Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
one stanza. Ballads are also found in Spain; they deal, typically, with the heroism of the medieval warriors such as Charlemagne and El Cid, and their content has more in common with the epics of Eastern Europe than with the tragic ballads of Britain, impersonal as the lat­ter usually are. The arrangement of a group of ballads around a hero is rather like the clustering of epic tales around a leader such as the Serbian Kraljevic Marko (Prince Marko), and it has something in common with the cycle of Robin Hood ballads, which were once sung throughout Great Britain. Some of the themes of Spanish bal­ladry are of wide provenience, however; the same stories have been found, on occasion, in French and Scandinavian songs.
When one thinks of Spanish folk music one perhaps thinks automatically of dancing, and, of course, there are many Spanish folk dance types: the jota, the gitana, the seguidillas, the bolero, the fandango, the murciana, and others too numerous to mention. Each district has its own version of the dance types of national proveni­ence. The jota, a combination of song and dance, is one of the most interesting. In rapid triple meter, it is danced by a couple—originally it was probably a dance of courtship—whose complicated footwork and difficult castanet rhythms are especially fascinating.
The flamenco tradition of Andalusia in Southern Spain is per­haps the most widely known aspect of Spanish folk music. It is not typically Spanish, for it is particularly the music of the Spanish gyp­sies, although it probably did not originate with them but was simply taken over by them. The gypsies, who inhabit many countries of Southern and Eastern Europe, have a tradition of entertaining and, evidently, a talent for emphasizing and exaggerating the most char­acteristic elements of the folk music in each country in which they live (in addition to continuing their native tradition). Thus, for ex­ample, the Russian gypsies have developed a style out of the Russian folk tradition, and the Spanish gypsies have fashioned the flamenco style out of elements already present in Spain.
A type of flamenco music is the cante hondo, which means "deep" or "profound song." The words are frequently tragic, some­times verses of complaint against injustices. The range of these songs rarely exceeds a sixth, and the structure is not strophic but consists of irregular repetitions and alternations of two or more phrases with variations. The singing is highly ornamented and contains occasional microtones. It is often accompanied by the guitar, which performs simple repetitive chord sequences in rapid triple meter: J J*Ttt *
The words of flamenco proper are usually erotic, and the dance

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III