The following article is from Flamenco World, which is in English and Español.
The roots of flamenco have evolved in southern Spain from many sources: Morocco, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Greece, and other parts of the Near and Far East. How exactly they came together as flamenco is a subject of great debate and a very interesting story...
Gypsies from the south of Spain have created this music since their arrival in Spain in the 15th century. It is widely accepted that they came from Sind, a northern region of India, (now Pakistan). They they left in several waves because of invasion and wars with foreign conquers. The tribes of Sind moved to Egypt until they were thrown out. They then left for Czechoslovakia, but they knew that they were not going to be welcomed anywhere because of their numbers so they decided to divide themselves in three groups that moved to different parts of Europe. The first document to register the arrival of gypsies to Spain is from 1447.
Those known as Gypsies called themselves "Ruma -Calk", (it means man from the plains or runner from the plains) and spoke "Calo" (from the Indian dialect Maharata); they used to be nomads, crafstmen and shepherds.
The gypsies have always lived as a nomad culture and take the local music and make their own versions from it. Music is very important in their celebrations and everyday life. All they need to start to make music is a voice, and they soon start to add rythms with their hands and feet. They have always liked embelishments, improvisation and virtuosity and in Andalucía they found a rich ground for their musicality, fertilized by hundreds of years of high culture, where not only Moorish, but also Judish, Catholic and local musical influences mixed.
The Moores had occupied Spain, and particularly the south, for about 800 years, science, economy and culture florished in a rich mixture of cultures. During this time the predecessor of the flamenco guitar was introduced and developped. It is believed that the word "flamenco" is a mis-pronunciation of the Arabic words "felag" (peasant) and "mengu" (fugitive). It is known that flamenco began to be used as a synonimous for "Andalucian gypsy" in the 18th century.
from Flamenco World
Differences between a Flamenco guitar and a conventional classical guitar:
"Many of the larger builders offer Classical and Flamenco Guitars. Flamenco Guitars often have a slightly smaller body so that they can be sat higher on the lap. They tend to have a teardrop scratch plate for the golpe and other percussive strokes. They tend to have a more percussive tone, in which the energy you put into the instrument strings comes out louder, over a shorter period. This allows better articulation of the rasgueado and rhythmic strokes, together with a high degree of clarity when playing quickly."
"In contrast, the Classical guitar often has a larger soundbox - many now call themselves Concert Guitars. The sustain is better and the sound more mellow. But they can be a little woolly when playing Spanish music."
"Horses for Courses."
"It is often good to try your guitar alongside others in the same environment."
Comments by Derek Hasted from cguitar-digest Digest V98 #256 firstname.lastname@example.org
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