Un poquito de flamencology 9 - Tangos de Granada
El aire del Moro
In my previous ‘flamencology’ post featuring ‘Tangos de la Repompa’, I mentioned the interwoven relationship between Tangos from Málaga and those of Granada:
Málaga and Granada
Whether we call them Tangos de la Repompa as widely known, or Tangos de la Pirula as they should originally have been, we can’t help sensing similarity with Tangos de Granada. In fact, if not all, some of them are also known as Tangos de Granada. When I was a beginner dance student, I learnt a choreography of Tangos de Granada to those Tangos, including the famous letra of ‘El que quiera madroños’.
Geographically, Málaga and Granada are neighbouring provinces, and there is no wonder if flamenco singers in both regions travelled the close distance to give performances in local tablaos and fiestas, so that they could learn and influence each other’s distinct styles. Although, in flamenco, we should respect differences and characteristics of regional variations respectively, some features could get blended, interconnected and interwoven through history and artistic communication.
While having certain similarities to other Tangos families, the most distinctive feature of Tangos de Granada is, in my personal opinion, el aire del Moro, the air of the Moor: somewhat Arabic and earthy, simple but flavoursome with an aroma of rich history. When I danced Tangos de Granada at Peña Flamenca de Londres last weekend, I asked the guitarists to set the tempo very slow and create the soundscape of ‘al Moro’, trying to avoid sounding too cheerful or too energetic as what flamenco audiences usually expect from usual Tangos.
Although we chose different letras, what I modelled for my Tangos de Granada was something like this:
Tangos de la Penca - Marina Heredia
Thanks to stars like Marina Heredia and Estrella Morente, Tangos de Granada has gained certain popularity among flamenco fans. It’s also adored by singers who aren’t necessarily from the region. Carmen Linares, for example, recorded an homage to Granada stars of previous generations such as Tía Marina Habichuela, Tere Maya and Carmelilla del Monte:
De Color de Rosa - Carmen Linares & Juan Habichuela
This is how one of such inspirations, Carmelilla del Monte, sang her Tangos de Granada:
Tangos de Granada - Carmelilla del Monte
Apparently this palo should capture the atmosphere of flamenco in Granada. In this sense we should look back to their ancient fiesta style called Zambra, influenced by Moorish culture, typically found in caves in Sacromonte. Though it has been twisted as a touristy act these days, the earthiness and purity still give us pleasure.
In the world of baile flamenco, Tangos de Granada is rarely used for a baile solo but our ears often notice the typical letras of Tangos de Granada being used for a conclusion part of other binary rhythm palo. In this regard I must admit that I’m a bit fussy - I’d feel a bit disappointed if Tangos de Granada is used for Tientos, as if the singer doesn’t pay much attention to the different feelings of different Tangos as far as the rhythm fits. Rather than Tientos, to me, Tangos de Granada matches more with Tarantos, which has a strong connection to Almería, another Andalusian soil where Zambra is also rooted:
The beauty of Granada
Having said that, just like other flamenco palos, Tangos de Granada could also be open to new ideas and modern arrangements as far as el aire del Moro is still there. This lovely creation by Miguel Ángel Cortes will hopefully take you to an imaginary trip to beautiful Granada - enjoy :)
Graná Toca por Tangos (Tangos de Graná) - Miguel Ángel Cortés & Marina Heredia
Un poquito de flamencology 8 - Tangos de la Repompa (23rd January 2022)