Flamenco - Styles Influenced by Flamenco

iLve flamenco. © Michelle Chaplow
Live flamenco.

Styles Influenced by Flamenco

There are certain styles of song and dance that fall outside of the flamenco boundaries, styles that have connections to the art of flamenco but whose origins lay in Spanish or even South American folk music. There is also a group of flamenco styles known as Ida Y Vuelta, which basically means “There and Back”, and these styles come from outside of Spain, mostly from Latin America.



The Rumba is a style from Cuba, which is thought to have arrived in Spain after the war between Cuba and America in 1898, as there were many Andalucians conscripts in Cuba, and they brought these songs back with them after the war was over.

The rumba became popular with the gypsies of Barcelona, and is also performed by many of the flamenco fusion groups such as the Gypsy Kings. Rhythmically it is similar to the Colombiana.

The colombiana is thought to have its origins in a Latin American folk song, although there are some experts who put its creation in the hands of Pepe Marchena. Juanito Valderama was another artist that excelled in these lighter styles of flamenco, but he, along with Pepe Marchena, was frowned upon by the die-hard critics.

In their eyes, Marchena and Valderama destroyed the face of pure flamenco with their warbling, overly-commercial styles. These styles are in complete contrast to the cante jondo since they are a lighter and easier on the ear. These types of song come complete with melodies and in some cases even a chorus – extremely unorthodox.

Also in this category are the Guarjira, which is also from Cuba, and the Milonga, which is a folk song from Argentina.

Then we have the “flamencoized” styles that are not flamenco in origin but have been adopted by artists, gypsy and gaucho alike, and performed at religious and festive celebrations.

The Villancico is another style that contradicts the traditional rules of flamenco, but they are now considered as flamenco and sung as flamenco Christmas carols.

In Andalucía, the villancicos are called zambombas, and they are sung around a fire, most commonly, but not exclusively, by gypsies in the week leading up to Christmas.

The name zambomba derives from the drum which is used to accompany the song. The drum has a stick inserted through the skin, which is pulled up and down creating the rhythm. The zambomba is sung in choral form and with an assortment of tunes, which is not normally found in traditional flamenco.

The Verdiales is a form of folk dance that has its roots in Arabian music, but it is the prototype of the fandango, a variety from which Juan Breva created the Malagueña style that we know today.

The malagueña is thought to be one of the most difficult styles in the flamenco repertoire, but the sight of a Panda de Verdiales (the name given to the band which performs the Verdiales) is very un-flamenco.

The musicians dress normally in white shirts, with waist coats and cummerbunds, hats that resemble an Easter bonnet, and an array of colourful ribbons attached to their hats and clothing. They use a variety of different musical instruments including the guitar, violin, tambourines, and small bells attached to ribbons.

The verdiales are danced by couples and groups, and have been described as Málaga’s festive answer to the Sevillanas.

The sevillana is thought to have originated from the Seguidilla, an ancient dance from Castile in central Spain, and not from Seville as believed by many. It is though, in Seville, where you will witness the most authentic styles of this lively dance, especially during the April fair. People dance the sevillana in the street, in bars, and anywhere that there is a gathering of people who want to enjoy the feria atmosphere.

An assortment of colourful flamenco style dresses, silk shawls and hand-painted fans will be found in abundance during feria week, and the sevillanas will seem to be the main focus, around which, everything else is based. The sevillanas are performed to a set of carefully worked out steps of which there are four sections.


Rocieras have roots in Flamenco © Michelle Chaplow
Rocieras have roots in Flamenco 

There are also many different styles of sevillana including, Sevillanas Boleras, Corraleras, Biblicas, Rocieras, and Marineras to name but a few.

The saeta is sung to the images of the passion, during the Easter week parades.
The images stop at certain spots along the route where a singer will perform one of these old songs, where normally from a balcony. The haunting wail of the singer can be quite a chilling experience.

The saeta is an unaccompanied song stemming from Jewish religious songs which are believed to date back to the 16th century, and today it is performed by many flamenco artists to the frame of the martinete or the siguiriya, two of flamencos oldest styles.

None of these styles are flamenco in the strict sense of the word, but they have all been added to the flamenco repertoire by dancers and singers alike.