Music of Spain

Last updated
The modern classical guitar and its baroque predecessor were invented in Spain Classical Guitar two views.jpg
The modern classical guitar and its baroque predecessor were invented in Spain

The music of Spain has a long history. It has played an important role in the development of Western music, and has greatly influenced Latin American music. Spanish music is often associated with traditional styles such as flamenco and classical guitar. While these forms of music are common, there are many different traditional musical and dance styles across the regions. For example, music from the north-west regions is heavily reliant on bagpipes, the jota is widespread in the centre and north of the country, and flamenco originated in the south. Spanish music played a notable part in the early developments of western classical music, from the 15th through the early 17th century. The breadth of musical innovation can be seen in composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria, styles like the zarzuela of Spanish opera, the ballet of Manuel de Falla, and the classical guitar music of Francisco Tárrega. Nowadays commercial pop music dominates.

Flamenco genre of Spanish music; UNESCO intangible cultural heritage

Flamenco, in its strictest sense, is a professionalized art-form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia. In a wider sense, the term refers to a variety of Spanish musical styles developed as early as the 19th century. The oldest record of flamenco dates to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso. Flamenco has been influenced by and associated with the Romani people in Spain; however, its origin and style are uniquely Andalusian.

Classical guitar acoustic wooden guitar with wide neck, strings made of nylon

The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the acoustic and electric guitars which use metal strings. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid nineteenth century.

Bagpipes Musical instrument

Bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Scottish Great Highland bagpipes are the best known in the Anglophone world; however, bagpipes have been played for a millennium or more throughout large parts of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, including Anatolia, the Caucasus, and around the Persian Gulf. The term bagpipe is equally correct in the singular or plural, though pipers usually refer to the bagpipes as "the pipes", "a set of pipes" or "a stand of pipes".


Origins of the music of Spain

Cantigas de Santa maria, medieval Spain Cantiga flute.jpg
Cantigas de Santa maría, medieval Spain

The Iberian peninsula has had a history of receiving different musical influences from around the Mediterranean Sea and across Europe. In the two centuries before the Christian era, Roman rule brought with it the music and ideas of Ancient Greece; early Christians, who had their own differing versions of church music arrived during the height of the Roman Empire; the Visigoths, a Romanized Germanic people, who took control of the peninsula following the fall of the Roman Empire; the Moors and Jews in the Middle Ages. Hence, there have been more than two thousand years of internal and external influences and developments that have produced a large number of unique musical traditions.

Mediterranean Sea Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean between Europe, Africa and Asia

The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Ancient Rome History of Rome from the 8th-century BC to the 5th-century

In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed. The Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants ) and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117.


Early history

Isidore of Seville wrote about the local music in the 6th century. His influences were predominantly Greek, and yet he was an original thinker, and recorded some of the first details about the early music of the Christian church. He perhaps is most famous in musical history for declaring that it was not possible to notate sounds, an assertion which revealed his ignorance of the notational system of ancient Greece, suggesting that this knowledge had been lost with the fall of the Roman Empire in the west.[ citation needed ]

Isidore of Seville bishop, confessor and doctor of the Catholic Church

Saint Isidore of Seville, a scholar and, for over three decades, Archbishop of Seville. He is widely regarded, in the oft-quoted words of the 19th-century historian Montalembert, as "the last scholar of the ancient world."

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a sovereign state located in Southern and Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Codex Las Huelgas, a medieval Spanish music manuscript, circa 1300 AD. Codex Las Huelgas.gif
Codex Las Huelgas, a medieval Spanish music manuscript, circa 1300 AD.

The Moors of Al-Andalus were usually relatively tolerant of Christianity and Judaism, especially during the first three centuries of their long presence in the Iberian peninsula, during which Christian and Jewish music continued to flourish. Music notation was developed in Spain as early as the 8th century (the so-called Visigothic neumes) to notate the chant and other sacred music of the Christian church, but this obscure notation has not yet been deciphered by scholars, and exists only in small fragments.[ citation needed ] The music of the early medieval Christian church in Spain is known, misleadingly, as the "Mozarabic Chant", which developed in isolation prior to the Islamic invasion and was not subject to the Papacy's enforcement of the Gregorian chant as the standard around the time of Charlemagne, by which time the Muslim armies had conquered most of the Iberian peninsula. As the Christian reconquista progressed, these chants were almost entirely replaced by the Gregorian standard, once Rome had regained control of the Iberian churches. The style of Spanish popular songs of the time is presumed to have been heavily influenced by the music of the Moors, especially in the south, but as much of the country still spoke various Latin dialects while under Moorish rule (known today as the Mozarabic) earlier musical folk styles from the pre-Islamic period continued in the countryside where most of the population lived, in the same way as the Mozarabic Chant continued to flourish in the churches. In the royal Christian courts of the reconquistors, music like the Cantigas de Santa Maria, also reflected Moorish influences. Other important medieval sources include the Codex Calixtinus collection from Santiago de Compostela and the Codex Las Huelgas from Burgos. The so-called Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (red book) is an important devotional collection from the 14th century.[ citation needed ]

Moors Medieval Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta

The term "Moors" refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers. The name was later also applied to Arabs.

Al-Andalus in historiography, the territories of the Iberian Peninsula under moorish rule between 711 and 1492

Al-Andalus, also known as Muslim Spain, Muslim Iberia, or Islamic Iberia, was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain that in its early period included most of Iberia, today's Portugal and Spain. At its greatest geographical extent, it occupied the northwest of the Iberian peninsula and a part of present-day southern France, Septimania, and for nearly a century extended its control from Fraxinet over the Alpine passes which connect Italy with the remainder of Western Europe. The name more generally describes the parts of the peninsula governed by Muslims at various times between 711 and 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly as the Christian Reconquista progressed, eventually shrinking to the south around modern-day Andalusia and then to the Emirate of Granada.

Jewish music is the music and melodies of the Jewish people. There exist both traditions of religious music, as sung at the synagogue and domestic prayers, and of secular music, such as klezmer. While some elements of Jewish music may originate in biblical times, differences of rhythm and sound can be found among later Jewish communities that have been musically influenced by location. In the nineteenth century, religious reform led to composition of ecclesiastic music in the styles of classical music. At the same period, academics began to treat the topic in the light of ethnomusicology. Edward Seroussi has written, "What is known as 'Jewish music' today is thus the result of complex historical processes". A number of modern Jewish composers have been aware of and influenced by the different traditions of Jewish music.

Renaissance and Baroque periods

In the early Renaissance, Mateo Flecha el Viejo and the Castilian dramatist Juan del Encina ranked among the main composers in the post-Ars Nova period. Renaissance song books included the Cancionero de Palacio, the Cancionero de Medinaceli, the Cancionero de Upsala (kept in Carolina Rediviva library), the Cancionero de la Colombina, and the later Cancionero de la Sablonara. The organist Antonio de Cabezón stands out for his keyboard compositions and mastery.

Renaissance music musical period between the 15th and 17th centuries

Renaissance music is vocal and instrumental music written and performed in Europe during the Renaissance era. Consensus among music historians has been to start the era around 1400, with the end of the medieval era, and to close it around 1600, with the beginning of the Baroque period, therefore commencing the musical Renaissance about a hundred years after the beginning of the Renaissance as it is understood in other disciplines. As in the other arts, the music of the period was significantly influenced by the developments which define the Early Modern period: the rise of humanistic thought; the recovery of the literary and artistic heritage of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome; increased innovation and discovery; the growth of commercial enterprises; the rise of a bourgeois class; and the Protestant Reformation. From this changing society emerged a common, unifying musical language, in particular, the polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish school, whose greatest master was Josquin des Prez.

Mateo Flecha (1481–1553) was a Catalan composer born in Kingdom of Aragon, in the region of Prades. He is sometimes known as "El Viejo" to distinguish him from his nephew, Mateo Flecha "El Joven", also a composer of madrigals. "El Viejo" is best known for his ensaladas, published in Prague in 1581 by the same nephew.

Juan del Encina Spanish composer, poet, and playwright

Juan del Encina – was a composer, poet, and playwright, often called the founder, along with Gil Vicente, of Spanish drama. His birth name was Juan de Fermoselle. He spelled his name Enzina, but this is not a significant difference; it is two spellings of the same sound, in a time when "correct spelling" as we know it barely existed.

An early 16th-century polyphonic vocal style developed in Spain was closely related to that of the Franco-Flemish composers. Merging of these styles occurred during the period when the Holy Roman Empire and the Burgundy were part of the dominions under Charles I (king of Spain from 1516 to 1556), since composers from the North of Europe visited Spain, and native Spaniards traveled within the empire, which extended to the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. Music composed for the vihuela by Luis de Milán, Alonso Mudarra and Luis de Narváez was one of the main achievements of the period. The Aragonese Gaspar Sanz authored the first learning method for guitar. Spanish composers of the Renaissance included Francisco Guerrero, Cristóbal de Morales, and Tomás Luis de Victoria (late Renaissance period), all of whom spent a significant portion of their careers in Rome. The latter was said to have reached a level of polyphonic perfection and expressive intensity equal or even superior to Palestrina and Lassus [ citation needed ]. Most Spanish composers returned home from travels abroad late in their careers to spread their musical knowledge in their native land, or in the late 16th century to serve at the Court of Philip II.

Polyphony music with multiple, independent melody lines performed simultaneously

In music, polyphony is one type of musical texture, where a texture is, generally speaking, the way that melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic aspects of a musical composition are combined to shape the overall sound and quality of the work. In particular, polyphony consists of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, which is called homophony.

The designation Franco-Flemish School, also called Netherlandish School, Burgundian School, Low Countries School, Flemish School, Dutch School, or Northern School, refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition originating from the Burgundian Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries as well as to the composers who wrote it. The spread of their technique, especially after the revolutionary development of printing, produced the first true international style since the unification of Gregorian chant in the 9th century. Franco-Flemish composers mainly wrote sacred music, primarily masses, motets, and hymns.

Holy Roman Empire Complex of territories in Europe from 962 to 1806

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

18th to 20th centuries

Front cover of book: Escuela Musica segun la practica moderna published in 1723-1724 Escuela de Musica segun la practica moderna.jpg
Front cover of book: Escuela Música según la práctica moderna published in 1723-1724

By the end of the 17th century the "classical" musical culture of Spain was in decline, and was to remain that way until the 19th century. Classicism in Spain, when it arrived, was inspired by Italian models, as in the works of Antonio Soler. Some outstanding Italian composers such as Domenico Scarlatti and Luigi Boccherini were appointed to the Madrid royal court. The short-lived Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga is credited as the main beginner of Romantic sinfonism in Spain. [ citation needed ]

Although symphonic music was never too important in Spain, chamber, solo instrumental (mainly guitar and piano) vocal and opera (both traditional opera, and the Spanish version of the singspiel) music was written by local composers. Zarzuela, a native form of opera that includes spoken dialogue, is a secular musical genre which developed in the mid-17th century, flourishing most importantly in the century after 1850. Francisco Asenjo Barbieri was a key figure in the development of the romantic zarzuela; whilst later composers such as Ruperto Chapí, Federico Chueca and Tomás Bretón brought the genre to its late 19th-century apogee. Leading 20th-century zarzuela composers included Pablo Sorozábal and Federico Moreno Torroba.

Fernando Sor, Dionisio Aguado, Francisco Tárrega and Miguel Llobet are known as composers of guitar music. Fine literature for violin was created by Pablo Sarasate and Jesús de Monasterio.

Musical creativity mainly moved into areas of popular music until the nationalist revival of the late Romantic era. Spanish composers of this period included Felipe Pedrell, Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Turina, Manuel de Falla, Jesús Guridi, Ernesto Halffter, Federico Mompou, Salvador Bacarisse, and Joaquín Rodrigo.

Music by region

The regions of Spain have distinctive musical traditions. There is also a movement of singer-songwriters with politically-active lyrics, paralleling similar developments in Latin America and Portugal. The singer and composer Eliseo Parra (b 1949) has recorded traditional folk music from the Basque country and Castile as well as his own compositions inspired from the musical styles of Spain and abroad.


Flamenco dancing in Seville. FlamencoSevilla.jpg
Flamenco dancing in Seville.

Though Andalusia is best known for flamenco music, there is also a tradition of gaita rociera (tabor pipe) music in western Andalusia and a distinct violin and plucked-string type of band music known as panda de verdiales in Málaga.

Panda de Verdiales in Malaga. Pandaverdiales.jpg
Panda de Verdiales in Málaga.

Sevillanas is related to flamenco and most flamenco performers have at least one classic sevillana in their repertoire. The style originated as a medieval Castilian dance, called the seguidilla, which was adopted with a flamenco style in the 19th century. Today, this lively couples' dance is popular in most parts of Spain, though the dance is often associated with the city of Seville's famous Easter feria.

The region has also produced singer-songwriters like Javier Ruibal and Carlos Cano  [ es ], who revived a traditional music called copla . Catalan Kiko Veneno and Joaquín Sabina are popular performers in a distinctly Spanish-style rock music, while Sephardic musicians like Aurora Moreno, Luís Delgado and Rosa Zaragoza keep Andalusian Sephardic music alive.


Aragonese jota dancing Jota aragonesa.jpg
Aragonese jota dancing

Jota, popular across Spain, might have its historical roots in the southern part of Aragon. Jota instruments include the castanets, guitar, bandurria, tambourines and sometimes the flute. The guitarro, a unique kind of small guitar also seen in Murcia, seems Aragonese in origin. Besides its music for stick-dances and dulzaina (shawm), Aragon has its own gaita de boto (bagpipes) and chiflo (tabor pipe). As in the Basque country, Aragonese chiflo can be played along to a chicotén string-drum (psaltery) rhythm.

Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia

An Asturian gaitera (bagpipe player) Al son de la gaita.jpg
An Asturian gaitera (bagpipe player)

Northwest Spain (Asturias, Galicia and Cantabria) is home to a distinct musical tradition extending back into the Middle Ages. The signature instrument of the region is the gaita (bagpipe). The gaita is often accompanied by a snare drum, called the tamboril, and is played in processional marches. Other instruments include the requinta, a kind of fife, as well as harps, fiddles, rebec and zanfona (hurdy-gurdy). The music itself runs the gamut from uptempo muiñeiras to stately marches. As in the Basque Country, Cantabrian music also features intricate arch and stick dances but the tabor pipe does not play as an important role as it does in Basque music. Traditionally, Galician music included a type of chanting song known as alalas. Alalas may include instrumental interludes, and were believed to have a very long history, based on legends.

There are local festivals of which Ortigueira's Festival del Mundo Celta is especially important. Drum and bagpipe couples range among the most beloved kinds of Galician music, that also includes popular bands like Milladoiro. Pandereteiras are traditional groups of women that play tambourines and sing. The bagpipe virtuosos Carlos Núñez and Susana Seivane are especially popular performers.

Asturias is also home to popular musicians such as José Ángel Hevia (bagpiper) and the group Llan de Cubel. Circular dances using a 6/8 tambourine rhythm are a hallmark of this area. Vocal asturianadas show melismatic ornamentations similar to those of other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. There are many festivals, such as "Folixa na Primavera" (April, in Mieres), "Intercelticu d'Avilés" (Interceltic festival of Avilés, in July), as well as many "Celtic nights" in Asturias.

Balearic Islands

In the Balearic Islands, Xeremiers or colla de xeremiers are a traditional ensemble that consists of flabiol (a five-hole tabor pipe) and xeremias (bagpipes). Majorca's Maria del Mar Bonet was one of the most influential artists of nova canço, known for her political and social lyrics. Tomeu Penya, Biel Majoral, Cerebros Exprimidos and Joan Bibiloni are also popular.

Basque Country

Ezpatadantza of the Basque Country. Basque dancers 01.jpg
Ezpatadantza of the Basque Country.

The most popular kind of Basque music is named after the dance trikitixa, which is based on the accordion and tambourine. Popular performers are Joseba Tapia and Kepa Junkera. Highly appreciated folk instruments are the txistu (a tabor pipe similar to Occitanian galoubet recorder), alboka (a double clarinet played in circular-breathing technique, similar to other Mediterranean instruments like launeddas) and txalaparta (a huge xylophone, similar to the Romanian toacă and played by two performers in a fascinating game-performance). As in many parts of the Iberian peninsula, there are ritual dances with sticks, swords and arches made from vegetation. Other popular dances are the fandango, jota and 5/8 zortziko.

Basques on both sides of the Spanish-French border have been known for their singing since the Middle Ages, and a surge of Basque nationalism at the end of the 19th century led to the establishment of large Basque-language choirs that helped preserve their language and songs. Even during the persecution of the Francisco Franco era (1939–1975), when the Basque language was outlawed, traditional songs and dances were defiantly preserved in secret, and they continue to thrive despite the popularity of commercially marketed pop music.

Canary Islands

In the Canary Islands, Isa, a local kind of Jota, is now popular, and Latin American musical (Cuban) influences are quite widespread, especially with the charango (a kind of guitar). Timple, a local instrument which resembles ukulele / cavaquinho, is commonly seen in plucked-string bands. A popular set on El Hierro island consists of drums and wooden fifes (pito herreño). The tabor pipe is customary in some ritual dances on the island of Tenerife.

Castile, Madrid and León

Children in Castilian folk costume in Soria, Castile. Sanjuansoria.jpg
Children in Castilian folk costume in Soria, Castile.

A large inland region, Castile, Madrid and Leon were Celtiberian country before its annexation and cultural latinization by the Roman Empire but it is extremely doubtful that anything from the musical traditions of the Celtic era have survived. Ever since, the area has been a musical melting pot; including Roman, Visigothic, Jewish, Moorish, Italian, French and Roma influences, but the longstanding influences from the surrounding regions and Portugal continue to play an important role. Areas within Castile and León generally tend to have more musical affinity with neighboring regions than with more distant parts of the region. This has given the region diverse musical traditions.

Jota is popular, but is uniquely slow in Castile and León, unlike its more energetic Aragonese version. Instrumentation also varies much from the one in Aragon. Northern León, that shares a language relationship with a region in northern Portugal and the Spanish regions of Asturias and Galicia, also shares their musical influences. Here, the gaita (bagpipe) and tabor pipe playing traditions are prominent. In most of Castile, there is a strong tradition of dance music for dulzaina (shawm) and rondalla groups. Popular rhythms include 5/8 charrada and circle dances, jota and habas verdes. As in many other parts of the Iberian peninsula, ritual dances include paloteos (stick dances). Salamanca is known as the home of tuna, a serenade played with guitars and tambourines, mostly by students dressed in medieval clothing. Madrid is known for its chotis music, a local variation to the 19th-century schottische dance. Flamenco, although not considered native, is popular among some urbanites but is mainly confined to Madrid.


Though Catalonia is best known for sardana music played by a cobla, there are other traditional styles of dance music like ball de bastons (stick-dances), galops, ball de gitanes. Music is at the forefront in cercaviles and celebrations similar to Patum in Berga. Flabiol (a five-hole tabor pipe), gralla or dolçaina (a shawm) and sac de gemecs (a local bagpipe) are traditional folk instruments that make part of some coblas.

Catalan gipsies created their own style of rumba called rumba catalana which is a popular style that's similar to flamenco, but not technically part of the flamenco canon. The rumba catalana originated in Barcelona when the rumba and other Afro-Cuban styles arrived from Cuba in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Catalan performers adapted them to the flamenco format and made it their own. Though often dismissed by aficionados as "fake" flamenco, rumba catalana remains wildly popular to this day.

The havaneres singers remain popular. Nowadays, young people cultivate Rock Català popular music, as some years ago the Nova Cançó was relevant.


Having long been the poorest part of Spain, Extremadura is a largely rural region known for the Portuguese influence on its music. As in the northern regions of Spain, there is a rich repertoire for tabor pipe music. The zambomba friction-drum (similar to Portuguese sarronca or Brazilian cuica) is played by pulling on a rope which is inside the drum. It is found throughout Spain. The jota is common, here played with triangles, castanets, guitars, tambourines, accordions and zambombas.


Murcia is a region in the south-east of Spain which, historically, experienced considerable Moorish colonisation, is similar in many respects to its neighbour, Andalusia. The guitar-accompanied cante jondo Flamenco style is especially associated with Murcia as are rondallas , plucked-string bands. Christian songs, such as the Auroras, are traditionally sung a cappella, sometimes accompanied by the sound of church bells, and cuadrillas are festive songs primarily played during holidays, like Christmas.

Ioaldunak dancers of Navarre. Ioaldunak 001.jpg
Ioaldunak dancers of Navarre.

Navarre and La Rioja are small northern regions with diverse cultural elements. Northern Navarre is Basque in language, while the Southern section shares more Aragonese features. The jota is also known in both Navarre and La Rioja. Both regions have rich dance and dulzaina (shawm) traditions. Txistu (tabor pipe) and dulzaina ensembles are very popular in the public celebrations of Navarre.


Traditional music from Valencia is characteristically Mediterranean in origin. Valencia also has its local kind of Jota. Moreover, Valencia has a high reputation for musical innovation, and performing brass bands called bandes are common, with one appearing in almost every town. Dolçaina (shawm) is widely found. Valencia also shares some traditional dances with other Iberian areas, like for instance, the ball de bastons (stick-dances). The group Al Tall is also well-known, experimenting with the Berber band Muluk El Hwa, and revitalizing traditional Valencian music, following the Riproposta Italian musical movement.

Julio Iglesias Julio Iglesias09.jpg
Julio Iglesias

Although Spanish pop music is currently flourishing, the industry suffered for many years under Francisco Franco's regime (1939-1975), with few outlets for Spanish performers. Regardless, American and British music, especially rock and roll, had a profound impact on Spanish audiences and musicians. The Benidorm International Song Festival, founded in 1959 in Benidorm, became an early venue where musicians could perform contemporary music for Spanish audiences. Inspired by the Italian San Remo Music Festival, this festival was followed by a wave of similar music festivals in places like Barcelona, Majorca and the Canary Islands. Many of the Spanish pop stars of the era rose to fame through these music festivals. An injured Real Madrid football player-turned-singer, for example, became the world-famous Julio Iglesias.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, tourism boomed, bringing yet more musical styles from the rest of the continent and abroad. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that Spain's burgeoning pop music industry took off with a cultural movement known as La Movida Madrileña . Once derivative of Anglo-American musical trends, contemporary Spanish pop began developing its own original music, encompassing all contemporary popular genres, from electronica and Euro disco, to homegrown blues, rock, punk, ska, reggae, hip-hop and others. Artists like Enrique Iglesias and Alejandro Sanz have become successful internationally, selling millions of albums worldwide and winning major music awards such as the Grammy Award. As Spanish is commonly spoken in Spain and most of Latin America, music from both regions have been able to crossover with each other. [1] According to the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), Spain is the largest Latino music market in the world. [2] As a result, the Latin music industry encompasses Spanish-language music from Spain. [3] [4] The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the organization responsible for the Latin Grammy Awards, includes music from Spain including a category for Best Flamenco Album with voting members living in the country. [5] [6] Spanish singer Julio Iglesias holds the world record for being the best-selling Male Latin Artist of all time. [7]


From the English pop-refrain words "yeah-yeah", ye-yé was a French-coined term which Spanish language appropriated to refer to uptempo, "spirit lifting" pop music. It mainly consisted of fusions of American rock from the early 1960s (such as twist) and British beat music. Concha Velasco, a singer and film star, launched the scene with her 1965 single "La Chica Ye-Yé", though there had been earlier popular singles by female singers like Karina (1963). The earliest Spanish pop was an imitation of French pop, which at the time was itself an imitation of American and British pop and rock. Flamenco rhythms, such as in Rosalía's  [ es ] 1965 single "Flamenco", sometimes made Spanish pop distinctive.


In the field of classical music, Spain has produced a number of noted singers and performers. In Spain there are over forty professional orchestras, including the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona, Orquesta Nacional de España and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid. Major opera houses include the Teatro Real, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Arriaga and the El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

Related Research Articles

Galician gaita traditional bagpipe of Galicia

The Galician gaita is the traditional instrument of Galicia and northern Portugal.

Shawm double reed woodwind instrument

The shawm is a conical bore, double-reed woodwind instrument made in Europe from the 12th century to the present day. It achieved its peak of popularity during the medieval and Renaissance periods, after which it was gradually eclipsed by the oboe family of descendant instruments in classical music. It is likely to have come to Western Europe from the Eastern Mediterranean around the time of the Crusades. Double-reed instruments similar to the shawm were long present in Southern Europe and the East, for instance the Ancient Greek, and later Byzantine, aulos, the Persian sorna, and the Armenian duduk.

The traditional music of Galicia and Asturias, located along Spain's north-west Atlantic coast, are highly distinctive folk styles that have some similarities with the neighbouring area of Cantabria. The music is characterized by the use of bagpipes.

Basque music

Basque music refers to the music made in the Basque Country, reflecting traits related to its society/tradition, and devised by people from that territory. While traditionally more closely associated to rural based and Basque language music, the growing diversification of its production during the last decades has tipped the scale in favour of a broad definition.

The music of Aragon has through history absorbed Roman, Celtic, Moorish and French influences, much like its culture. Traditional instruments used in the region include bagpipes, drums, flutes, tambourines, rattles and, perhaps most distinctively, the guitarro and bandurria.

Extremadura is a region in Spain near Portugal. Its folk music can be characterized by a melancholy sound, and Portuguese influences, as well as the predominance of the zambomba drum, which is played by pulling on a rope which is inside the drum. There is also a rich repertoire of gaita music. Popular songs include: de ronda; de bodas; de quintos; de Nochebuena. Jota is also common, here played with triangles, castanets, guitars, tambourines, accordions and zambombas.

The music of the Canary Islands reflects its cultural heritage. The islands used to be inhabited by the Guanches which are related to Berbers; they mixed with Spaniards, who live on the islands now. A variant of Jota is popular, as is Latin music, which has left its mark in the form of the timple guitar. There has been a strong connection with Cuban music, Venezuelan, Puerto Rican, and other Caribbean countries both through commerce and migration.

Central Spain includes the cultural melting pot of Madrid and Castile. A down-tempo version of jota is common, as well as other dances as fandango, habas verdes, 5/8 charrada. Bagpipes are still used in northern León and Zamora provinces. Tabor pipe and dulzaina (shawm) enjoy rich repertoires. The city of Madrid is known for keeping its own version of chotis music. Salamanca is home to tuna, a form of serenade played on guitar, bandurria and tambourine, traditionally by students in medieval clothing.

Music of Catalonia

The music of Catalonia comprises one of the oldest documented musical traditions in Europe. In tandem with the rest of Western Europe, it has a long musical tradition, incorporating a number of different styles and genres over the past two thousand years..

The Music of Andalusia encompasses a range of traditional musical genres which originate in the territory of Andalusia in southern Spain. The most famous are copla and flamenco, the latter being sometimes used as a portmanteau term for various regional musical traditions within Andalusia. Andalusia has a rich and thriving musical scene which draws from its own musical traditions as well as from external influences such as salsa and blues rock music.

Fandango Musical form and a music genre typical of Spain and parts of Latin America

Fandango is a lively couples dance from Spain, usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars, castanets, or hand-clapping. Fandango can both be sung and danced. Sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones". Sung fandango usually follows the structure of "cante" that consist of four or five octosyllabic verses (coplas) or musical phrases (tercios). Occasionally, the first copla is repeated.

Vallenato Colombian music genre

Vallenato, along with cumbia, is a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in north-east Colombia. The name also applies to the people from the city where this genre originated: Valledupar. In 2006, vallenato and cumbia were added as a category in the Latin Grammy Awards. Colombia’s traditional vallenato music is Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, according to UNESCO.

Pipe (instrument) simple wooden flute

A pipe is a tubular wind instrument in general, or various specific wind instruments. The word is an onomatopoeia, and comes from the tone which can resemble that of a bird chirping.

Pipe and tabor

Pipe and tabor is a pair of instruments played by a single player, consisting of a three-hole pipe played with one hand, and a small drum played with the other. The tabor (drum) hangs on the performer's left arm or around the neck, leaving the hands free to beat the drum with a stick in the right hand and play the pipe with thumb and first two fingers of the left hand.

This page is a glossary of Colombian music.

Ball de bastons type of dance of sticks and tapes own of Catalonia

Ball de bastons is the name of a ritual weapon dance spread throughout Europe and the rest of the Iberian area but mostly in Catalonia. English and Welsh Morris dances are well-known relatives to these traditions. The origins of dance are difficult to reference; first recorded mention dates to 1150, in a banquet of Count Berenguer IV)

Jota (music) music genre

The jota is a genre of music and the associated dance known throughout Spain, most likely originating in Aragon. It varies by region, having a characteristic form in Aragon, Catalonia, Castile, Navarre, Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia, La Rioja, Murcia and Eastern Andalusia. Being a visual representation, the jota is danced and sung accompanied by castanets, and the interpreters tend to wear regional costumes. In Valencia, the jota was once danced during interment ceremonies.

Psalterium (instrument)

A psalterium, or tambourin à cordes, is a stringed musical instrument, the name of which is synonymous with the psaltery. In specific usage, this name denotes a form of long psaltery that is tuned to provide drone chords. Sometimes called a "string drum," though not to be confused with a friction drum also called a "string drum," it is usually used as rhythm accompaniment with a form of tabor pipe. It is also known as tambourin de Béarn or Tambourin de Gascogne in French, ttun-ttun[cunˈcun] in Basque, salmo in Spanish, and chicotén in Aragonese.

Three-hole pipe Specific type of pipe (instrument) that is played with one hand, together with a drum or bell

The three-hole pipe, also commonly known as tabor pipe, is a wind instrument designed to be played by one hand, leaving the other hand free to play a tabor drum, bell, psalterium or tambourin à cordes, bones, triangle or other percussive instrument.


  1. Llewellyn, Howell (26 June 1999). "The Billboard Interview: Teddy Bautista". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media. 111 (26): 60. ISSN   0006-2510 . Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  2. Llewellyn, Howell (November 11, 2000). "The Spanish Market Looks To Export Artists". Billboard. 112 (46): 78. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  3. Flores, Juan; Rosaldo, Renato (2009). A Companion to Latina/o Studies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 50. ISBN   9780470766026.
  4. Llewellyn, Howell (November 25, 1995). "ShowMarket To Focus On Development of Latin Music". Billboard. Nielsen Media. 107 (47): 72. ISSN   0006-2510 . Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  5. "Billboard Spotlights Spain & Portugal". Billboard . Nielsen N.V. 111 (47): 91. 20 November 1999. ISSN   0006-2510 . Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  6. Garza, Agustin (18 May 2002). "Latin Grammys Struggle With Loss of Momentum". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  7. "Julio Iglesias receives world record certificate in Beijing". Guinness World Record. 2 April 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.