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The Individual and Combined Influences of Arabic and Moorish Music on Flamenco

Introduction:

Plato, the ancient Athenian philosopher and a disciple of Socrates (428-347 BC) had once commented – “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” Perhaps that is the secret force with which every musical form broke the geographical boundaries and Flamenco, though characterized by strong, rhythmic undertones as powerful and graceful as the complexly arranged hand and footwork (clapping and tapping) that are essentially its own, couldn’t stay away from the lusty, eerie and lovelorn melodies from the heart of Arabia. But before we analyze the recipe, we must know about the ingredients.

The Preface:

 

  • Moors: One of the Muslim people of north Africa; of mixed Arab and Berber descent; converted to Islam in the 8th century; conqueror of Spain in the 8th century. Hence Moorish i.e. relating to or characteristic of the Moors.
  • Arab: Semitic people originally from the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding territories who speaks Arabic and who inhabits much of the Middle East and northern Africa. Hence Arabic i.e. relating to or characteristic of Arabs.

Studying the progressions:

 

Things started taking shape much before Flamenco started meeting the eyes of the world populace by the late-eighteenth century; although we can’t help but notice today the multiple, unique characteristics separating Flamenco from the Andalusian folk music tradition, the roots of Flamenco’s technical excellence owes as much to the 11th century Moorish Spain – also a manufacturing center for musical instruments. The Moor-occupied Spain (the southern portion) lasted for about 800 years and the cross-pollination of science, economy and culture also influenced the traditional Spanish music form; the flamenco guitar, as we see it today is a result of it. But the greater part of the development of flamenco is lost in history, leaving behind only the fact that the Moors, Arabs and the Gypsies contributed generously to it.

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