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Tonás (Spanish pronunciation:  [toˈnas] ) is a palo or type of flamenco songs. It belongs to the wider category of Cantes a palo seco, palos that are sung a cappella. [1] Owing to this feature, they are considered by traditional flamencology to be the oldest surviving musical form of flamenco. The first known flamenco singer, Tío Luis el de la Juliana, who lived in Jerez de la Frontera in the last third of the 18th century, was said to have excelled in this palo. [2]

Other cantes a palo seco, such as martinetes and debla, are sometimes classified under tonás, [3] [4] while at other times they are referred to as palos on their own.

The tonás were almost in disuse by the end of the 19th century. The reason seems to be that they were considered a difficult style by the general public, and resulted in Tonás on the near verge of disappearing. [5]

During the 1950s the tonás came back into use, [5] with singers like Antonio Mairena, [6] and came to be considered as one of the main flamenco styles together with seguiriya and soleá. [6] [7]

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Flamenco Genre of Spanish music and dance

Flamenco, in its strictest sense, is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia and Murcia. In a wider sense, the term is used to refer to a variety of Spanish musical styles. The oldest record of flamenco music 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.

The term rumba may refer to a variety of unrelated music styles. Originally, "rumba" was used as a synonym for "party" in northern Cuba, and by the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles known as Cuban rumba. Since the early 20th century the term has been used in different countries to refer to distinct styles of music and dance, most of which are only tangentially related to the original Cuban rumba, if at all. The vague etymological origin of the term rumba, as well as its interchangeable use with guaracha in settings such as bufo theatre, is largely responsible for such worldwide polysemy of the term. In addition, "rumba" was the primary marketing term for Cuban music in North America, as well as West and Central Africa, during much of the 20th century, before the rise of mambo, pachanga and salsa.

Rumba flamenca, also known as flamenco rumba or simply rumba, is a palo (style) of flamenco music developed in Andalusia, Spain. It is known as one of the cantes de ida y vuelta, music which diverged in the new world, then returned to Spain in a new form. The genre originated in the 19th century in Andalusia, southern Spain, where Cuban music first reached the country.

Palo (flamenco) flamenco term used to group different traditional musical forms

A palo or cante is the name given in flamenco for the different traditional musical forms.

The Spanish term Cantes a palo seco refers to a category of flamenco palos traditionally sung a cappella or, in some cases, with some sort of percussion. The category comprises the following palos:

The cantiñas is a group of flamenco palos, originated in the area of Cádiz in Andalusia. They share the same compás or rhythmic pattern with the soleá and are usually sung in a lively rhythm. They are normally sung in a major mode and have a festive mood.

The Petenera is a flamenco palo in a 12-beat metre, with strong beats distributed as follows: [12][1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]. It is therefore identical with the 16th century Spanish dances zarabanda and the jácara.

Cartageneras are a flamenco palo belonging to the category of the cantes de las minas or cantes minero-levantinos. As the rest of the songs in this category, it derives from older folkloric fandango styles. The origin of this particular style is attributed to traditional fandango from the miner area of Cartagena in the province of Murcia, in southern Spain.

Martinetes are a flamenco palo belonging to the group of the tonás or cantes a palo seco. As the rest of the songs in this group, it is sung with no accompaniment. In some dance shows for the stage, though, it is accompanied by percussion played with the compás of siguiriya. The percussion instruments chosen for this are frequently a hammer and anvil, to evocate the origins of this palo, attributed to Gypsy smiths. It is not probable, though, that they were real work songs: they demand too much effort and faculties to be sung while carrying out a heavy task like that of a smith. They were more probably sung in family gatherings.

Cantes libres is a Spanish expression that literally means free songs. It is applied any flamenco palos in which there is no recognisable metre (music) or rhythmic pattern. The melody thus flows freely, unconstricted by metre, so singers can shorten or lengthen musical phrases at will, as long as they respect the basic melodic line of the style they are singing.

Polo is the name of a flamenco palo or musical form. There is only one known song in this palo, which is extremely similar to another palo called caña, and its guitar accompaniment, like the caña, shares its rhythm and motifs with soleá. Both the caña and polo share the same musical mode. The polo has usually been considered as a derivation of the caña. To complete the singing of the polo, singers usually sing a stanza in the palo of soleá, generally in the style called soleá apolá.

Antonio Cruz García, known as Antonio Mairena (1909–1983), was a Spanish musician, who tried to rescue a type of flamenco, which he considered to be pure or authentic. He rescued or recreated a high number of songs that had been almost lost, and also published several books and articles to divulge his views on flamenco and flamenco history. He considered himself as heir to the art of Manuel Torre, the most classic flamenco singer from Jerez, and also acknowledged the influence of other masters like Tomás Pavón or Joaquín el de la Paula.

La Niña de los Peines Spanish flamenco singer (cantaora)

Pastora Pavón Cruz, known as La Niña de los Peines, is considered the most important woman flamenco singer of the 20th century. She was a sister of singers Arturo Pavón and Tomás Pavón, also an important flamenco singer, and aunt to Arturo Pavón, the first flamenco pianist. Both brothers, Pastora and Tomás, together with singer Manuel Torre, were the inspiring models for the next generation of singers like Antonio Mairena, Pepe de la Matrona or Fosforito, who led the movement towards the revival of traditional forms in the decades of the 50s-70s.

Cantes de ida y vuelta is a Spanish expression literally meaning roundtrip songs. It refers to a group of flamenco musical forms or palos with diverse musical features, which "travelled back" from Latin America as styles that, having originated in the interplay between Spanish musical traditions and those of the African slaves and Native Americans, developed into renewed forms that were reintroduced in Spain. Usually they have a more mellow character than the more traditional flamenco songs.

José Tejada Marín, known as Pepe Marchena and also as Niño de Marchena in the first years of his career, was a Spanish flamenco singer who achieved great success in the ópera flamenca period (1922–1956). Influenced by singers like Antonio Chacón, he carried to the extreme the tendency to a more mellow and ornamented style of flamenco singing. Owing to his particular vocal conditions and singing style, he excelled mainly in palos (styles) like fandangos, cantes de ida y vuelta and cantes libres, contributing to making them the most popular flamenco styles in the era of the ópera flamenca, and created a new cante de ida y vuelta, the colombiana, later recorded by many other artists like El Lebrijano or Enrique Morente. He was also the first flamenco singer to use an orchestra to accompany flamenco singing, though later he returned to the guitar.

The cante flamenco, meaning "flamenco singing", is one of the three main components of flamenco, along with toque and baile (dance). Because the dancer is front and center in a flamenco performance, foreigners often assume the dance is the most important aspect of the art form - but in fact, it is the cante which is the heart and soul of the genre. A cante singer is a cantaor or cantaora.

This is a glossary of terms that relate to flamenco arts.

Saeta (flamenco) form of Spanish religious song

The saeta is a revered form of Spanish religious song, whose form and style has evolved over many centuries. Saetas evoke strong emotion and are sung most often during public processions.

Soleá Flamenco musical form and style

Soleares is one of the most basic forms or palos of Flamenco music, probably originated around Cádiz or Seville in Andalusia, the most southern region of Spain. It is usually accompanied by one guitar only, in phrygian mode "por arriba" ; "Bulerías por soleá" is usually played "por medio". Soleares is sometimes called "mother of palos" although it is not the oldest one and not even related to every other palo

Guajira (Flamenco) is a palo based on the Cuban Punto Guajira Cubana. It is in 12 beats and feels like it starts on 12. The guajira is a prime example of so-called cantes de ida y vuelta. The flamenco guajira is the adaptation to Melos flamenco of the Cuban point, the peasant point, a genre that brings together a series of songs called Guajiros that are grown in the rural areas of the island of Cuba. A guajira is simply a song for voice and guitar with a series of similar letras.


  1. Loren Chuse (2013). Cantaoras: Music, Gender and Identity in Flamenco Song. Routledge. p. 32. ISBN   9781135382049 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  2. Andrés Bernal Montesinos (2013). Origen y evolución del Flamenco. Lulu Press. p. 32. ISBN   9781291242447 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  3. An Analysis of Federico García Lorca's Poema Del Cante Jondo. University of California. 1971. p. 47. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  4. Ninotchka Bennahum (2000). Antonia Merce,́ "La Argentina": Flamenco and the Spanish Avant Garde. Wesleyan University Press. p. 117. ISBN   9780819563835 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  5. 1 2 D. E. Pohren (2005). The Art of Flamenco. Bold Strummer. p. 25. ISBN   9780933224025 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  6. 1 2 Emma Martinez (2011). Flamenco – All You Wanted to Know. Mel Bay Publications. p. 38. ISBN   9781609744700 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  7. Juan Serrano (2016). Flamenco Guitar Basic Techniques. Mel Bay Publications. p. 10. ISBN   9781610654302 . Retrieved 2020-01-27.