Writings and essays about flamenco

Category — Earliest Flamenco Recordings

Earliest Flamenco Recordings – 1900 and earlier – post by Brook Zern

Date:  Fri, Jan 8, 1999 10:38 AM EDT
From:  Brook Zern
Subj:  The earliest flamenco recordings

Alfonso Eduardo Pérez Orozco’s post of 1/5, which I translated and sent moments ago, mentions flamenco’s great good fortune in being among the very earliest musics recorded by the new-fangled medium of the phonograph.  Apparently, a team of Edison’s associates were sent to Spain, and starting in Seville and Cadiz, they documented flamenco song in the very earliest years of our century.

Here’s a post I sent a few years ago that bears on this topic:

“The big Diccionario Ilustrado del Flamenco (Cinterco, out of print), under Discografia Flamenca, reprints a wonderful flyer for an event that took place on Thursday, October 11, 1900.  Evidently it was a public playing of gramophone records, on calle Ancha 15  (I’m not sure of the city — maybe Seville? [No, Jerez]).  It cost 10 céntimos to get in and hear 64 sides being played.

Among them:  Soleares, by Mochuelo; Malaguenas, by Sr. Garcia; Guajiras by Mochuelo; Peteneras Nuevas; Tangos Nuevos; Soledades [Soleares] Nuevas; Malaguenas by Mochuelo and some other tasty titles.

Another early but undated flyer lists 5 double-sided discs by Sr. Juan Breba (as Breva was often written); Fandanguillos/Verdiales; Peteneras/Guajiras; Malaguenas/Malaguenas Fandanguillo; Soleares/Soleares; and Soleares/Malaguenas; and 5 others by Sr. (don Antonio) Chacón: Tarantas no.1/Tarantas no. 2; Murcianas no. 3/Malaguenas no. 1; Mineras no. 1/Tango no. 2; and Seguidillas no. 2/Malaguenas no. 3.

The text says that the cylinder system, invented in 1889, arrived in Spain by the end of that century — but was largely supplanted by the single-faced disc in 1905 (so the above double-faced discs would be later).  The first listening session in Spain took place in Seville, in the Fonda Europe, and included flamenco — the martinetes interpreted by La Gitana de Jerez.  A magazine that appeared from 1893 to 1901 mentioned a cylinder by Antonio Chacón in the last issue.  Apparently others had been made by then — including cylinders by Maruja de Triana, El Canario, Cagancho, Revuelta, Casas, Juan Breva, Niño de Cabra, Paco Aguilera (not the guitarist), El Diana, Macaca, Enriqueta La Macaca, Paco el de Montilla, Candelaria Fernandez and El Mochuelo, who in 1901 had a considerable quantity of recordings.  The first discs appeared in 1901-1902 — small, just 18 cm in diameter, single-faced, by El Canario Chico, El Mochuelo, La Rubia, Niño de Cabra, Niño de la Hera, Sebastian Scottta [sic, with all three t's] and others.  Most companies making flamenco discs in Spain were parts of foreign operations (including U.S. and French companies).  The entry goes on at length about later developments, but this should help resolve the first-records issue.

Brook Zern

February 11, 2014   No Comments