Music of Spain


For many people, Spanish music is virtually synonymous with flamenco, an Andalucian-Gitano form of music. However, regional styles of folk music abound.


Flamenco, an originally Gitano art-form strongly influenced by Andalusian music, consists of three forms: the song (cante), the dance (baile) and the guitar (guitarra). Its first reference in history occurs in 1774, from Cadalso's "Cartas Marruecas". Flamenco probably originated in Cádiz, Jérez de la Frontera and Triana, and is a descendant of musical forms left by Moorish invaders during the 8th-14th century. Influences from Byzantium, Egypt, Pakistan and India were also instrumental in forming the music. The word flamenco is most commonly considered derived from the Spanish word for Flemish, since in Flanders Spanish Jews were allowed their music without oppression, and where Gypsies had fought with distinction in war on behalf of Spain, and were rewarded by being allowed to settle in Andalucia.

Regional folk music

Spain's autonomous regions have many of their own distinctive folk traditions, especially in Basque Country, Galicia and Catalonia. There is also a movement of folk-based singer-songwriters with politically active lyrics, paralleling similar developments across Latin America and Portugal.

Basque Country. The Basques are a unique ethnic group, unrelated to any other in Spain and with uncertain connections abroad. The main form of Basque folk music is called trikitrixa, which is based on the accordion and includes popular performers like Joseba Tapia and Kepa Junkera. There is also choral music, as well as Basque stars that sing in Spanish like Luis Mariano and Duncan Dhu.

Balearic Islands. Majorca's Maria del Mar Bonet was one of the most influential artists of nova canço, known for her political and social lyrics. Tomeu Penya, Biel Majoral and Joan Bibiloni are also popular.

Canary Islands. The Canary Islands were formerly inhabited by a North African Hamitic people called the Guanches. Aragonese jota is now popular, and Latin American musical (Cuban) influences are especially widespread, especially in the presence of the charanga (a kind of guitar).

Murcia. Murcia is a dry region which has very strong Moorish influences, as well as Andalusian. Flamenco and guitar-accompanied cante jondo is especially associated with Murcia.

Extremadura. Having long been the poorest part of Spain, Extremadura is a largely rural region known for a strong Portuguese music. The zambomba drum, which is played by pulling on a rope which is inside the drum, is found throughout Spain but is characteristic of Extremadura. The jota of Aragon is common, here played with triangles, castanets, guitars, tambourines, accordions and zambombas.

Castile, Madrid and Leon. A large inland region, Castile, Madrid and Leon are predominantly Celtiberian in cultural origin, showing influences from Celtic and North African sources. The area has been a melting pot, however, and Gitanos, Portuguese, Jewish, Roman, Visigothic and Moorish sources have left a mark on the region's character. Aragonese jota is popular, but uniquely slow in Castille and Leon. The instrumentation also varies here much more than in Aragon. Especially in northern Leon, Galician influences are common, especially in the appearance of the gaita. The Maragatos people, of uncertain origin, have a unique musical style and live in Leon, around Astorga. The city of Salamanca is known as the home of tuna, a serenade played with guitars and tambourines, mostly by students dressed in medieval clothing. Madrid is known for chotis music. Andalusian flamenco is popular throughout Spain, with the central regions especially known for flamenco.

Navarre and La Rioja. Navarre and La Rioja are small region that has diverse cultural elements. Northern Navarre is Basque in character, while the southern section is more Aragonese. The jota, a form of music more closely associated with Aragon, is also known in both Navarre and La Rioja.

Aragon. Aragon is a rural region inhabited by people of Iberian descent, primarily, though Celtic, Moorish and French influences remain. The jota is a genre now popular across Spain with historical roots in the southern part of Aragon. Jota instruments include the castanets, tambourines and flutes. Aragonese music can be characterized by a complex percussive element, possibly a descendant of North African Tuaregs and Berbers. The guitarro, a unique kind of guitar, is also Aragonese in origin.

Valencia . Valencia has a kind of popular dance called "La Jota" that we is also found in other parts of Spain, especially Aragón. Valencia has a reputation for musical innovation, and performing brass bands called bandes are common, with one appearing in almost every town. The group Al Tall is also well-known, experimenting with the Berber band Muluk El Hwa.

Catalonia. Catalonia is best known for sardana played by cobla. There are other traditional styles of music like ball the bastons, galops, ball de gitanes. And the music take personality in cercaviles and celebrations similar to Patum. The habaneres singers remain popular. Today in the young people is very popular the music movement called Rock Català, and some years ago was relevant the Nova Cançó. The Catalan gipsies has created their own style of rumba called rumba catalana.

Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias. Northwest Spain (Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria) is home to Celtic-derived culture and folk music. Local festivals celebrating the area's Celtic influence are common, with Ortigueira's Festival del Mundo Celta being especially important. Drum, bagpipe and pipe groups are the most common form of Galician folk music, and include popular bands like Milladoiro. Bagpipe virtuoso Carlos Nuñez is an especially popular performer; he has worked with Ireland's The Chieftains and Sinead O'Connor, United States' Ry Cooder and Cuba's Vieja Trova Santiaguera. Galician folk music is characteristically the alalas song forms. Alalas are believed to be chant-based popular songs of a long history, perhaps closely related to Gregorian chanting. Some scholars also point to a Greek origin, or Phoenician rowing songs.

Andalusia. Andalusia is best known for flamenco, a popular form of Roma music (see below for more information). The region has also produced singer-songwriters like Javier Ruibal and Carlos Cano, who revived a traditional music called copla. Kiko Veneno and Joaquín Sabina are popular performers in a distinctly Spanish-style rock music, while Sephardic musicians like Aurora Morena, Luís Delgado and Rosa Zaragoza have made Andalusia a center for Sephardic music.




  • (cordofoni)

  • (aerofoni)

  • (ancia libera)

  • (membranofoni)

  • (idiofoni)

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