Understanding the role of the Spanish Guitar in Flamenco Music

It was during the 15th century in Spain that the Guitar began to emerge. However, it was not the instrument we would recognize today. This is because it developed from Instruments within the Islamic tradition. A predictable result of the Moorish invasion of Spain. Through a series of innovations and improvements, these instruments were gradually modified.

The contemporary Guitar, the one we would recognize today, was the end result. Often considered to be one and the same,"the spanish and classical guitars, while obviously similiar, have significant differences. The Classical Guitar being an instrument with a larger body and a warm tone, while it's Flamenco Brother produces the sharper tone necessary for being heard above the clicking heels of Flamenco dancers. This is a result of the tonal qualities of the cypress and spruce woods used in it's construction.

Federico Garcia Lorca, argueably the finest poet Spain has yet produced was strongly influenced by Flamenco. As evidenced by his poems - "Poema del Cante jondo" and "Romancero Gitano." So it should come as no suprise then that he and the famous composer of Spanish Music, Manuel de Falla, joined forces to further the cause of what they regarded as the true form of Flamenco music - Cante Jondo or "deep song." During that era, this style of Flamenco was virtuallmy ignored. As it didn't appeal to the patrons of the cafe's where the more "watered down" version of the music was presented. Attempting to counter this and expand the musical horizons of the music loving public at large, in 1922 Lorca and de Falla organized "The Fiesta del Cante Jondo.

The first cafe cantante opened in Seville in 1842, and attracted very little attention. An audience of aficionados from all classes and occupations watched the performance.They could expect to be entertained by a group comprising perhaps one or two singers, three or four female and two male dancers, accompanied by two guitarists.

As the demand for this "theatrical" presentation of Flamenco gradually increased, so did the demand for guitarists. As you would well imagine the openings were few, and the guitarists were many. Some resorted to extreme methods, such as playing with the guitar held above the head, or with a glove on one hand in order to attract attention and forge ahead of their musical competitors.

While the singer remained the leading figure, the guitarist came to take a less subservient part as time went on.

Technically speaking Flamenco is a folk art and culture from the province of Andalusia in Spain.Historically, it has always been the musical outlet of the poor and oppressed.Passed on by oral tradition which the individual artist uses as the basis for his own variations.