Stringing my Life Together: Purishpa takini, takishpa purini.

More snippets of Gitano background/history…
2007/03/30, 01:23
Filed under: Flamenco Violin, Global Music Ed

“A culture suspended in time.” [Bustamente, 1998].
Supposedly older than the Greek/Roman and the Christian/Judaism traditions…perhaps one of the oldest “ethnic groups” of the earth.

Gypsies/Gitanos were once thought to have been from the Byzantine Empire and Egypt (Egipto, egipcianos, gitanos…Bustamente highlights the relations between the words), but upon further research their origins are linked to Northern India…most likely in between the Indo and Ganghes rivers, and the states of Punjab and Rajastan.

There are two terms used for the gypsies in Spain…one is gitano and the other is cíngaro/zíngaro. Gitano is used to describe the gypsies in Andalucía, while the cíngaro refers to the gypsies in the Cataluña region (Barcelona). Although some suspect that the gitanos were the gypsies that traveled from India, through the Middle East, Byzantine Empire, Egypt and North Africa up into Spain, and the cíngaros accumulated some European cultures as they crossed Eastern and Western Europe into Spain through the Pyrenees mountains, the Spanish government never really differentiated between the two. [Bustamente and Monleón].
The gypsy culture, as is evident of the rate of illiteracy, is a culture that relies heavily on oral tradition and that has little documentation of what has happened over the centuries.

– Appr. 1500 years BCE, the ancestral tribes of the gypsies lived in India with the Brahmans for some time, but many decided to leave in the diaspora/migration/exile because the Brahmans had created a society of castes which the gypsy tribes remained outside of, eventually becoming the “untouchables.” One of the first places they populated was modern day Afghanistan.
– 1400s: Many had converted to Christianity while in the Byzantine lands. Arrived in Spain. (Supposedly the first document referring to their arrival in Spain is from 1447 [Scottish Arts Council]).
– 1492: Reyes Católicos/Ferdinand and Isabella persecuted not only the Jewish and the Moorish people during the Inquisition, also the Gitanos, even though many of them were Christian. Were persecuted on the grounds that rituals they retained from their original culture were accused of being pagan or witchery. [Bustamente].
– 1558: Ghettos for gitanos constructed. Spaniards wanted the gitanos to leave their nomadic lives and moutain homes and live in the outskirts of cities.
– 1631, 1692, 1783: Phillip the IV and Carlos II passed other laws trying to dictate how the gitanos should live (ie. prohibited to wear traditional clothes, etc.). Carlos III tried to integrate them as “neocastellanos” to end the nomadic lifestyles. [Monleón].
– 19th century: Become a focus of the romantic fixation of exoticism and exploitation of “exotic” lands. Positives and negatives.
– 1869-1910: Flamenco’s “Golden Age.” A time when the shows were beginning in the cafés cantantes (cafés with singing). These later became the tablaos [Scottish Arts Council].
– 1922: Manuel De Falla, a famous Spanish composer of the Post-Romantic and early 20th century musically connects flamenco and classical art music. He also organized a contest for “cante jondo” (profound singing) in Granada. [Scottish Arts Council].
– 20th and 21st Centuries: As of the last several years at least, the Spanish government and other organizations have been created to address the interests of the Gitanos. For example there is the Gypsy Secretorial Foundation, and the Interantional Day of the Gypsies: April 8th.

The violin has traditionally been associated with the gypsies of Eastern Europe, and the guitar with the gitanos of southern Spain…but recently the violin has been incorporated into flamenco. Flamenco has been going through some changes, some being purists and believing it should be traditional, but other things like flamenco fusión have been created.
The cajón, or percussion box is an introduction from the mid twentieth century – introduced by Rubem Dantas, who felt it fit in flamenco, after a tour in Latin America (Perú). It soon became a staple in flamenco instrumentation. (1970s or 1980s, I’m guessing?!?!) []
Other non-traditional instruments that are used and have famous flamenco players are electric/jazz bass, double bass, piano, sitar (CONNECTION WITH INDIA!), lute, accordion, saxophone, flute, cello, tabla (CONNECTION WITH INDIA!)
Flamenco fusión also refers to hybrids of flamenco with other genres such as electronic chill (Chambao), jazz, rock, blues, pop, hip-hop, reggae, rap, salsa, bossa nova, and Cuban tres (Cuban music) among others.

OJOS DE BRUJO – An example of a band that is a flamenco hybrid. Mixed with reggae, rap, hip-hop and other styles, usually described as flamenco hip-hop. They are based in Barcelona. Unfortunately, Gio and I weren’t able to see either of the two concerts they had in Madrid while we were over there 😦

GypsyMigration ReyesCatolicos PlazaMayor


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