Sevilla Day 5: New Musical Forms

Why and how are you new forms of music created and developed?  How did Flamenco come to be?  How did Rebetika, Gypsy Jazz, or Grunge come to be?

Last night after my second flamenco show at Peña De Macarena, I had a great conversation with Paul from Rotterdam about the origins of Flamenco music coming from the gypsies and how it connects to modernity.  I looked at an entire regional culture giving and taking from a rich musical tradition that requires incredible technical prowess and development to perform.  Yet nothing new is being created, persay.  The blood, sweat, and tears necessary  to perform this unbelievably poetic music preserves a beautiful tradition.  But how was Flamenco perceived when it first started to emerge?

I bet people scoffed.  “Those gypsies, they’re just doing what gypsies do.”  (What’s ironic is that gypsies remain marginalized throughout Europe despite their monumental contributions to European culture, from Flamenco to Gypsy Jazz).  My guess is that today’s closest equivalent is rap.  My one question about rap, however, is: where is the virtuosity?  Writing verse?  But that isn’t a unique feature to rap.  Meter and verse…possibly.  Harnessing computer technology for musical purposes?  Perhaps.

The common thread running through these new forms of music over the centuries appears to be that they emerge from socially and economically marginalized groups.  Flamenco from the gypsies, Rebetika from the downtrodden Greeks, blues from dispossessed African Americans, and so on.  Fifty years onward, what will be next?

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