Writings and essays about flamenco

Category — Welcome

Welcome

Welcome to a blog dedicated to flamenco in all its complex and confusing glory.  It’s a companion to my website, www.flamencoexperience.com

Here you’ll find flamenco news, silly comments, articles I’ve written and others I’ve translated from various Spanish sources, along with reports, rumors, recommendations, reservations, and random reflections on the state of the art.  Flamenco song, flamenco dance, flamenco guitar — they’ll all be considered in depth and with detail that is hard and often impossible to find elsewhere in English.

In some cases, my comments will reflect the prejudices, biases and occasional insights I’ve accumulated during five decades of chasing after good flamenco, including years in Seville, Granada and the town of Morón de la Frontera starting in the 1960′s, and recent years spent mostly in the city of Jerez, perhaps the last bastion of traditional hard-core flamenco.  You’ll also find comments, some new and some based on earlier internet postings, about flamenco in the U.S. (and New York in particular) over the years.

In clear violation of the new rules of cybercommunications, there will be no effort to keep it short or superficial.  Flamenco is a difficult and serious subject, and while many of its forms and performances can be radiant and broadly appealing, the most crucial styles often veer to and beyond the edge of desolation and despair.

And the study of flamenco is serious as well, with bitter arguments raging between traditionalists who fear that change will diminish its power and others who say it must evolve to remain relevant in a Spanish cultural, political and economic landscape that has gone from barely post-medieval to proudly postmodern in just two generations.

Many of the articles and interviews you’ll find here will seem so obscure as to be virtually meaningless.  What do the traditional flamenco song verses say, and what can they tell us today?  Who cares what a long-dead singer named Aurelio Selles once said about another long-dead singer, Juan Talegas?  Who cares what an old dancer from Granada remembers about her early childhood?  And even when the artists are very important today, does it matter what Carmen Linares or Manuela Carrasco or Farruquito or Paco de Lucía try to tell us about flamenco and its meaning to them?

It doesn’t matter at all, unless you really want to know what flamenco really is, what it’s really about, and where it has come from.  Without this knowledge, you’ll only have a fragmentary picture of the art.  That’s more than enough for almost everyone — remember, flamenco has always been an art for a small minority, even in the few Andalusian towns and cities where it has its strongest presence.

But it’s worth noting that flamenco’s most important contemporary artists — starting with the revolutionary Paco de Lucía himself — insist that it’s crucial for all would-be flamencos to understand what came before; to know the work and the stories of the men and women who transformed their suffering and their joy into great art and, sometimes, pure magic.

As a resource, this blog has the relatively new advantage of being searchable — an almost miraculous leap in accessibility and usability of information.  I hope that will serve the flamenco community well, both now and in future years.

For me, as for many other aficionados, entering into this world has been immensely rewarding.  Flamenco reveals deep truths about the lives of Spain’s people, Spain’s art and Spain’s soul.  More importantly, it can teach us about ourselves, our values, our mortality and our humanity.

Whether you’re just starting down this trail, or whether it feels like you’ve been traveling it forever, your company — and your comments — will be most welcome.

Brook Zern

Contemporary comment:  IMHO — OMG!!!  a blg abt FLMNCO?!!  can u Bleeve??  + soooo long! WTF?  like 4 who?  yeah, that’ll b popular!!  TOTALLY!!  LOL!!

BZ

October 6, 2011   No Comments