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Flamenco is a rather complex cultural phenomenon which is still investigated for its mysterious origins. The word flamenco itself has a complex etymology and only appeared two centuries ago; It may proceed from the Spanish world “flama” (flame) or from Arabic language being this last possible origin a pure hypothesis.
Flamenco must be essentially considered as a unique phenomenon which proceeds from the interplay between several cultures and traditions: Arabic, Christian, Jewish and Gypsy. In other words, the true origin has not to be found in one culture but in the historical and social circumstances which have allowed different communities to share life and to know deeply each other.
Being this element of cultural interplay and essential aspect, we must also consider the fact that flamenco has also a mysterious ancient origin. Federico Garcia Lorca, the poet of flamenco, had a deep knowledge of these issues and based one of his most famous lectures on a painting from the first century of our era found near Cadiz and on different descriptions of the same period. The drawings and paintings represent dancers with an incredible flamenco style and the descriptions speak of groups of artists which seem to work like the actual “tablaos” groups do.
It seems then that the root origin of flamenco is amazingly ancient but that the form as we know it today flourished through the multi-cultural phenomenon which begins much later after the 15th century.


Lifetime Flamenco Experience

Some studies have intended to connect directly the origin of flamenco art to the Arabic culture but this hypothesis can’t be considered as solid. In fact, Southern Spain belonged during four centuries to the Oriental Roman empire and the Harmonic structure of flamenco music comes directly from the Christian Oriental liturgy!
The Arabs of the Moorish period can’t be considered as creators of new musical structures. Their influence has more to see with a philosophy of life which leaded them to elevated levels of epicureanism.
Same thing with the Jewish tradition. If there is absolutely no doubt on the issue of the connection between the synagogue and flamenco art, this is much more a matter of feelings than something technical which may be scientifically confirmed. Lamentations, cries and singing in tears where common states of expression in the old synagogue just as it is in the deepest forms of “cante jondo”
But the most relevant phenomenon occurred after the arrival in the 16th century of the Gypsy community, probably from the north of Africa. At that time, the Spanish kingdom decided the expulsion of Muslims will where forced to leave the country is they didn’t convert. Part of the Muslim community refused to leave and found protection in the Gypsy groups which had recently settled in the region of Granada. This is the most relevant cultural interplay which allowed the transmission of all a tradition to the Gypsy community which will become rapidly the most relevant interpreter of flamenco art.
In other words, Gypsy people never invented flamenco but became and remain today the guardians of an incredibly creative tradition.
As we can see this unique artistic cultural tradition has a very complex origin which must be approached as a very unique treasure of multi-cultural interaction.


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