Music and Society: Theory and Practice of Flamenco

Universidad de Sevilla

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Music and Society: Theory and Practice of Flamenco

  • Host University

    Universidad de Sevilla

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Music

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Broadly defined, Flamenco is a complex performative art which includes song (cante), dance
    (baile) and guitar music (toque), originally embedded in a particular lifestyle and world view. Tracing its
    origins to approximately the mid-nineteenth century, Flamenco has been associated with Spanish
    Gypsies (gitanos), a community instrumental in its development and who represent the majority of its
    practitioners, and with the culture of Andalusia in Southern Spain. The exoticization of Spain during the
    19th century stimulated Flamenco’s broader development and popularity until it eventually grew to
    become a powerful national icon, while it continues to be regarded as a quintessential expression of
    Spanish culture.
    Our emphasis is on acquiring an aural, visual, and theoretical understanding of Flamenco, of the
    streams of culture which created it, and of its role within Spanish culture, and on using the study of
    Flamenco as a vehicle to explore the relationship between art and culture, music and society, and the
    ways in which we think, talk and learn about Flamenco.
    The intention of the practical part of the Course, the Flamenco dance class, is not to train future
    Flamenco dancers, although many students go on to further study. Rather, it is designed to give
    students an understanding of the mechanics, aesthetics, and basic canons of an art form that is so often
    described as being purely spontaneous and free. The dance class centers on learning the basic postures
    and steps of the Flamenco vocabulary and the techniques of footwork. We also study the “compás”
    (rhythmic cycle) and learn to play “palmas” (rhythmic handclapping). Above all, we try to understand
    how Flamenco dance is structured and the essential relationship that links dancer, guitarist and singer.
    At the end of the Course, in addition to a final paper and final exam, students will perform the
    simple choreography they have learned, accompanied by a professional singer and guitarist. This tends
    to give them an entirely new appreciation of the complexity of both the dance form and the culture in
    which it is embedded. Evaluation in this part of the class sessions is based on attendance, effort and
    improvement, each student performing at his or her own level; ability or prior dance training is not
    Requirements: The pre-requisites for this Course are an interest in Cultural Studies and a love of
    music and/or dance.

    The class may meet twice a week or once a week for a double session. Each class is divided
    approximately into one half dedicated to lecture time and the other half to the dance class, although
    this may vary from session to session. Video screenings, listening sessions, and live performances are an
    important complement to the theoretical studies offered. Students’ personal responses to these
    sessions are an important part of developing an understanding of the art form.
    The basic text material to be used during the Course is drawn from a variety of sources, ranging
    from the Romantic travel writers to the biography of the great Gypsy flamenco dancer, Carmen Amaya,
    whose career spanned most of the modern history of Flamenco and intersected with all the important
    figures of the time. Students will also choose one out of three short books written about an individual’s
    personal experiences in the Flamenco world of the 1950s and 1960s, and will be expected to present a
    “book report” on his or her chosen text.

    UNIT 1 INTRODUCTION: What is Flamenco? Resources; What do we know and how do we know it?
    UNIT 2 The Flamenco Repertory
    UNIT 3 Pre-flamenco
    Spanish folk music and other influences
    UNIT 4 The Gypsies
    Gypsies of the world; Gypsies of Spain. The Flamenco Fiesta
    UNIT 5 The Beginnings of Flamenco
    18th and 19th century travellers, the Foreign eye and the Romantic aesthetic. bailes de candil,
    tavernas, salones, academias.
    UNIT 6 Flamenco’s “Golden Age”
    Cafés Cantantes, The cuadro flamenco; development of a format and a repertory
    UNIT 7 Intellectuals and Flamenco
    The Generation of ‘98, Antiflamenquismo,
    Lorca, Lorca, Falla and the Concurso / Competition of 1922.
    UNIT 8 Flamenco in the Theater
    The Opera Flamenca, “Spanish Ballets”, and the beginnings of theatrical Flamenco, Flamenco
    styles abroad
    UNIT 9 The Flamenco Renaissance
    Antonio Mairena and the New Purism.
    The Tablao Flamenco.
    The “Boom” and Tourism in Spain.
    Franco and the Marketing of Spain.
    UNIT 10
    Modern Flamenco Andalucía: 1950 - 1970; “Rock Andaluz”, Morón de la Frontera, The roots of
    today’s dance, Mario Maya and Antonio Gades.
    The Musical Transition: Paco de Lucía, Camarón de la Isla.
    Baile Gitano, cante gitano; Flamenco as a marker of Gypsy identity.
    New training grounds; Flamenco de Tablao, Flamenco de Academia
    Stretching the limits; Flamenco Fusion.
    UNIT 11
    The New Flamencology
    New trends in Flamenco research

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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