Return to Flamenco

photo by Peter Duncanson
photo by Peter Duncanson

Most musical genres I know are ones I discovered in the classroom. Flamenco is not one of them. Today, when my friend played the Gipsy KingsMosaique on his homemade turntable, I recalled aspects of the music that I learned while attending a flamenco show in Seville, Spain nine years ago. Then, I counted along with the compound meter to follow the syncopated clapping of hands and tapping of feet. I noticed the Middle Eastern influence in the frequently pitch-bent vocals that occasionally dissolved into marcato speech. Most remarkable to me in those two hours, however, was the visible respect exchanged among the dancers, the vocalists, and the guitarists as they accompanied, listened to, or watched each other’s solos. During the trip, I saturated myself in the genre by buying a two-disc anthology of some of the most well-known Spanish flamenco musicians. I have not listened to that album in a few years, but today’s vivid return to flamenco provoked a pedagogical challenge: in this era of convenient YouTube videos and practical Naxos subscriptions, how do I introduce my students to more music live?

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