The Castanets in Flamenco

June 5, 2022

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The Castanets in Flamenco

My position is and has always been that it is absolutely correct to have the castanets in flamenco.

I have essentially two reasons for this position.

First the castanets themselves.

There are essentially two different ways to play castanets.

One technique is used for Spanish folk music and the other technique is specific to flamenco.

If you pop over to my videos page you can see a movie where no less than three castanet players accompany me playing Guajira.

They are using the flamenco technique.

Second and perhaps more complex is my understanding of flamenco itself.

For many decades people have incorrectly stated that there is no folk in flamenco.

Most important to understand here that the so -called Andalusian folk music has absolutely nothing to do with the sound and mood that people often associate with folk music outside of Spain.

Understanding folk in flamenco

Andalusian folk music is in fact simply a term to refer to the music of the people of Andalusia.

Understanding this is crucial.

If we look at all of the flamenco forms, we can see that so many of them are developments of the Andalusian musical expression.

This is particularly noticeable in flamenco forms such as Malagueñas, Verdiales de La Alpujarra, Fandangos de Huelva, Fandanguillos, Tanguillos de Cádiz and Sevillanas, if you accept of course that these really are flamenco.

The confusion, I think that forms such as Malagueñas and Fandangos have versions which are very much not folkloric in their interpretation. That is to say very much less light hearted; far more serious and sorrowful.

Castanets in purist flamenco

Some would say that when expressed in this sorrowful way these forms become more flamenco.

Up to a point, yes.

The generally accepted principal, which incidentally I do not share is that the purest expression of flamenco is always tragic.

On the contrary much of the flamenco repertoire is celebratory and light hearted.

This is leading us to an understanding that castanets might be considered acceptable for the lighter forms but no so for the very serious flamenco styles.

One such serious form is called Seguiriyas, also pronounced Siguiriyas. (Not to be confused with Seguidillas)

A number of flamenco dancers have included castanets in their interpretation of Siguiriyas.

Such acts have been defined as sacrilegious, especially by the very purist flamenco experts.

My conclusion is that I do not find it sensible to indiscriminately exclude castanets from flamenco.

I think that there is a place for the castanets in flamenco.

Each person has to decide personally what they feel is right for them.

Make an enquiry

I’m based in Buckinghamshire but I love to perform all over the UK and abroad. If you have an event, wedding or party, telephone or email me to chat about your ideas.

I provide and can adapt the following flamenco guitar services to make your event extra special:

Solo flamenco guitar
Flamenco guitar with flamenco dancer(s)
Duets of guitar and castanets
Flamenco guitar with Spanish singer
Spanish Classical Guitar

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