Country of origin: Spain
Flamenco and the Spanish Gypsy community are closely linked. Flamenco originated first in the Andalusian gitanerias (Gypsy slums) and was passed down from generation to generation, thanks to the patriarchal family clans of the gypsies.
The gitanos (Spanish gypsies) arrived to Spain in the 15th century. The origin of Flamenco is an object of many discussions and numerous books. While some scholars make a connection with the music of the former rulers of Andalusia, the Moors, other Spanish researchers find stronger connections with Castilian romances (ballads).
Geographically, most Spanish flamenco historians have determined that Flamenco was created in Lower Andalusia, which includes the entire Cadiz province, southern Sevilla province and the Ronda area of Malaga province. Key towns and cities in this area include Flamenco cradles such as Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz province), Moron de la Fontera (sevilla province), and Ronda (Malaga province).
From Lower Andalusia, flamenco spread to the rest of Andalusia’s provinces: Huelva, Granada, Cordoba, Jaen and Almeria, as well as the neighboring province of Badajoz in the Extremadura region (western Spain) and the province of Murcia in southeastern Spain.
By the early 19th century, Flamenco was part of the entertainment at Andalusian inns (posadas) and taverns (tabernas). The early Flamenco artists were mostly poor gypsies and payos (non-Gypsies in caló, the Spanish Gypsy language) who performed as a pastime. As the popularity of Flamenco grew, some of the artists became professional performers.
The experienced cantaores (singers) who accompanied themselves on guitar were hired sometimes with dancers to perform at private parties, trade fairs and at Flamenco festivals for foreign visitors seeking a glimpse of Spanish culture.
In the 1950's, a revival of Flamenco was supported by poets, writers and numerous followers.
In the 1970 guitarist Paco de Lucia revolutionized flamenco by adding non Flamenco percussion and jazz elements. His Brazilian percussionist, Rubem Dantas, introduced the Peruvian cajon to Flamenco, and ever since it has become a common instrument used by many Flamenco performers. Variations of the Peruvian cajon are now manufactured in Spain under the name of cajon flamenco.
Today, Flamenco artists are well respected. Numerous young Gypsy musicians who grew up listening to rock are now rediscovering their families' Flamenco roots, creating new hybrid forms.
The musical forms of Flamenco, cante and toque are divided into palos which can be translated as styles or subgenres. The basic palos are: soleares, siguiriyas, tangos and fandangos. These in turn have generated more than thirty variations, most of which are still sung today.