East Meets West – 2  

Once upon a time, when I was young and taking a music class on non-western music, I wrote a paper on the roots of Flamenco music. Unfortunately, this was long enough ago that the paper was written with a manual typewriter on paper and I have no idea whatever became of it. The only trace of it are the vague memories of what I wrote.

Those memories, however, do seem rather interesting in light of something that I found recently.

My main thesis was that Flamenco started in India, but then  traveled into Europe and across the middle east, during which times it picked up influences from Hungarian gypsies, Jewish cantors, and Islamic song before finally coming together and blending with the native influences in Spain.

This may have been interesting as the fevered ramblings of a young mind, but recently I have been watching a concert given by Anushka Shankar and her supporting musicians, and a flamenco troupe featuring a guitarist and singer. You can see the video here.

The amazing thing for me was that hearing the interplay between the guitar and sitar makes that link between east and west very clear.  The Wikipedia page on the studio album describes it in a way that makes me happy to know that I was not the only one to notice this link:

Shankar first came across flamenco when she travelled to Spain as a teenager. During that trip, she visited a small flamenco bar and was electrified by different stage performances. Her album Traveller was built around the idea that Spanish flamenco may have its origins in India. “In Indian music, we call it ‘spirituality,’ and in Spanish music, it’s ‘passion’.


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