The poet Manuel Machado, the brother of the also poet Antonio Machado, when reviewing the eight Andalusian capitals defined Malaga as cantaora (flamenco singer). Flamenco has been very present in this city, which is home to one of the best flamenco singers in history, Juan Breva, after whom the main peña flamenca (flamenco club) in Málaga is named.
Juan Breva© La Opinión de Málaga
The origin of flamenco, although hazy, seems to be born from the hodgepodge of Andalusian villages from the so-called cantes andaluces at some point in the 18th century. The coexistence of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Castilians and Gypsies has resulted in this mestizo artistic phenomenon, declared by Unesco as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Nor is the origin of the name clear, since while some associate it with the welcoming dances of Carlos V, the emperor born in Flanders, for the Andalusian politician and scholar Blas Infante it would come from the Arabic term ‘fellah min gueird ard’, which referred to the moors without land (Moors are Muslims converted forcibly to Christianity), many of whom were integrated among the gypsies.
Flamenco is played (guitar), sung and danced and the different official varieties are called palos, some of which were born in Malaga as is the case of la malagueña.
At first there was neither dance nor musical accompaniment, it was only singing. In fact, there are still some palos that are played without a guitar melody, known as a palo seco songs, in which the voice is the only support. The dance element and guitar did not appear until the nineteenth century.