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Two takes on the sounds of flamenco

Two takes on the sounds of flamenco
16th December 2015 Cities and Memory
Flamenco at Museo del Baile Flamenco.

Today we have two different takes on a sound so distinctive and valuable that it’s listed by UNESCO as an item of intangible cultural heritage – Spanish flamenco.

On our trip to Seville, we took in both ends of the flamenco scale – both the polished, flamboyant displays put on for tourists at the Museo del Baile Flamenco (flamenco museum), and the much more everyday performances at La Carboneria, a backroom bar tucked away in an alley in the city.

Though the sounds in the recording from La Carboneria are fabulous, they tell only part of the story – the passion on the performers’ faces can be imagined, but was as mesmerising as the music.

Jose Sonosfera has shone a sonic spotlight onto the sheer pace and rhythmic complexity of flamenco’s handclaps and dance movements, creating a feasible-sounding but wild version of real flamenco steps in his version.

La Carboneria – city version:

Memory version:

Colin Ventura reimagined our recording from the flamenco museum, describing his approach like this:

“I started by making an edit of the recording, reshaping and rearranging it.

“Since this is the ‘memory’ version of this recording, I was thinking about how our memories play tricks on us, how what we remember isn’t always how things were, that as time continues to pass, memories can degrade.

“I allowed the piece to slow as being played on a machine that was running out of power, the memory fading.

“Then, perhaps, something reminds of that time in Seville, and the music flows again before, inevitably, declining once more.”

Museo del Baile Flamenco – city version:

Memory version: