The origin of the word fandango is unclear. Does it mean a Spanish dance with quick moves? Or is the fandango, like the jota of Aragon, of Moorish origin? For the fandango has, in its original form, common traits with the Arabo-Andalusian Zambra and with Mozarabic music. The fandango spread to all the areas of Spain to practically become, in the 19th century, the national song and dance of Spain.
The fandango is at the origin of almost all the toques that constitute the modern repertoire of the cante. In the large family of the fandango flamenco, there are 3 distinct groups: the songs of Malaga or Malagueñas, the songs of the Levant and of the Mines, and the songs of Huelva.
The Granadina: Georges Hilaire thus describes the granadinas: "They are kufic axioms embroidered on the walls of the women’s quarters in the Alhambra, they are the calligraphic writing with arabesques of ideograms on the fences of the Capilla Real; they are the web of arachnidan veins of agate and marble that write the history of the chapel of Cartuja… Thus is the granadina, a mosaic of rhythms and delights, always wet with tears. It is the fragile and enchanted kingdom of regret.” (listen to a Granaina)
It is said that the granadina is a song that came about when flamenco characteristics were added to a style of fandango popular in Granada; however some of its melodic forms betray an important debt to melodies of Arabic origin.
The Media Granadina, on the other hand, was created by Antonio Chacón who, feeling constrained by the granadina, developed this style by giving free reign to his vocal range and to the brilliant sonorities of his voice. The media granadina is a favorite among gypsy singers because it expresses well a brief but intense tragedy, and uses a particularly rich musical scale: it speaks of voluptuous misery, gently repressed rebellion, regretful parting, and inexpressible grief. (listen to the Media Granaina of Chacon)
- Quiero hartarme de llorar;
- Dejarme un momento solo,
- Dejarme que ponga flores
- A esa tumba tan sagrada,
- Recuerdo de mis amores…
The Songs of the Mines derive from the terrible suffering of the miner, and the daily tragedy that awaits him underground. These cantes are rich in nuances, and conceal immense musical and technical difficulties. The verses are long and the music meanders. There is no defined rhythm, so the singer is at the same time freed and left to his own, having to overcome the difficulties step by step, verse after verse. These songs demand clear and brilliant voices. They are best suited for extremely mature and technically accomplished singers, who can control particularly well their breathing
The Taranta may owe its name to the word "tarantela", or may be derived from "taranto," a popular adjective that refers to the natives of Almeria. It may have originated when flamenco characteristics were added to some popular fandango from Almeria. It is a cante whose performance is extremely free, allowing the singer to innovate according to his own capabilities.
The taranta is a sober, hard and virile chant, that starts with a kind of repetitive, nostalgic and complex stanza. A possible pitfall, that singers try to absolutely avoid, is to make it into a brilliant vocal exercise of scales.
The taranta is the traditional lamentation of the miner who is cursing his solitude, with a candle his only companion "y la salida; no la encuentro…" there is no exit to be found… (listen to a Taranta)
The Minera is another song of miners closely related to the tarenta. It escapes from the underground galleries with fragmented, chopped, almost demented modulations. It is even more anxious and tragic than the taranta. (listen to a Minera)
- La vida para aborrecerte,
- Si estuviera en mi agonía
- Yo no lo consenteriría.
- Mejor prefiero la muerte
- Que dejar de quererte un día.
The Cartagenera, a Mediterranean cante, is an unaccompanied lament sung in quarter tones. It is reminiscent of the very moving cadences of the cante jondo. (listen to a Cartagenera)
With the Murciana, tragic delectation ends, and we get a glimpse of earthly paradise.
Almost any corner of Andalusia has its own fandago, born of ancestral customs deeply rooted in local history. In Huelva, have flourished the most varied styles, issued of a same source, yet with clearly differences in their melodies and tonalities, giving rise to a large fan of different styles.
In the case of the fandangos of Huelva, a small branch of the rich tree of cante, there are 68 distinct modalities. Many are named for their specific creator, some for the town where they were born, while the rest are totally anonymous and are clumped together under the title of fandangos personales. (listen to a Fandango local)+ (another Fandango local), (listen to the Fandango de Cepero-personal) (Fandango de Caracol-personal).