How Spanish Traditions Work

Traditional Spanish Music and Dance

If any one thing symbolizes the fieriness and passion of Spanish culture, it is its traditional music and dance, although there is no one form. Both are as varied as the country's culinary repertoire, influenced by the varied cultures that settled the region. Yet, if there is one genre that symbolizes Spanish fervor, it is flamenco, the country's chief musical export.

Flamenco, which dates back to the 1500s, is a fusion of four distinct cultures: gypsy, Moorish, Jewish and native Andalusian. Flamenco was once played solely by the poor. The guitar is the chief instrument of the flamenco, and strumming a flamenco beat is not easy. The rhythm is multifarious and is usually accompanied by the clapping of hands known as palmas [source: Classical Guitar Illustrated History].

Flamenco music accompanies the flamenco dance, the best known of the gypsy dances. There are three types of flamenco dance: the alegrias, which is the dignified form; the high-energy farruca; and the humorous bulerias. Each is categorized by different beats [source: Classical Guitar Illustrated History].

The rumba catalana is similar to flamenco. Born in the Catalonian port city of Barcelona, and nurtured by that city's musicians who saw new forms of music come onto the docks, the rumba arrived from Cuba during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Catalonian performers took the Cuban rumba and molded it into their own unique style [source: National Geographic].

The Celtics of northern Europe also influenced Spanish music. The music of Galicia and Asturias, both regions in northern Spain, is marked by the gaita, or bagpipes, along with drums. The jota, from Aragon in northeastern Spain, are upbeat, joyous songs, accompanied by dancing, castanets and tambourines [source: National Geographic].

Fortunately for the rest of the world, Spain was able to export much of its food, music, fashion and other traditions to other countries. In return, each region has put its own distinctive spin on these gifts. Whoever said, "He who says Spain, says everything" could not have been more accurate.

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