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Western Europe and the Nordic Countries -- Spain (¡Flamenco!)

From the very earliest days of documented Spanish music-making, music on the Iberian peninsula has fused different rhythms, melodies, customs and cultures. The Ancient Greeks, the Romans, Christians and Moorish Muslims, roaming Romani and all sorts of refugee Jews...there were always people with varied interests and musical abilities passing through Spain, and they always had a tale to tell.  

The folk music of Spain varies from region to region, from community to community, probably even from neighborhood to neighborhood. For example, the music of Galica, ruled by Celts for centuries, still retains a Celtic character. Music from Basque Country has a distinct sound due to the unique instruments used in creating it. (more about Basque music below.)  Castalonia, in the far northeast, encompasses the dynamic city of Barcelona and is home to the "Catalan rumba," a genre that developed in the 1950s in Barcelona's Romani communities.  The primary Andalusian musical genre, and the closest Spain comes to having a "national" music, is Flamenco.    

In class this week we become flamenco dancers. We stand tall. We stomp our feet. We are fantastic.  

We also sing:   

We sing "We Are Happy," a hello song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we sing hello in Basque: "Eup."    

Ah Ca Ira” is a forceful song from Revolutionary-era France – the people will be victorious! (More.)  

E Qee Qee” is our version of a Greenlandic drum dance. (More.)    

Ay Carmela” is a song from the Republican forces fighting in the Spanish Revolution – “and then one night the river passed, Ay Carmela, Ay Carmela...!” (More.)  

Formidable” is our version of a classic by the prolific pop icon Chrles Aznavour,  '"the French Frank Sinatra.” (More.)  


What is "Basque music?" Is it music from any linguistic or cultural background that originates from the region of Spain known as Basque Country? Is it any Basque language or Basque cultural music that Basques create no matter where they live? Spanish Basque Country is located in the north of Spain along the southern side of the Pyrenees mountains. French Basque Country is across the border. [Who are the Basque anyway?  .

Toward the end of the 19th century Basques both in Spain and France rallied behind their language and shared culture and began to talk seriously of breaking away from Spain and France to form their own nation. Nationalist leaders very consciously promoted speaking and creating music in the Basque language as a means of uniting Basque people and stirring pride in the uniqueness of their homeland. From 1939 to 1975 the dictatorial government of General Francisco Franco outlawed the Basque language, but Basques maintained their language, music and folk dances defiantly in private. Today Basques are free to sing, dance and speak their language, but the Spanish and French governments still don't look kindly on the idea of Basque independence. (Who are the Basques anyway?)

Whatever your definition of "Basque music," Basque-language music from Spain's Basque Country has a distinct sound, primarily due to the unique Basque instruments used in creating it. A traditional Basque folk ensemble will likely include musicians who play a reed instrument called the alboka, a diatonic accordion known as the trikitixa also the unique two-person percussion instrument known as the txalparta. From time to time you may also hear the irrintzina, which is a "Basque yodel." Ever hear an irrintzina? Listen and enjoy. 

See you in class,