Sal's flamenco soapbox

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What flamenco is NOT

The Gipsy Kings

Just so you know, I occasionally receive emails from Gipsy Kings converts who swear I've lost my mind. How dare I say the Gipsy Kings are not flamenco artists? I plead innocent your honor, since I am only repeating what they say themselves. Information from Gipsy Kings web sites describes their music like this: "What the Gipsy Kings play today is traditional Spanish Gypsy music taken one step further. It has been called Flamenco/Rumba and while its roots are in Flamenco, the more up-beat rumba is what we know them for."
(Gipsy Kings FAQ)


Nicolas was most profoundly drawn to folkloric styles such as Cante Jondo while his brothers favored Rumba-Flamenca, which was easier to dance to. There was no conflict between them as the band moved in a pop direction while holding onto the raw, jagged vocals and "palmas" clapped rhythms derived from their Spanish heritage.
"Flamenco", explains Nicolas, "is the purest essence of our music - we could compare it to Jazz music. It is the deep shout and tears of our community. Rumba-Flamenca is the popular expression of Flamenco.....Today, with the coming of new technologies, faster development and diffusion and, hopefully, with the renunciation of racial and social prejudice; it is natural that traditional music will change."
(Nicolas Reyes interview)


In other words, they acknowledge their style has its ROOTS in flamenco. That is very different from saying that flamenco is what they actually play and sing. If you want to criticize me because of the way I comb my hair, that's fine. But please don't misinterpret what I'm saying. I'm not rubbishing the Gipsy Kings at all. I like their music a lot. In fact, Tonino Baliardo is one of my guitar heroes but.....
here comes the big BUT..... it's not flamenco.

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