paradigm, or lines of investigation to follow to break through the invisible barrier. For sure, this flamencology is stuck in the same bubble issue, as you can read about here:

https://www.academia.edu/472109/Cristobal_de_Morales_A_Problem_of_Musical_Mysticism_and_National_Identity_in_the_Historiography_of_the_Renaissance

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2023 12:21:49
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3623
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

[Deleted] 

Post has been moved to the Recycle Bin at Dec. 5 2023 12:36:15
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 5 2023 12:35:07
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

I should say, I’m not an ethnomusicologist. (If you want to know what I do, enjoy: https://brendanlarvor.wordpress.com/publications/). I was trying to get at: there’s stuff I can do (including musical stuff), and then there’s stuff I can do with professional authority. Professional authority is, quite rightly, often at the back of your arguments. “Look, I’ve been doing precisely this thing for decades, so maybe listen when I talk.” is sound advice. When I write about music, it’s without professional authority. When I write about academic practice, it’s with.

Professional authority, of course, is not to be confused with infallibility.

For the fun of it, let’s see whether I can play your argument back (obviously, without the PA):

1) we’re doing history of music, so let’s track musical elements rather than words.
2) specifically, let’s track melodies, because it’s melodies (rather than rhythms or chord sequences) that flamencos use to identify ‘the same’ musical item.

(This isn’t specific to flamenco, is it? Bill Monroe did Blue Moon of Kentucky as a waltz, Elvis did it in 4/4, but it’s the same song. It’d be mad to put Monroe’s version in a waltz box and speculate about its relationship with Vienna, and meanwhile put Elvis’s version in a history of rockabilly box, as if the two versions belonged to separate musical streams.)

3) Tracking the characteristic Petenera melody, we don’t find it anywhere in the Americas, but we do find it reworked in various rhythms and inserted into various palos in Andalusia.

Conclusion) It’s very unlikely that it originated in the Americas or even went there and back.

Right?

I can read Sonidos Negros (part of my professional thing is being able to read such stuff) but I’d rather not! Hurray for Steelhead’s clear prose.

All I’m saying (with PA!) here is that there is a knack and art to saying your thing without getting lost in 3000 words of dissertation. It’s do-able.

Which is not to argue with your observations about ethnomusicology, history of Spain, etc.. Fields do get ruined by fashions or dominated by the wrong people. I can well believe that flamencology is one. Actually, that’s one thing I’m sort of testing by reading Steelhead.

_____________________________

https://sites.google.com/site/obscureflamencology/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 6 2023 18:54:59
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

All I’m saying (with PA!) here is that there is a knack and art to saying your thing without getting lost in 3000 words of dissertation. It’s do-able.


Got it. I wish 3000 words! 3000 PAGES!…take a look sometime!

Click on the link below, then edit the “o” in the word “Formacion” to “Formación” to make the link active:

https://digitum.um.es/digitum/bitstream/10201/38638/1/Formacion%20Musical%20del%20Cante%20Flamenco%20-%20En%20torno%20a%20la%20Figura%20de%20Silverio%20Franconetti%20_1830-1889.pdf

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 7 2023 16:03:28
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

Strewth! I wonder whether the examiner is still on speaking terms with the supervisor? If I agreed to examine a PhD assuming it would be a normal size and then took delivery of this monster, I’d be peeved. For comparison: a philosophy PhD thesis might be 80-100k words. A history one maybe longer, more like 150k. Be fair, though, this thing has only 1320 pages of discussion! The other 1697 pages are bibliography and music scores. It’s still outrageous.

How did it grow so big? Because it isn’t arguing for or against anything. No hypothesis is being advanced, tested or refuted. If it had a mission, he could have selected material that serves it. Lacking a target, mission, or any sort of argument, he had no selection criteria so he wrote down everything. I don’t want to be mean because this is a huge piece of work and ought to be a great resource for anyone who does have something to say. I can see myself referring to it. It’s not really a thesis. It’s archival notes preparatory for a thesis. I’d award this guy a PhD but I wouldn’t invite him to give a talk.

General lesson: mindless empiricism rarely brings good results. Heaps of facts don’t speak for themselves. If you pin a specimen of every kind of butterfly and arrange them according to an already orthodox taxonomy, your chances of discovering anything new are close to nil.

Compare what you did with the Petenera. Someone was wrong on the internet, so you assembled precisely the material you needed to make your case. You had a target and an argument and that gave you selection criteria. Crucially, you weren’t railroaded by the established taxonomy of palos. If you were to write this argument up formally, I promise you it wouldn’t need 1697 pages of apparatus.

_____________________________

https://sites.google.com/site/obscureflamencology/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 8 2023 5:32:49
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

How did it grow so big? Because it isn’t arguing for or against anything. No hypothesis is being advanced, tested or refuted. If it had a mission, he could have selected material that serves it. Lacking a target, mission, or any sort of argument, he had no selection criteria so he wrote down everything.


It seems he used it as a collective and definitive repository for all the research that had been done until that point. He since broke it apart and published short manageable papers on EACH palo, with very little changed from the Dissertation material. He also released a book based on it, and I asked him directly if there was any piece of information in the book that is NOT in the dissertation, and he confirmed my suspicion “no, nothing new”. That saved me a big purchase.

The hypothesis is not very clear, but it is sort of related to the title…He wanted to draw a clear and definitive line in the sand before and after Mr. Silverio and his Cafe Cantantes, claiming these professional outlets are the venue which necessarily transformed all the palos, one by one, into “flamenco” as we know it today. He chooses “academic” music that relates (what I would call “fakemenco” transcriptions by classically trained musicians), and interprets it either before or after that time zone (1860s-80s) as falling into ‘protoflamenco or pre flamenco” , meaning NOT flamenco as we know it, or a representation of flamenco proper. Case in point, his conclusion about Petenera we were discussing in this thread, he only points out the melody of the earlier Mexican stuff is different than the 1877 transcription, so we have a point of departure, or a time frame of the birth of the cante that is more proper “flamenco”. He is not super clear about any of this, but it is in there if you read close. The language used about gitanos is also a bit underhanded, and then you step back and realize Silverio is a “payo”, and whatever pre flamenco he learned from gitanos, he has morphed it into flamenco proper…hence, final conclusion, flamenco is payo Andaluz creation. He was a bit careful how he squeezed that out of all the info, but my feeling is that conclusion was the ultimate goal. We can also assume he was equally frustrated with the academic approach to the subject in general, hence, all the scores and footnotes and extra fat around the main conjecture, inorder to be absolutely thorough (and flamencologists generally can’t read scores and since he crossed his t’s and dotted all his i’s, they have to take his word for his interpretations of the scores and evidence).

The thing that bothered me was that the Ocon score is an anomally, that taken with Felix Maximo Lopez 1800 fandango which has the correct copla and type of expression that relates to modern fandango, he doesn’t allow these pieces of evidence to knock down his main conjecture. Ocon he claimed had more in common to fandango (I have to assume he is lying). To me, when I saw the Ocon score, it was shocking because it is presented Solea and Polo as OLD music in 1860 already, yet it speaks to me as not different than modern interpretations. That means Silverio had very little hand in shaping any flamenco other than the few palos he is known for (siguiriyas Cabales, Solea apola etc.). Perhaps he realized this himself only after doing the whole darn project.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 8 2023 14:14:55
 
tf10music

 

Posts: 112
Joined: Jan. 3 2017
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

The hypothesis is not very clear, but it is sort of related to the title…He wanted to draw a clear and definitive line in the sand before and after Mr. Silverio and his Cafe Cantantes, claiming these professional outlets are the venue which necessarily transformed all the palos, one by one, into “flamenco” as we know it today.


Right, but is determining that flamenco crystallized after Silverio sufficient condition for an assertion that flamenco is broadly Andalusian in origin rather than Gitano? My feeling is that the truth is somewhere between those two positions. And then there's the larger question: why do these delineations matter? Like, for me, what takes precedence is the cultural milieu in which flamenco has been intergenerationally fostered; the obsession with origins is a red herring and ideologically motivated by very old currents in Spanish discourse surrounding folk music and the relation between 'high culture' and 'low culture.' Samuel Llano's book Discordant Notes: Marginality and Social Control in Madrid, 1850-1930 does a fantastic job at tracing that history.

I am going to have to finally read that Castro-Buendía book, though, despite -- or perhaps because of -- the mixed reception that it has received.

Sonidos Negros is really good (though I may be predisposed to liking the way it is written due to how ubiquitous its style is in my academic discipline), but it also isn't really about these same questions -- at least not directly (it's been a few years since I last read it, though, so maybe I am forgetting something). It does take for granted the gitanidad of flamenco's practice and optics, but that is not the same thing as a claim about its origins. That said, Goldberg includes a pretty cutting critique of Steingress' claims about flamenco's origins and argues against supplanting the claim of Gitano provenance with a claim that flamenco is descended entirely from a general Andalusian underclass. Her position on that front is quite convincing, in my view. Why does it have to be either one option or the other? Those two claims are very much compatible with one another.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 9 2023 9:43:14
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to tf10music

quote:

Right, but is determining that flamenco crystallized after Silverio sufficient condition for an assertion that flamenco is broadly Andalusian in origin rather than Gitano?


The main thing is the term “crystallized” is basically replacing “originated”, ie, flamenco did not really EXIST before that time, and passes through a membrane that involves NON-gypsies before being considered “a thing”. That means, whatever the gypsies might have done before this (even if music called “flamenco”, based on the likely incorrect assumption that the term is applied due to some interchangeability between terms “gitano andaluz” and “flamenco” as people), is NOT to be considered flamenco proper. They contribute only ingredients to the melting pot, which also includes ingrediants of Andalusian folk, and whatever constitutes THAT as ingredients that came before (Roman, Greek, Moorish, Jew, etc.)…anything other than India/Gypsy I mean.

quote:

why do these delineations matter?


That is a good question. The simple answer is we read about El Fillo and Planeta, humans that have been linked both orally and via public records to the family heritage of the understood FLAMENCO tradition…ie, it is a tradition that is quite OLD. But is it fair to call it “flamenco music” that they were actually doing, if they did not call it that explicitly for another 15 years? That is the main “mystery” about the whole thing. I used to think it all in vain to consider what was happening before audio recordings since even today people don’t understand what they are watching in performances unless they have done a deep dive and immersion to understand the system and language of the genre. Hence “mixed reviews” don’t tell us what actually happened on the stage. Lopez and Ocon changed my opinion completely. There are infact “snap shots in time” that need to be carefully considered with no bias. But, now it is too late.



quote:

Like, for me, what takes precedence is the cultural milieu in which flamenco has been intergenerationally fostered; the obsession with origins is a red herring and ideologically motivated by very old currents in Spanish discourse surrounding folk music and the relation between 'high culture' and 'low culture.'


This statement gets at the very heart of all the misconceptions that surround the genre, that I myself went in “believing” until, 20 years later, I notice these misconception had been systematically removed, one by one, as I immersed myself inside, while being “objective” by contextualizing the whole thing based on my outsider understanding of music in general. “Cultural milieu” is the first nonsensical thing people don’t really carefully consider before regurgitating the concept. The music of flamenco is NOT folk music…at ALL. It is almost like the polar opposite, hence art music genres tend more to commune with her. It IS folk music only SUPERFICIALLY because non academics excel at it, and working classes preserve it in the home. But once you try to learn it, it is not folk music at all. Otherwise there would never have been this push by certain intellectuals to have it included in University. Think about it carefully for just a moment.

Here is the true problem. If folk music of andalucia is an ingredient, and you toss it into a big soup pot (cultural milieu that is music specific), along with Arabic, Greek, Roman, India/gypsy, you stir it up and then out pours FLAMENCO the genre. Makes sense? Not when you go to learn a palo and realize there is FORMAL STRUCTURE. This suggests quite matter of factly and plainly, that this music is not some random mix mash up of ingredients, rather that it has a very clear and specific ORIGIN or model, upon which it is based, that not only gave birth to it, but is adhered to as religious cannon enforced by various aficionados and THE ARTISTS THEMSELVES. At every turn of an attempt to change the formal structure of the palos, there is a great and strong push back to preserve the tradition. That all suggests a VERY specific origin, not a random mix up of various elements. Hate to say, but I have learned this after YEARS of immersion, believing the entire time the opposite. It is wrong. What flamenco is, is something that Gitanos mostly, from andalucia exclusively, have picked up and preserved or guarded VERY closely, and still do. Not only preserve, but enjoy to CREATE WITHIN the specific guarded parameters. It is only a mystery of “when”, and more specifically “What it was” originally. If it were a mere creation by some individuals, what is all the special treatment and fraternal type indoctrination (I had to go through myself) really about???

quote:

That said, Goldberg includes a pretty cutting critique of Steingress' claims about flamenco's origins and argues against supplanting the claim of Gitano provenance with a claim that flamenco is descended entirely from a general Andalusian underclass. Her position on that front is quite convincing, in my view. Why does it have to be either one option or the other? Those two claims are very much compatible with one another.


Neither approach is explaining the CLEAR formal structure of the song forms, as I talked about above. There are general type claims that don’t address specific features of the art form that turn out to be THE IMPORTANT FEATURES when you actually start doing it in a matter “correctly” enough to pay your bills (rubber meets the road), or at least acceptable levels that show understanding to both payo and gitano artists. Further, when they talk about “race” they fail to address (as is typical) two facts.

1. Gitanos that do flamenco are not the same ones that wander in a caravan and steal chickens. Those are the persecuted ones, as they live outside of society. They do ZERO flamenco anything. The ones that do flamenco are working class, going shoulder to shoulder with payos at the same jobs. BUT are still distinct from them, might have arranged marriage or speak Calo, etc. 2. Unlike other gitano groups, the Andalusian gitanos are not opposed to mixing racially. This is odd and specific in the bigger picture, and is going hand in hand with flamenco culture. The fact some of these writers tip toeing into the subject don’t make that clear up front, means I don’t take their conclusions seriously AT ALL.

Leblon is pretty good, pro gitano, but again fails to make the distinction of the those two above facts, and therefore leaves us with misleading info. He considers n.2 only slightly in the case of how the heck gitanos that do flamenco have these noble names from spanish aristocracy. Racial mixing did happen, but more important, the nobles were padrinos for these “flamenco gitanos”. Lots of significant stuff right there, but we have to keep hearing about oppressed chicken thieves, skin color, and clothing styles.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 9 2023 15:36:13
 
tf10music

 

Posts: 112
Joined: Jan. 3 2017
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

The main thing is the term “crystallized” is basically replacing “originated”, ie, flamenco did not really EXIST before that time, and passes through a membrane that involves NON-gypsies before being considered “a thing”. That means, whatever the gypsies might have done before this (even if music called “flamenco”, based on the likely incorrect assumption that the term is applied due to some interchangeability between terms “gitano andaluz” and “flamenco” as people), is NOT to be considered flamenco proper. They contribute only ingredients to the melting pot, which also includes ingrediants of Andalusian folk, and whatever constitutes THAT as ingredients that came before (Roman, Greek, Moorish, Jew, etc.)…anything other than India/Gypsy I mean.

Here you are really getting at a philosophical problem: what are the conditions under which becoming can be realized? The answer to that question in the context of flamenco will probably vary depending on the way one answers that question generally. With respect to music, I do think there is a difference between origin and crystallization. Clyde Woods, in his writing on blues and the great migration, talks about the blues epistemology: the idea that blues is a socially mediated mode of approaching or knowing the world that can inhere in many different formal structures, and in genres ranging from variants of 'traditional' blues to gospel, soul, jazz, etc. When elements of this fluid way of knowing are codified (often by external observers or by methods of inscription like musical notation or recording technologies), that is when the crystallization occurs. It strikes me that these instances of codification also serve as evidence of a formal structure in situations where such evidence would otherwise not exist. In reading the letras, I do feel like there is a flamenco epistemology. Does this flamenco epistemology predate the formal structures of the music? I don't know. I mean, there are letras that have been attributed to some very early figures, but I don't think there's a way of definitively proving that provenance.

quote:

That is a good question. The simple answer is we read about El Fillo and Planeta, humans that have been linked both orally and via public records to the family heritage of the understood FLAMENCO tradition…ie, it is a tradition that is quite OLD. But is it fair to call it “flamenco music” that they were actually doing, if they did not call it that explicitly for another 15 years? That is the main “mystery” about the whole thing. I used to think it all in vain to consider what was happening before audio recordings since even today people don’t understand what they are watching in performances unless they have done a deep dive and immersion to understand the system and language of the genre. Hence “mixed reviews” don’t tell us what actually happened on the stage. Lopez and Ocon changed my opinion completely. There are infact “snap shots in time” that need to be carefully considered with no bias. But, now it is too late.

You are very precise in your distinctions, and I appreciate that. Personally, I am much looser, simply because my area of scholarly interest is different than yours: I am interested in the subjectivity (the ways of knowing, anxieties, etc) that propagates and is propagated by flamenco culture. The music is very important to that, but if the subjectivity either predates or postdates the juncture at which the music becomes recognizably flamenco music, then for my purposes a more holistic approach makes a lot more sense. For your purposes, I do see why these delineations are important, and I like the 'snap shots in time approach,' because it acknowledges that you are running up against a tension between written and oral record/modes of knowledge preservation and that there are only going to be fleeting opportunities to retrieve insight before everything gets absorbed back into the various competing narratives.

quote:

This statement gets at the very heart of all the misconceptions that surround the genre, that I myself went in “believing” until, 20 years later, I notice these misconception had been systematically removed, one by one, as I immersed myself inside, while being “objective” by contextualizing the whole thing based on my outsider understanding of music in general. “Cultural milieu” is the first nonsensical thing people don’t really carefully consider before regurgitating the concept. The music of flamenco is NOT folk music…at ALL. It is almost like the polar opposite, hence art music genres tend more to commune with her. It IS folk music only SUPERFICIALLY because non academics excel at it, and working classes preserve it in the home. But once you try to learn it, it is not folk music at all. Otherwise there would never have been this push by certain intellectuals to have it included in University. Think about it carefully for just a moment.

Here is the true problem. If folk music of andalucia is an ingredient, and you toss it into a big soup pot (cultural milieu that is music specific), along with Arabic, Greek, Roman, India/gypsy, you stir it up and then out pours FLAMENCO the genre. Makes sense? Not when you go to learn a palo and realize there is FORMAL STRUCTURE. This suggests quite matter of factly and plainly, that this music is not some random mix mash up of ingredients, rather that it has a very clear and specific ORIGIN or model, upon which it is based, that not only gave birth to it, but is adhered to as religious cannon enforced by various aficionados and THE ARTISTS THEMSELVES. At every turn of an attempt to change the formal structure of the palos, there is a great and strong push back to preserve the tradition. That all suggests a VERY specific origin, not a random mix up of various elements. Hate to say, but I have learned this after YEARS of immersion, believing the entire time the opposite. It is wrong. What flamenco is, is something that Gitanos mostly, from andalucia exclusively, have picked up and preserved or guarded VERY closely, and still do. Not only preserve, but enjoy to CREATE WITHIN the specific guarded parameters. It is only a mystery of “when”, and more specifically “What it was” originally. If it were a mere creation by some individuals, what is all the special treatment and fraternal type indoctrination (I had to go through myself) really about???

What is folk music and what isn't folk music? Usually, the answer to that question is determined by the upper classes of any given society. I agree that by many definitions, flamenco doesn't sit easily in that category due to the scholarly apparatus that has been built up around it. But you are misunderstanding the intellectual history of the academic fascination with flamenco in the Spanish upper classes. There was a push-and-pull between treating flamenco as lower class 'folk' music and treating it as music that belonged to the upper class and was being 'degraded' by its lower class and Gitano performers. These kinds of anxieties track with the general intellectual climate of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Western Europe and North America. Of course, none of this has to do with the real history of the music as music; this is an ideological history, but it's important if we want to comprehend the place that flamenco occupies.

With respect to the music itself, the question then becomes: to what degree is the insistence on strict formal structure endemic to the art itself and to what degree has it been influenced by the discourses surrounding the art? Of course flamenco isn't a random mishmash of elements (though I certainly wouldn't deny that it incorporates elements from many different sources), but I do think you are falling into a formalist trap here. Strict adherence to a form does not mean that the form predates the strict adherence; traditions change even as people adhere to them as if they have always remained the same. This doesn't mean that there ISN'T a formal origin point, but it does mean that you are making some general assumptions about how history works that aren't necessarily true.

What is undoubtedly true is this:
quote:

What flamenco is, is something that Gitanos mostly, from andalucia exclusively, have picked up and preserved or guarded VERY closely, and still do. Not only preserve, but enjoy to CREATE WITHIN the specific guarded parameters.
When I say "cultural milieu," this is what I mean.

quote:

Neither approach is explaining the CLEAR formal structure of the song forms, as I talked about above. There are general type claims that don’t address specific features of the art form that turn out to be THE IMPORTANT FEATURES when you actually start doing it in a matter “correctly” enough to pay your bills (rubber meets the road), or at least acceptable levels that show understanding to both payo and gitano artists. Further, when they talk about “race” they fail to address (as is typical) two facts.

1. Gitanos that do flamenco are not the same ones that wander in a caravan and steal chickens. Those are the persecuted ones, as they live outside of society. They do ZERO flamenco anything. The ones that do flamenco are working class, going shoulder to shoulder with payos at the same jobs. BUT are still distinct from them, might have arranged marriage or speak Calo, etc. 2. Unlike other gitano groups, the Andalusian gitanos are not opposed to mixing racially. This is odd and specific in the bigger picture, and is going hand in hand with flamenco culture. The fact some of these writers tip toeing into the subject don’t make that clear up front, means I don’t take their conclusions seriously AT ALL.

Leblon is pretty good, pro gitano, but again fails to make the distinction of the those two above facts, and therefore leaves us with misleading info. He considers n.2 only slightly in the case of how the heck gitanos that do flamenco have these noble names from spanish aristocracy. Racial mixing did happen, but more important, the nobles were padrinos for these “flamenco gitanos”. Lots of significant stuff right there, but we have to keep hearing about oppressed chicken thieves, skin color, and clothing styles.


Yeah, I agree in broad terms with much of what you're saying here. I think Goldberg oversimplifies the racialization of the Gitanos in Spain. I am skeptical that many contemporary academics conceive of the flamenco-playing Gitanos as itinerant chicken thieves, though -- any scholar worth their salt will know that the Gitanos who do/did flamenco are the ones who were sedentarized (partially by force and partially out of convenience) in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in spots where there was regular contact and mixture with payos. Most do not deal with this social history properly, though: either you see a class-reductionism (Steingress et al) or a focus on gitanidad in isolation without a genuine acknowledgement of the mixed underclass in which the Gitanos operated.

The involvement of nobles/señoritos with flamenco families/performers is an interesting topic that definitely hasn't been explored enough. I remember Timothy Mitchell's book "Flamenco Deep Song" (regrettable title aside) having a useful discussion of that stuff, but it really felt like more of a starting point than anything else. When I'm back in Spain, I'll have to ask some friends about this and see if there's any family knowledge about it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 10 2023 4:03:57
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to tf10music

quote:

Clyde Woods, in his writing on blues and the great migration, talks about the blues epistemology: the idea that blues is a socially mediated mode of approaching or knowing the world that can inhere in many different formal structures, and in genres ranging from variants of 'traditional' blues to gospel, soul, jazz, etc. When elements of this fluid way of knowing are codified (often by external observers or by methods of inscription like musical notation or recording technologies), that is when the crystallization occurs. It strikes me that these instances of codification also serve as evidence of a formal structure in situations where such evidence would otherwise not exist. In reading the letras, I do feel like there is a flamenco epistemology. Does this flamenco epistemology predate the formal structures of the music? I don't know.


Good point, and we see blues as an analogy to flamenco often. However, the funny thing to me as the “i have my hands dirty in this genre”, is that it is often about the people and culture surrounding the music, since the music itself seems worlds apart and completely unrelated. Recently Faustino Nuñez pointed out the formal structure (chords) are in common with Fandango copla. Superficially it seemed ridiculous, and we can laugh at this for two reasons. 1. No phrygian resolve, no flamenco aesthetic to connect the two despite the 1-4-1-5 thing. And 2. This 1-4-1-5 must be SO damn common…right?

Well, after laughing a bit, I thought a bit deeper and realized he is on to something. What he missed is that Taranto and other cantes Levantes utilize the b7 in the MELODY, and often the #4 in passing, and if you familiarize yourself with the cantes, it becomes clear that many of the weird “Wrong notes” in the structure vs Fandango (usually all natural notes), map perfectly to the typical blues phrasing, and for the same reasons theory wise. That is the same theory problems the rock guitarists scratch their head about (why do these wrong notes sound cool??), is going on with Flamenco cante levante. And there staring us ALL in the face is the mapped chord progression. Now, go and LOOK for the precursor of that progression, and guess what? YOU WON”T FIND IT. Trust me I have looked…a lot. It is so hilariously specific while being “should be super common everywhere”, that we are looking at a divergence and function from an IDENTICAL SOURCE. Perhaps AI could have figured it out for us one day. Anyway, Miles Davis figured out that the blues “turn around” could be replaced with a Phrygian cadence and he is doing a “Jazzy fandango”. Whether it was intuitive or deeply astute we may never know. But “Flamenco Sketches” puts the elements back together, in a manner such that, it is likely there is a common origin for these forms. And the fact they are STILL adhered to is probably not coincidence either. “Gospel, Soul”, etc., sure…places to look.

quote:

Of course flamenco isn't a random mishmash of elements (though I certainly wouldn't deny that it incorporates elements from many different sources), but I do think you are falling into a formalist trap here. Strict adherence to a form does not mean that the form predates the strict adherence; traditions change even as people adhere to them as if they have always remained the same. This doesn't mean that there ISN'T a formal origin point, but it does mean that you are making some general assumptions about how history works that aren't necessarily true.


Good point. However, when I go at the specifics, these things break down. Such as “elements from many sources”. Other than the literal gypsy interpretation of a set melody “cante”, what are these elements? Even Buendia sort of takes the standard taking points and one by one points out there is NO EVIDENCE. Like you can’t find any connections. The Muslim call to prayer is a good example. One guys says they are the same, another says, you excised a fragment and this can be done with any music on earth. In the end it is junk, because it doesn’t go anywhere specific. But people like to imagine an Arab, Jew, and gypsy sitting in a bar singing their own stuff and magically it all coalesces into a formal thing … eventually. In terms of general history, yes it works different ways as can be shown by the variations of specific examples. But all I really need is one analogous case to “prove” it is “possible” and therefore, since no better explanation has come forward, “likely” that flamenco is ALSO a preservation of specific blueprinted forms. Of course what ever THOSE are will have their own origin story, and music all goes back to Pythagoras …. But I don’t need to go there (Manolo Sanlucar already has by the way ).

About nobility padrinos:Leblon offers a stepping stone to the 1785 census that could be, in theory, traced further back by baptism records as far as late 1500s when the Spain church first started keeping the records. The Caracol-Planeta connection was in fact established this way, confirming what was long thought a boasting or exaggeration by Caracol, since it is only oral anecdote. IMO these anecdotes could be looked at more seriously as well. (Read Pericon for example….talking dogs no, but there are other things in there).

Ooops I forgot about this interesting point:
quote:

I am interested in the subjectivity (the ways of knowing, anxieties, etc) that propagates and is propagated by flamenco culture. The music is very important to that, but if the subjectivity either predates or postdates the juncture at which the music becomes recognizably flamenco music, then for my purposes a more holistic approach makes a lot more sense.


I have been checking out “consciousness” theories lately. I am lost in a lot of it. However, in terms of subjective viewpoint and interpretation…of course we can only have “our own”, but there are some common ground things where we can briefly “slip into” another persons shoes. Such as the Estebañez Calderon thing. It is like a huge “wow” moment for me when I read that. Not only did I feel like I was there with those Gitanos, but it seemed like practically NOTHING had changed. Same with the Ocon soledad. Thinking about how today we make audio and video recordings of events to share the subjective experience, and putting things on paper such as “transcribing” from a YouTube video into tablature, is very helpful to get “into those shoes” in a more specific way, I was VERY confused by what I was reading in the score. It was a “shocking” sensation, as if I was in the room where that performance took place. How did that guy make a score like that? There were only 3 possibilities. 1. He constructed it based on several repetitions, forcing these poor gitanos to do “take after take” of the same performance. This just seemed impractical. 2. He himself had flamenco knowledge to such a degree he was able to create the score from vague memory, understanding completely how the music functions and taking artistic liberty as will. Also, this seemed unlikely. Last 3. He, like Mozart, had photografic memory and total recal, and was matter of factly notating from a single hearing, exactly what the guitar and singer did, and the editors made “errors” thinking it would help the reader of this strange music.

It turned out Ocon was a child prodigy musician, score large works as a teenager…so number 3 is most likely. If only he had attended the Estebañez event, we would know exactly what was going on there. Recently I have been getting into Renaissance vihuela tablature. It is funny how I feel myself in familiar territory with the Rondeña tuning being a familiar thing. It is again a sensation as if I am transported into that guy’s studio, and feeling out his fingering choices etc.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 10 2023 14:45:56
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to tf10music

Mate. Here I am trying to persuade Ricardo to write up his thoughts for publication, and you roll up to tell him that to do that, he has to have opinions about whether a specific performance practice can be the expression of a marginalised epistemology and (gulp) the conditions under which Being can be realised. Not helpful! 🙄

I took a longer look at Buendia, including his biog and the YouTube vid of his PhD defence, with the two volumes totalling 3019 pages open before him. He’s not your usual PhD student. He already had a 400-page book out in 2010, four years before his thesis defence and various other articles published leading up to it. This is not normal. Also not normal for a PhD is to have thirteen objectives (that’s about ten too many) and a method section that reads “Write down everything known about this subject”. I can see his rationale. I rather like the swagger of it. He says, “There isn’t a rigorous, systematic, comprehensive musicological treatment of flamenco—so I’ll write one.” And he did. It is amazing that he managed to do that in four years. If I had been his supervisor, I’d have been worried for him. In a way, Ricardo, he’s an ally because he wants the focus on the music rather than the social and economic conditions, etc.. He wants to have music-theory arguments about whether this or that estilo is really Am or E Phrygian. He’s trying to pull the discussion closer to where you want it to be (even if you’re not convinced by the specifics of what he’s saying). Still, with his encyclopaedic method and ambition, it’s not surprising that his conclusions are a rather weak signal.

He’s a performing and recording classical guitarist, it says here, but there’s no mention of years in the hot seat at El Tablao X or regular performances at La Peña Y. Surely he must play a bit. I can't believe someone could have pro-level classical guitar chops and a PhD (and subsequent career) in flamencology but not play flamenco.

So what did happen in the Cafe Cantante period? There’s an idea I find attractive that I think I found in Steelhead. Professionalisation enforced standardisation. You don’t want to miss a gig just because your regular collaborator isn’t available, so you need the repertoire and on-stage signals to be standardised, in order to perform with whoever is available without rehearsal. This strikes me as the kind of rubber-meets-road explanation that you (Ricardo) favour. It makes sense in small, tight communities who pass jobs around (you hired my cousin, you got me) and don’t write anything down. It’s a material influence that bears equally on gitanos and payos, so it doesn’t write the gitanos out of the story but nor does it romanticise or essentialise them. It makes the Cafe Cantante period a difference of degree that leads to a permanent change. There were performances of Andalusian/gitano/proto-flamenco song and dance from way back, but it seems that it was only in the second half of the XIX that the market for these grew big enough to fix the repertoire.

I don’t know whether that’s true. But notice, it’s a hypothesis that you might investigate by looking at the available scores from before and after. But, you’d be very unlikely to think of it in the first place except by reflecting on what life is like for performers now.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 10 2023 15:41:04
 
kitarist

Posts: 1708
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RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

So what did happen in the Cafe Cantante period? There’s an idea I find attractive that I think I found in Steelhead. Professionalisation enforced standardisation.


But how do we know that the forms were not standardized before this period? This line of query just seems to me a bit like assuming the [an] outcome. Once assumed, yes, this hypothesis is almost trivially likely to be true (i.e. IF things were not standardized before the period, but were after, then they must have become so during that period).

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 10 2023 17:41:04
 
Brendan

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RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to kitarist

Well it’s not altogether trivial because it proposes a reason for the standardisation. But you’re right, we’d somehow need to know that things were looser beforehand. Was it the case in say 1840 that strangers could perform shows together (not just jam but play for paying spectators) without rehearsal? I’ve no idea. But as I said, I like this sort of hypothesis because it relates the musicological arguments to performing practices without essentialising anyone’s ethnicity.

The alternative, at least in Buendia, is that the personal example and charisma of Silverio somehow persuaded everyone to adopt a standardised repertoire—even after his death! Somehow, not only did his personal influence keep the existing repertoire in that ready-to-play-with-anyone state but new additions were rapidly standardised too. Or maybe, working flamencos need it to be that way.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 10 2023 18:20:08
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

In a way, Ricardo, he’s an ally because he wants the focus on the music rather than the social and economic conditions, etc.. He wants to have music-theory arguments about whether this or that estilo is really Am or E Phrygian. He’s trying to pull the discussion closer to where you want it to be (even if you’re not convinced by the specifics of what he’s saying)


yes, and had hoped for certain things to work out that way at my first encounter. It appears, superficially, he has the same rigor as Carol Whitney. Closer look it is not how I feel now. But I was initially concerned with that Ocon thing, because instead of presenting us the ORIGINAL source, he re-transcribes it himself with his own interpretive lens (including where he perceived counting to line up), and, well, “tainted” the evidence in the process. It is possible this is simply due to his lack of experience (Alain Faucher might have done this different, but has made similar errors himself)…but it IS convenient that THAT ONE piece of evidence that for ME reveals Solea proper is OLDER than the time line suggested (“collected” ie transcribed in this case circa 1860, published later with possible edits, however, described as OLD music just like Fandango). So for me, his procedure is a double edge sword. He would be a great ally, but he has already solidified his stance on this…no one like me has challenged his interpretation coming 10 years later. I am sure he would continue to defend that if I could converse with him (and would have to if I published something that addressed this). The other side of the coin is that he does have some evidence that aligns with my own research in the positive, where yes i would cite that peculiar correlation he first noted in the literature (not saying what it is yet, but it is in there), and he clued me in to a few other things as well I had not known about, but it seems those other things are not his own findings. So one against one is not bad! . What I would love to do is simple state my findings, cite sources in the positive ONLY, and give my conjecture, conclusion, and further research options. It won’t be that easy because I don’t have much to cite in the positive (that is accepted) is the problem. Mountains high of negative refutations instead.

quote:

Professionalisation enforced standardisation. You don’t want to miss a gig just because your regular collaborator isn’t available, so you need the repertoire and on-stage signals to be standardised, in order to perform with whoever is available without rehearsal. This strikes me as the kind of rubber-meets-road explanation that you (Ricardo) favour. It makes sense


Yes this is true, a great point, and has strong evidence regarding specific aspects. If you recall earlier I had separated the “formal structure” of flamenco forms and their “compas treatments”. This is part of this specific aspect. What we see in practice is that “work” involving dance, has constrained the Cante (not the guitar, however, how it functions WITH cante perhaps), and forced evolution somewhat, to a “standardized” compas interpretation. Or rather, it changed what compas parameters used to mean. While a “liberty” was removed from how the melodies were once delivered, it opened a door to a different way to express that compas liberty. Unintentionally, this forced many singers to emphasize certain melodies, abandon many others, that were simply too hard (they were too lazy to change them) to reconfigure compas wise, and we end up with two types of cante…pa’ alante (old school solo cante sitting upfront of stage) and pa’ tras (orthodox for dance, in the back of the stage). It is important to note this did NOT trigger new melody formation…rather a new way to interpret traditional melodies such that one way might be “right” and the other “wrong”.

The distinct repertoire might suggest an evolution of “standardization”, or a branching off or splitting of what cante means. YES. However, at the same time, the forced boxing rhythmically is not changing the aspects of the formal structure I described earlier (cante fixed melody, harmonic punctuation points, poetic form, etc.). On the contrary, it is as if the old way had already came OUT of the box, hence the enjoyment or liberty of interpretation between voice and guitar that even Ocon points out was going on as early as 1860, and the dance show work environment has put the formal structure BACK INTO THE BOX. In other words, it does not make a lot of sense that the formal structure evolved starting with HIGH entropy (weakly ordered state evolving to a more ordered configuration), but the exact opposite. Hence the dancers are the ones violently going against the natural order, with mixed results. (Moraito finally refusing to play for dancers, for example, due to these constraints). But these forms are built in a way that their likely origin has allowed them to get away with this. The historic variation (singers sing more or less “in the box” or “out of the box” in personal ways), has always pointed us in the direction of a “common ordered state” of origin anyway. When I saw that Ocon thing it was an “ah ha!” moment for me like when Indiana jones flips over the head piece and realizes “they are digging in the wrong place!”.

quote:

Was it the case in say 1840 that strangers could perform shows together (not just jam but play for paying spectators) without rehearsal? I’ve no idea.


This is precisely what Estebañez Calderon is showing us (gitanos from ALL around andalucia coming together to share their cantes and dances, all coming to Sevilla for some reason), regardless as to whether or not there was a formal structure of palos we recognized today. But how could it be possible if there WASN’T? And keep in mind…Caracol is Planeta’s descendent. And the Caña, whatever that was, is explicitly described as having a formal structure. I don’t know which one exactly but the uninformed description fits several modern examples I could imagine, since Solea and Siguiriya function generally the same. Aficionados place Caña proper as older than Solea, as far as I can tell, based on THIS evidence only, however, makes more sense as a Solea derivative IMO, and Romances are related. Could be as simple as that the working title was different until later, or Calderon missed something (one Romance uses the word Soledad in the letra, for example). These working titles all seem to be appropriations anyway (Tonada, polo, Tiento, tango, Romance, Seguidilla, big etc.). A visitor from Cadiz (Dolores possible relative of Mellizo) sings an unusual Malagueña, and the gitanos have to explicitly explain the difference to Calderon. Also this activity coming together in an all too familiar way for ME.

For those that never read this…you can replace Caña, the word, for Solea or siguiriya, Polo, etc., and it is a perfect description of what I just did last Thursday (including a distinction between sung or danced versions). Even Tientos-tangos. Hard to understand why researchers would claim the possibility this music was NOT flamenco, but some “proto-flamenco” etc.

https://archive.org/details/escenasandaluzas00estb/page/244/mode/2up?q=Cana

Thanks for all your push back by the way, you have good observations.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 11 2023 15:16:48
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

Thanks!

So Buendías’ dodgy transcription happens on p. 44 of this, right?

https://www.sinfoniavirtual.com/flamenco/jaleos_soleares.pdf

Where can I see the Ocón original? The internet keeps showing me editions of his piano works and some book about nationalism.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 16 2023 12:52:15
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

ORIGINAL: Brendan

Thanks!

So Buendías’ dodgy transcription happens on p. 44 of this, right?

https://www.sinfoniavirtual.com/flamenco/jaleos_soleares.pdf

Where can I see the Ocón original? The internet keeps showing me editions of his piano works and some book about nationalism.


Soledad page 89-91

https://www.bibliotecavirtualdeandalucia.es/catalogo/es/catalogo_imagenes/grupo.do?path=162199

P.44 in the Castro Buendia article shows the discussion with extracted sections for comparison. The full score is on page 120. He does “ok” with putting the 1,2,3 etc., in the right spots for the most part, but neglects to make clear the half compas sections (allowed or normal in the tradition), or where there are compas discrepancies that need to be addressed. For example the first and LAST phrase of the score are designed as a “wrap around” for the D.C. to allow a repeat of the entire formal structure. In practice we know we would not do that because it is an open form, ready for improvised compas or falsetas to bridge the next letra, whatever it would be. So to me there is a problem there that is likely EDITORIAL, and should be addressed. The correct compas expression would instead be 6,8,10 on those phrases. The carrot top accent marks where he points out “hemiola”, is again a tricky detail that is, for me, the typical Moraito Jerez “Marcado” 12,2,4, followed by remate using rasgueado. That implies there is an omitted measure of 3 beats before the main compas expression starts. I suspect it would have been editorial, but must admit a possible transcribe or performance error.

The rasgueado is the next detail that is problematic. He is reading the 16th note roll flag as straight 16ths, but Ocon clearly discusses the RASGUEADO in the earlier Fandango entry, describing in vivid detail the typical finger rolls and up strokes we still use. The golpe is not in the score but it should be clear where those land. And he used the drum roll symbol after explaining there are variants of rasgueado…meaning, unlike the piano score, he wants the time durations there to be covered by the rasgueado roll. Buendia is therefore not putting in logical rasgueado patterns that would make his version look more “modern”. Oddly, the original score looks easier to read for me, thinking of putting my normal rolls in those spots vs what Buendia writes. The wrap around measure has clear Triplets on full barre chords that are a variant of the opening measure version, and could be done with typical wrist motions as if you had a guitar pick. (Down up down UP).

Other discrepancies I suspect are editorial, as in page lay out one obvious addition to my eyes where a guitar two measure pattern is nonsensically split (two bars before the letra starts as if accidentally duplicated or deliberately to make page look nice), right before the “wrap around” I described there should be an overlap on count 6 (F chord on beat one in otherwords). The word “caidas” is the resolution of the first cambio, and a point of argument between Romerito and I. Buendia edits the accidental G# out in this spot, probably deliberately, as this would again be an editorial decision to avoid false relations between voice and accompaniment. They let the C natural go against the E chord in other spots, but G against G# would probably give readers a headache. We know in practice we encounter false relations between guitar and voice quite often in flamenco. What my instincts tell me is that if you recall the Carol Whitney transcription of Talega, she points out two styles of expressing the Cambio, and I feel Ocon is capturing an example where the singer does each one by repeating the two lines of verse (the verse being a tricky unique case as well, I describe later). The problem is the FIRST pass, the guitar is late catching the cambio and does the typical 1,2,3 C major chord. I love that that happened, because it captures a tricky stylistic thing that takes years to learn or get used to. But the next one is anticipated and lines up as normal. I honestly feel the melody on the first pass looked weird (if it indeed looked like Talega with the A-G-F#-G-A conclusion) against the Fmaj/A-E major see-saw progression (sorry but that is how a guitarist plays it safe), so the editors transported it UP a step (B-A-G#-A-B) to match those chords under it. But I can’t prove that, so we have to take what we got. For me it is far to subtle to NEGATE that the thing is a Solea proper, but rather a Solea in some proto transition.

The letra is the best part….4 line verse interpreted in a standard 3 line melody form. You hold that first line until the repeat of the combio for the big “reveal”. This letra is IN DEMOFILO, so should be a no brainer that this is cante flamenco proper from tradition, not some andalusian cancion. So my big point of contention is the following of Castro Buendia, which seems to me to be a confirmation bias…throwing us off the track by pretending a relation to fandango melody. ALL cante melodies in the same tessitura will have these superficial similarities!!!! Using that to further the argument is the damaging thing for me, because now this has been published, we have to address it first rather than reinterpret it matter of factly. I wish Carol Whitney had gotten hold of it and compared to Talega first (please note, he is comparing a verse line 1 or 1 prime, to a fandango line 2, SMH).



Here is the Rasgueado description and scoring method:


Standard Solea escobilla type expression with likely editorial issue, two 16ths following count 10 would also be standard:


Here is the wrap around phrase that should conclude the compas under the cante, rather than start a new compas phrase. But is wrapping around like a D.C. first ending vs second ending type thing.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 16 2023 18:22:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

Here is my suspicion phrase first showing Carol Whitney’s 3 examples of the cambio variants of Talega (very standard in style), compared to the first cambio in the Ocon (I suspect it was altered to match the chordal accompaniment better):





By the way, the melody is to me the same as Talega in general (the second letra transition cante), attributed to Joaquin 2, though typically executed with consecutive lines of verse. When done with repeats and fast, it becomes a pretty standard buleria. Keep in mind the Ocon score PREDATES Joaquin’s birth.

I want to say that all my “doctoring” suggestions to the Ocon original would make the formal structure crystal clear and exemplary….yet AS IS, with no alteration, functions perfectly well as a slightly flawed performance of the Solea as we know it today (nothing to me dramatically out of the ordinary of acceptable errors, what ever they may be).

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 16 2023 19:11:43
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ricardo

I want to say that all my “doctoring” suggestions to the Ocon original would make the formal structure crystal clear and exemplary….yet AS IS, with no alteration, functions perfectly well as a slightly flawed performance of the Solea as we know it today (nothing to me dramatically out of the ordinary of acceptable errors, what ever they may be).


Right so this is the answer to the supervisor question: why does any of this detail matter? Thing to notice here, you’re really saying something about Ocón, not about Buendia.

Let me see whether I understand the argument well enough to run it:

Ocón had a sharp ear and took careful notes but he was not an ethnomusicologist in the modern sense and he was the product of a culture where you haven’t really understood a piece of music until you’ve scored a piano accompaniment and translated the words into German. (The fact that there is no meaningful German translation for ‘Vestido de Nazareno’ but he went ahead and translated it anyway could stand as a morality tale for a lot of this.) In particular, he was not a practicing flamenco performer. In fact, in his day, there was no overlap between practicing flamencos and musicians trained to write down music in staff notation (or any notation?). Not like now. So we can trust that Ocón faithfully wrote down what he heard but we should not expect him to recognise and label the structural function of sections of music (he’s not going to think, aha here’s a necessary half-compas or the like). The care he took to explain the rasgueado mechanism is evidence of his reliability and attention to detail. The fact that he doesn’t talk about the structural functions of chunks of flamenco music suggests rather strongly that he didn’t know about it and didn’t think in those terms.

Re-reading Ocón’s score now, with the eye of a performing practitioner, we can, without changing any of the notes or timings, re-label sections (the ‘doctoring’) in a way that reveals this Soledad to be a recognisable Soleá that one could play now without sounding like pre-flamenco or not-quite-flamenco-yet. This shows that the Soleá was a fully formed palo in Ocón’s day, and this matters because some scholars think it didn’t stabilise until later. (Here a quick reference to Buendia among others, no need to engage with his text, just give the citation so that anyone who cares can check. Also find some others who think as he does so that this is not just a matter of correcting one person’s error. A paper is only worth writing if it fixes some common fault.)

Have I got that right? As ever, I’m trying to articulate the juice in a way that slides around having to hack through the weeds of previous flamencology.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2023 17:42:15
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

Have I got that right? As ever, I’m trying to articulate the juice in a way that slides around having to hack through the weeds of previous flamencology.


Well, that is exactly it amigo, thanks!

The thing is, to state flamenco is “old” as in older than people seem to think it is, is an “extraordinary claim”. And likewise requires “extraordinary evidence”, and from my personal interpretation, that is EXACTLY what the Ocón transcription is. But other interpretations might not see it that way. There is a slim possibility that somewhere out there is more “extraordinary evidence”, perhaps also, being misinterpreted, or at least not being considered as highly valuable or relevant. So my main concern is with the “interpretation of the evidence”.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 22 2023 20:25:56
 
Brendan

Posts: 347
Joined: Oct. 30 2010
 

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Ricardo

I’ve been trying to get a grip on what the current consensus is on this dating question in the literature. Here is a relatively recent walk through the material, though this person is not playing for high stakes because he’s not a specialist flamencologist: https://www.sinfoniavirtual.com/revista/036/claves_flamenco.pdf
Also he ends up following words rather than tunes, with the consequences discussed already. I mean he counts the Ocón transcription and that fact that Arcas wrote a piece called ‘Soleá’ as two equally interesting bits of evidence.

Where would I find the people for whom the Ocón transcription is a problem? Apart from Buendia, who I know about. Steelhead, in his book (p. 48) seems happy to push soleá as we now know it back to the 1850s. Who are the leading lights of this consensus?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 26 2023 18:32:04
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14604
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Least favourite palos? (in reply to Brendan

quote:

Here is a relatively recent walk through the material, though this person is not playing for high stakes because he’s not a specialist flamencologist:


I read that a while back and upon review, you see a concrete date established (1833) as an amalgam of all the relevant info. So this date has an important significance in my own research, rather a line can be drawn precisely at 1834 for historical reasons, but ironically for absolutely zero reasons discussed in that article. It is not really “ironic”, from my view point, simply that the INTERPRETATION of the slim evidence is pointing to that date as significant for “some reason”. Please note the huge gap in the timeline from solea (1950) to the Estebanez references to song forms (Granaina, serrana etc., 1830). Seems they ignored there the reference to Perteneras in the same source that should push things back there as well (1838-70? LOL). Basically, for me, the tracing of SONG FORM TITLES, is the frustrating waste of time. Today, amongst flamencos themselves, song form titles are constantly changed around. Just see the recent Villancico Romance Norman posted as an example.

My years of training tells me this common ambiguity is being clearly expressed in the writings of Estebanez Calderon (his first person observation occurred in 1838). The only “new” cante expressed in that source was the Malagueña of Dolores, likely related to mellizo style performance in contrast to danceable versions. We can’t know what the specific titles refer to, however the GENERAL situation seems unchanged from present scenarios. The author admits the Caña and Romance formal structures (phrygian melody and accompaniment) as being decades or more old (“antiguo”), and preserved uniquely amongst the community there unlike other parts of spain. Further, he admits it having “Arabic” or “Moorish”, influence, confirming the typical aesthetic assumptions (wrong though they are) today. Keep in mind this is the SAME source (Estebanez) that gives rise to the bulk of flamencology opinion, including things like “Caña” is the root of the forms (makes zero sense, when Solea is the mother form and Caña and polo would be logical derivatives musically speaking, not vice versa), or the hermetic thing of Mairena, the three types of cantes, American, Andalusian, and moorish, etc. It is amusing for me to see various flamencologists deal with this stand alone source, a horrible double edge sword that says A LOT, and very little (ambiguous) both at the same time.

In terms of TIMELINE, Estebanez clearly calls to attention the strange manner in which oral tradition has preserved “ancient” music, and though he gives no date for how long these people have been doing this, taken together with the bullfighter songs of “Los del Aficion” observed by Borrow, centered in Sevilla and Jerez (La Cartuja is mentioned), a connection to horse caring friars and gitanos, 50 YEARS it had been cultivated and collected or preserved. So these TWO sources observed the SAME year (1838) point to the genre being much older than claimed by flamencologists. The problem is the “word” flamenco, and its odd secrecy (a secret movement is implied), which opens up gradually to the public arena, along with a gradual universal usage of “flamenco” as a terminology for the music. Older than this date of 1838, the concrete evidence of the Fandango copla is preserved by Felix Maximo Lopez via harpsichord (died 1820 so pushes Fandango back further as well).

Ocon should not be considered “Academic” like Arcas and other fakemenco examples. It is more a transcription of the legit formal structures….plus he lumps the material that is “flamenco” together instinctively (we find Fandango, Malagueña, Granaina/Muciana, Soledad, Polo, Saeta and nana, together at the end. As if Ocon himself instinctively needed to separate the real flamenco from the fakemenco polos and such. Conspicuously absent from the collection is Siguiriyas and other cantes thought to exist). His Granaina is a chord chart just like merengue de cordoba presents it, pointing only to cante entry points, ie, how to use as a blueprint. The “problem” with Ocon, is it is not placed in its proper category by researchers IMO. The fact he equates Fandango and Soledad together is significant, since we know concretely how old fandango to be (that is before 1820). Of course we have gaps in the fossils record here, but the stepping stones seem to me to point much further back.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Dec. 27 2023 19:59:51
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