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History of Flamenco
Flamenco, an originally Gypsy art-form strongly influenced by Andalusian music, consists of three forms: the song (cante), the dance (baile) and the guitar (guitarra). Its first reference in history occurs in 1774, from Cadalso's "Cartas Marruecas". Flamenco probably originated in Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana, and is a descendant of musical forms left by Moorish invaders during the 8th-14th century. Influences from Greece, Egypt, Pakistan and India were also instrumental in forming the music. The word flamenco is most commonly considered derived from the Spanish word for Flemish, since in Flanders Spanish Jews were allowed their music without oppression, and where Gypsies had fought with distinction in war on behalf of Spain, and were rewarded by being allowed to settle in Andalucia.

The golden age of flamenco is said to be 1869 to 1910, later becoming more and more popularised internationally and influenced by South American music, especially the tango. Musicians from the golden age performed at bars called café cantantes, such as Café de Chinitas in Malaga, which was made famous by the poetry of Garcia Lorca. Other musicians of the early 20th century include Manolo Caracol, who walked from Jerez to participate in a cante jondo competition, which he won, in 1922. La Niń de Los Peines, a female singing star, is often considered the best woman singer of the 20th century.

Though the golden age had long since passed, the 1950s saw flamenco achieving increased respectability in Spain. Hispavox, a Spanish record label, released Antología del Cante Flamenco in 1956; the recording's collection of most all of the greatest flamenco singers was very popular. In 1956, the first national cante jondo competition was held in Cordoba, followed by a Chair of Flamencology being established at Jerez in 1958.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Antonio Mairena and similar artists helped kick-start a flamenco revival as American and British rock began dominating the Spanish music scene. Emerging from this, El Camarón de la Isla became one of the most popular and critically acclaimed performers of the century. His 1969 debut Con la Colaboracion Especial de Paco de Lucia inspired a new generation of performers that invented nuevo flamenco.

In the 1970s and 80s, salsa, blues, rumba and other influences were added to flamenco, along with music from Morocco and India. Ketama's 1988 debut, Ketama, was especially influential. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Madrid label Nuevos Medios became closely associated with the new flamenco fusion music, which came to be called nuevo flamenco.

Contributed by Wikipedia
5 January 2004

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