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There are three important performance roles in flamenco: cante, baile and la guitarra, that is, the song, the dance and the music which accompanies it – traditionally the guitar. Although the heart-wrenching, wailing style of singing may be something that some find a little difficult to appreciate initially, it is actually the backbone of flamenco. As flamenco is a tradition handed-down from one generation to the next, the importance of singers, with an interest in preserving the past styles, such as Tomás Pavón, and with an ability to remember and repeat them with understanding and depth of expression, cannot be underestimated.

Robinlynch01low

This illustration is by Robin Lynch, especially for my flamenco blog. Thank you, Robin.

There are set forms of cante, such as soleá, bulerías, fandangos, tangos and martinete – to name just a few. Each has a particular rhythmic structure; some are sung unaccompanied such as the saetas heard in the Easter processions of Semana Santa in Spain, some are traditionally not danced to, such as the martinete, until the flamenco dancer Antonio broke that tradition, and of course nowadays the role of la guitarra has been adopted by many other instruments who accompany singers and dancers alongside the guitar.

© 2010 Thérèse Wassily Saba

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