The striking views of Alhambra with the snow-topped Sierra Nevada Mountains blend into the unique landscape of the city and its surrounding. The Alhambra itself is the most modern contribution of Islamic UNESCO Heritage as it was home to the kings who ruled over a vast kingdom. Capital to the province of Granada, the last Muslim kingdom of al-Andalus used to extend further, from Gibraltar to the north of Murcia region, just south from Valencia. The kingdom had a northern border of over 1000 km of mountain ridges and the southern Mediterranean coast as its southern border. Granada itself was a refugee city that emerged in times of turbulence amongst the different Muslim regions, tribes, armies and governors that brought down the Umayyad Caliphate itself. Having 250 years of Muslim history than Córdoba, Seville and the rest of Al-Andalus, Granada represents the modernization of Al-Andalus and its infusion into the Christian north through generous protection money, paid by Muslim kings to have their borders secured by and from their own neighbour kings. This fragile balance would break again due mostly to inner turbulence and a solemn desire by the Catholic Kings to take over the city, and for which goal Spain itself was declared, uniting four kingdoms into one, through the marriage of Isabelle and Fernando in 1469.
We provide choices for you to extend your plan in Granada through daytime plans and excursions,
FLAMENCO: A GYPSY-ANDALUSIAN LOVE AFFAIR
Flamenco: A Gypsy-Andalusian Love Affair
Oye, hijo mío, el silencio.
Es un silencio ondulado,
donde resbalan valles y ecos
y que inclinan las frentes
hacia el suelo.
Listen, my child, to the silence.
It is a silence that comes in waves,
where valleys and echoes slide
and brows incline
towards the ground.
El silencio, Federico Garcia Lorca
Music has to be one of the most enjoyable ways of bringing history to life.
Although the Muslim period in Spain officially ended in 1492 with the handover of the Granada emirate to the Castilian King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Islamic culture miraculously managed to survive in hidden form over the following five centuries. One of the ways that Muslim culture left its mark was through its influence on Spanish folk music.
Flamenco, the impassioned musical form that is the polka-dotted hallmark of gypsies in Southern Spain, provides us with a fascinating window into the relationship between Moriscos and Gitanos, Spain's branch of the Roma people. It is not hard, upon listening to Enrique Morente, José Mercé, La Paquera or Estrella Morente, to hear something of the vocal dexterity and sorrow present in much of Arabic song.
While flamenco is generally associated with the Gitanos, it is in fact fairer to say that it is an Andalusian music form, a product of the encounter between Gitano and Andalusian folk music. Even the term 'gypsy' is a misnomer; originating among the Jatt clan from present-day India and Pakistan, the nomadic people now called Romanis began their long odyssey West in the 11th century, moving gradually through Persia before branching into Northern and Southern Europe. Upon arriving at France's border with Spain in the 1400s, some were given passports mistakenly naming them as the "Princes and Counts of Little Egypt". However, in meeting the Muslim elements still present in Andalusia, these two marginal cultures formed a circle that embraced East and West and cast an echo into each other that would emerge as song.
Cante jondo, the most ancient of the flamenco styles, preserves most clearly the 'primitive songs of the oriental people', according to Lorca himself. It are characterised by a narrow vocal range, repetition of notes in a way that is reminiscent of spoken word (or even rap), interspersed with the dramatic embellishment that makes flamenco singing so distinctive. It also used semi- and micro-tones, which are also used in Persian and Arabic music, and a complicated rhythm that famously cannot be notated but must be felt. This group of styles are strikingly similar to the sound of Qur'anic recitation.
Certain flamenco melodies, such as Camarón de la Isla's la Tarara, are plainly the same as North African melodies, while the zambra style of flamenco dance, performed at gypsy weddings, evolved from older Moorish styles and has many similarities to belly dancing. The word 'zambra' in Moroccan Arabic simply means 'party'.
T.B. Irving writes in The World of Islam that "Gypsy music and cante jondo go back to the zajal[sung Arabic lyric poetry] and the five-tone scale." Musicologists even trace the ubiquitous flamenco cries 'Ay ay ay!' and 'Ay li li!' to the calls of blind Arab mendicants, 'Ya 'ain!' (O, eye!) and 'Ya, taeel!' (O, night!). Most quintessentially 'flamenquito' of all, however, is the exultant '¡Olé!' shouted whenever a musician (or, for that matter, bullfighter) pulls off some crowd-pleasing trick, which almost certainly originates in the Muslim cry 'Wa'Llah!' (By Allah!) made during poetry recitals.
A Brief History of '¡Olé!'s
In the medieval period, Moriscos (forcibly baptised Moors who were often suspected – with good reason – of continuing their Islamic faith in secret) found themselves thrown together with two other persecuted groups within Spain's melting pot of ethnicities, the Gypsies and the (crypto-)Jews. The meeting of cante gitano (gypsy song) and Andalusian folk music as early as the 16th century seems to have been the starting point that would, many years later, lead to the development of flamenco.
But it was not until the late 19th century that flamenco would start to garner public interest as a performance art, with the opening of a new type of café, the 'café cantante'. Though the first one to open, in Seville in 1842, attracted little attention, by the 1860s similar cafés were springing up all across Andalusia and as far afield as Madrid. Two guitarists, one or two singers and a handful of male and female dancers would appear on stage to entertain the crowd, bringing together the three basic elements of flamenco: dance, song and guitar.
The latter half of the 19th century was flamenco's golden age of performance. Up until this point, flamenco songs could be accompanied by violins, tambourines and bandourrias (a 10-stringed instrument similar to a mandolin), but now the guitar – particularly the solo – became enshrined as a vital component of flamenco. It was at these cafés that the founder of the modern school of flamenco, Ramón Montoya (1880-1940) found acclaim.
The years preceding and following the Civil War (1936-9) saw flamenco's nadir, with paid performances hard to come by and morale low; Spain preferred the light-hearted croonings of popular singers such as Antonio Chacón, and the more operatic or balletic flamenco performances such as those popularised by Granada's Manuel de Falla.
But during the 1950s an abundance of musicological and anthropological book sbegan to appear on flamenco, paralleling a revival of the music form. From the 1970s on, there have been fusions with rock, blues, funk, pop, electro, house and chill-out through artists such as Smash, Pata Negra, Ojos de Brujo, O'funk'illo and Chambao. From the 1960s onwards, 'tablaos' began to replace to 'café cantantes' as establishments specifically offering flamenco spectacles. In modern times, flamenco has seen something of a return to its roots, led by musicians who are also known for great innovations in flamenco, such as the late Enrique Morente and his daughter Estrella.
Andalusi impact on flamenco
Al-Andalus, the predominantly Muslim period of Iberian history that spanned from 711 to 1496 CE, is renowned for its role in the cultural flourishment of Western Europe; one important aspect of this cultural exchange was music. Moorish Spain and Portugal had by the 11th century become an important centre for the manufacture of musical instruments, which gradually began arriving in Provence. The first contribution that Muslims might be said to have made on flamenco is simply by providing the guitar, the instrument that would come to be the sine qua non of flamenco performance.
William VIII brought Moorish music into European courtly life with the transfer of hundreds of Muslim prisoners to Poitiers from Andalusia, captured during the so-called Reconquista. Many of the instruments used in medieval France passed through to England and the rest of Europe, leaving an imprint on the French troubadour tradition as well. Thus the European terms for dozens of medieval instruments are derived from Arabic, the most common of which are the guitar (from qitara), lute (from 'oud), rebec, the predecessor of the violin, (from rebab), and naker, a small drum which was the forebear of the kettledrum (from naqara).
Andalusian classical music is thought to have originated in Córdoba in the 9th century, possibly invented by the Persian musician, trendsetter and general man-about town Ziryab, or 'Blackbird' (d. 857), who was invited to 'Abd ar-Rahman II's court in Córdoba around 800 CE. Ziryab was also an inventor, adding a fifth string to the oud and dying the strings colours to signify the humours; he also established one of the first conservatoires in Spain, which influenced the singing and instrumental styles of Cordoban music for two generations. Later, the poet, composer and philosopher Ibn Bajjah of Zaragoza (d. 1139) is believed to have fused Western styles with those invented by Ziryab to formulate a new musical style than then spread across al-Andalus and beyond.
When the Muslims and Jews of al-Andalus were expelled after the Reconquista, the exiled Andalusis carried their musical styles to Morocco and Algeria, where Andalusian classical music would develop more fully. This is a form of music composed of suites, a little like ragas, each one of which is called a nubah, which is itself subdivided into 5 mizans. It is said that there were originally twenty-four nubahs, one for each hour of the day; however, only 11 have survived in Morocco and 16 in Algeria.
Meanwhile in Spain, flamenco was developing along its own lines, though strikingly similar in many ways to the sister culture that influenced it centuries before. It does not take a musicologist's knowledge to hear the similarities which resonate across the vast space of time that separates, and yet somehow also unites them:
(Examples - youtube clips)
Both flamenco and Middle Eastern vocal styles are rich in floridly ornamented vocals, complicated rhythms, and impassioned voices expressing the depths of sorrow or loss – largely in the Phrygian scale, the minor scale with a distinctive augmented second interval that makes flamenco, Arabic and Persian music seem like long long siblings. The late Lois Lamya al-Faruqi wrote that "The ornamental melodic style, the improvisatory rhythmic freedom, the sometimes 'strange' (to Western ears) intervals, the segmental structure, and the repeated excursions from and returns to a tonal center are some of the features that indicate Arab influence on cante flamenco."
In 1922, the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla organised a Cante Jondo competition for Granada, which many classical musicians and popular literary figures – such as the poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca – contributed to, the results of which were presented in the Alhambra in June of that year. Lorca went on to present an entire conference on Cante Jondo, in the conference notes of which he writes:
'"Cante jondo" approaches the rhythm of the birds and the natural music of the black poplar and the waves; it is simple in oldness and style. It is also a rare example of primitive song, the oldest of all Europe, where the ruins of history, the lyrical fragment eaten by the sand, appear live like the first morning of its life.'
Procedencia andalusi del caracter flamenco
- Igualmente que en el árabe se usa prefijos como abu o umma, ibn o bint para determinar la procedencia filial y el árbol genealógio, en el flamenco los nombre de escena ha seguido la misma lógica. Nombres como Niña de los Peines, Antonio de Mairena, La Negra, Camarón de la Isla, Bernarda de Utrera o Paco de Lucia.
- Entre la puerta de la calle hay un zaguán. Dentro, una agujero con una Virgen de escayola, flores y velas encendidas. En el pasado el agujero se llamó guenizá, cuando contenia lámparas con varios brazos y la Torrah, objetos importantes para los judios sefardíes. O se llamó taqa si lo que habia era un tasbih y un Corán, objetos de valor para los musulmanes andalusíes.
El zaguán comprate raiz etimologica con zawiya, lugar donde vivían, enseñaban, oraba, peregrinaban y enterraban a los santos y sufiés. Cuando los hijos y nietas de los conversos perdieron el recuerdo de aquellas reliquias, colocaron en el hueco del zagúan a sus Vírgenes para adorarlos y sentirse protegidos, y con el ejemplo de la corrupción del lenguaje lo llamarón ´´San Juan´´.
- ´´El quejío flamenco condensa ambos traumas: el de quienes lo perdieron todo con tal de no abandonar su tierra; y el de quienes abandonaron su tierra con tal de no perderlo todo. Pero el grito se quedo aqui.´´
- El nucleo del Flamenco es mankub, ya que la lengua árabe distingue a las personas según la gravedad de la expropiación que hayan sufrido. Cuando a una persona le quitan lo que tiene y lo que es, su ropa y la manera de vestirse, su lengua y la manera de hablar, su Dios y la manera de adorarlo, termina siendo una marginada, excluida, rechazada, apestada, mancillada, maldita, un nadie. En árabe se dice mankub.
- A los que se quedaron se les consintió cantar y bailar en leylas (del árabe layla) y zambras (del árabe zamra, significando grupo o banda), y una soléa, transliteraciónde salá. La interjección <<arsa>> significa que se le canta a la Verdad Suprema del al-haqq al-’aqsa
- A los tres grupos más importantes se unió pronto otro más: el de los esclavos negros, que con la llegada del oro y la plata de América, se vieron desplazados de las minas que se cerraban, las de Guadalcanal y Almadén.
Debieron ser los negros subshararianos esclavos los que pusieron nombre a los bailes que trajeron consigo y que compartieron con el resto de marginados. Palabras flamencas como zorongo, tango o fandango. Es inegable la influencia africana de aquellos que terminan en <<ngo/nga>>
- Decía Lorca ´´el gitano es el que guarda el ascua, la sangre y el alfabeto de la verdad andaluza y universa´´. Asi es desde que el pueblo gitano acogió en su seno a los demás pueblo malditos, moriscos no asimilados y negros libertos, ya que ninguno de ellos se considera castellano. Todos son gitanos, todos andaluces, todos flamencos.
- Como esclavos los negros vivian en las dependencias de sus dueños, pero tras su muerte era deshauciado a la moreria y gitaneria donde se integraba como uno mas.
- Originarios de los <<kala>> (sánscrito para negro o piel oscura), los gitanos andaluces de la raza calé formaban parte del único pueblo sin casta de la India. Tras ser expulsados de Persia y Armenia se asentaron en los reductos humanos de Al Ándalus.
El Flamenco nace cuando muere el Al Ándalus, tras cien años de soledad desde la conquista de Granada, la expulsión de los judios, la persecucción de los gitanos y las órdenes de asimilación a la lengua, al Dios, a las ropas, a las comidas y a las costumbres castellanas. Cien años de soledad pero no de amnesia, duele olvidar los que se ama.
´´El Flamenco fue la alacena donde la gente más humilde y más digna almacenó el doloroso recuerdo de su arcadia amada.´´
- Al escuchar los cantes nos penetra el alma una angustñia del siglos. Llevan el quejío de un pueblo jornalero sin tierra; resonancias del llanto árabe que se escapó por la puerta de Elvira para recorrer el Al- Ándalus, cuando los últimos nazaries perdieron Granada; suena a doliente el lamento de los expulsados hijos de Sefarad, que dejaron, en tierra tan suya como de cristianos y musulmanes, los huesos de sus antepasados convertidos en polvo del camino, olivos y encinares.
- La expulsión de los moros granadinos, la de los judíos y los primeros édictos contra los gitanos forjaron la identidad de las dos Españas. De una parte los cristianos viejos, vencedores de una contienda de siglos donde los campos no estuvieron definidos la mayor parte de las veces. La España de la cruz y la espada no permitía sino vivir y morir en el marco de una sola creencia religiosa, bajo las normas establecidas por los estamentos del poders.
When Toledo surrendered to Alfonso VI of Castilla and León, between 1083 and 1085 CE (461-463 AH), the city passed into Christian hands without a fight, along with several other settlement in the Castilian kingdom.
After the Castilian conquest, the city grew with the new inhabitants that arrived from the north. The Jewish and Muslim inhabitants were not expelled, although some of the Muslims’ religious buildings were requisitioned; thus the main mosque was transformed into a church, dedicated to Saint Mary.