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Music of Spain

For many people, Spanish music is virtually synonymous with flamenco, an Andalucian-Gypsy form of music. However, regional styles of folk music abound, and pop, rock and hip hop are also popular.

Table of contents
1 Regional folk music
2 Flamenco
3 Pop Music
4 References

Regional folk music

Spain's autonomous regions have many of their own distinctive folk traditions, especiall in Basque Country and Catalonia. There is also a movement of folk-based singer-songwriters with politically active lyrics, paralleling similar developments across Latin America and Portugal.

Basque Country

Euskadi, or Basque Country, is home to a lively style of folk music called trikitrixa, based on a diatonic accordion. Kepa Junkera and Joseba Tapia are probably the most famous performers of trikitrixa. There has been influences of Tex-Mex artists like Flaco Jiménez.

Other Basque instruments are the alboka, a difficult wind instrument made with horns, the txalaparta wooden beams and the txistu (similar to a tin whistle).

There is also a tradition of choral music, like the Orfeón Donostiarra and Mocedades.

Basque artists singing in Spanish have a wider market sometimes reaching Spanish America, examples are Luis Mariano, La oreja de Van Gogh and Duncan Dhu. Other Basque artists singinn in Basque include Oskorri, Benito Lertxundi, Fermin Muguruza and Azala.


Mallorca's Maria del Mar Bonet was one of the most influential artists of nova canço, known for her political and social lyrics. Tomell Penya and Joan Bibloni are also popular.


Valencia has a kind of popular dance called "La Jota" that we can find in other parts of Spain too (especially Aragón). Besides Valencia is known as the Land of the music too because a lot of its inhabitants can play any music instrument and there are numerous groups called Bandes or Bandas, one or more in every village or town.


Catalonia is best known for rumba gitana (also know as rumba catalana), a popular style of music made famous by the Frenchmen Gipsy Kings. Habanera singing and the sardana dance also remain popular.

Galicia and Asturias

Main article: Music of Galicia and Asturias

Northwest Spain is home to Celtic-derived culture and folk music. Local festivals celebrating the area's Celtic influence are common, with Ortigueira's Festival del Mundo Celta being especially important. Drum, bagpipe and pipe groups are the most common form of Galician folk music, and include popular bands like Milladoiro. Bagpipe virtuoso Carlos Nuñez is an especially popular performer; he has worked with Ireland's The Chieftains and Sinead O'Connor, United States' Ry Cooder and Cuba's Vieja Trova Santiaguera.

Galician folk music is characteristically the alalas song forms. Alalas are believed to be chant-based popular songs of a long history, perhaps closely related to Gregorian chanting. Some scholars also point to a Greek origin, or Phoenician rowing songs.


Flamenco, an originally Gypsy art-form strongly influenced by Andalusian music, consists of three forms: the song (cante), the dance (baile) and the guitar (guitarra). Its first reference in history occurs in 1774, from Cadalso's "Cartas Marruecas". Flamenco probably originated in Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Triana, and is a descendant of musical forms left by Moorish invaders during the 8th-14th century. Influences from Greece, Egypt, Pakistan and India were also instrumental in forming the music. The word flamenco is most commonly considered derived from the Spanish word for Flemish, since in Flanders Spanish Jews were allowed their music without oppression, and where Gypsies had fought with distinction in war on behalf of Spain, and were rewarded by being allowed to settle in Andalucia.


There are two forms of flamenco songs: cante jondo and cante chico. Cante jondo are slower and usually feature sad lyrics about disappointed love or death, while cante chico are much quicker, more popular and dance-oriented. The concept of duende is very important in flamenco. Loosely, defined, duende is a spiritual or emotional bond between the performer and audience, created by the performer's intense concentration and passion.

There are multiple styles (palos) of flamenco, including:

The guitar is a vital instrument to flamenco; it marks the measure of a song, and is frequently used in expressive solos during which the guitarist will improvise short variations called falsetas. Ramón Montoya was the most influential early guitarist, known for having solidified the guitar as a solo instrument. His successors included Manolo Sanlucar and Paco de Lucía.


The golden age of flamenco is said to be 1869 to 1910, later becoming more and more popularized internationally and influenced by South American music, especially the tango. Musicians from the golden age performed at bars calle café cantantes, such as Café de Chinitas in Malaga, which was made famous by the poetry of Garcia Lorca]. Other musicians of the ealry 20th century include Manolo Caracol, who walked from Jerez to participate in a cante jondo competition, which he won, in 1922. La Niñ de Los Peines, a female singing star, is often considered the best woman singer of the 20th century.

Though the golden age had long since passed, the 1950s saw flamenco achieving increased respectability in Spain. Hispavox, a Spanish record label, released Antología del Cante Flamenco in 1956; the recording's collection of most all of the greatest flamenco singers was very popular. In 1956, the first national cante jondo competition was held in Cordoba, followed by a Chair of Flamencology being established at Jerez in 1958.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Antonio Mairena and similar artists kelped kickstart a flamenco revival as American and British rock began dominating the Spanish music scene. Emerging from this, El Camarón de la Isla became one of the most popular and critically acclaimed performers of the century. His 1969 debut Con la Colaboracion Especial de Paco de Lucia inspired a new generation of performers that invented nuevo flamenco.

In the 1970s and 80s, salsa, blues, rumba and other influences were added to flamenco, along with music from Morocco and India. Ketama's 1988 debut, Ketama, was especially influential. At the beginning of the 1990s, the Madrid label Nuevos Medios became closely associated with the new flamenco fusion music, which came to be called nuevo flamenco.

Pop Music

Some of Spain's most famous singers are:

In addition to these, some famous groups, like Mecano, Héroes del Silencio, El Último de la Fila and others came from Spain.

Also from Spain was the famous trio of singing clowns Gaby, Fofó y Miliki.