Flamenco´s Styles
Language Resources

Flamenco´s Musical Styles (Palos)

To correctly understand what is meant by the term “palos del flamenco”, we must first remember that this Spanish folk music is made up of 4 basic elements: singing, dancing, guitar playing (toque) and palos. The so-called “cantaores” are responsible for the singing. Taking into account all of the above, “palos” are flamenco´s different, existing musical styles.

There are approximately fifty officially recognized flamenco styles. Nevertheless no one established system exists to classify and split each one into one group or another. However, the traditional divisions distinguish between basic flamenco styles, fandangos (a lively Spanish couples dance) and its offshoots and, thirdly, all the flamenco styles which stem from regional or American influences.

The origins of the different flamenco styles

Generally speaking the first and most well-known flamenco style was fandango which has kept its designation as one of the main flamenco styles in Spain. This style evolved thanks to the inclusion of an instrument, the bandola(mandolin), whose regular beat contributed to the addition of dancing to sung fandangos therefore creating new styles of flamenco.
Some of the following flamenco styles appeared as a result of this combination of traditional sung fandangos with the mandolin and dancing:

  • chacarrá
  • granaína
  • jabegotes
  • jaberas
  • malagueñas
  • rondeñas
  • taranta
  • taranto
  • verdiales
  • zánganos

Other flamenco styles were born as a result of changes made to Spanish ballads, which explains the origins of the polo, caña, tonás and corrido. But it was the addition of the guitar to these variations which caused the emergence ofnew increasingly rhythmic styles adapted to a more eye-catching form of flamenco dancing, such as the upbeat bulerías and jaleos (both popular forms of song originating from Andalusia) or the more intimate tango and tiento styles.

The geographical zones where flamenco styles originated

Flamenco styles have fairly limited geographical origins. Cádiz and Malaga are the main Andalusian cities where they originated, although the practice of flamenco dancing spread throughout Andalusia.

The tarantas(mining songs), mineras and cartagenasflamenco styles spread almost completely within their native region of Levante and its outskirts  which are largely made up of the autonomous community of Murcia.

Finally, the flamenco styles which developed in the Americas owe their origins to the influences of Spanish immigrants whose stylebrought about the evolution of popular Latin-American music, which in turn gave rise to several flamenco forms with the rumba, colombiana and guajira being among the most noteworthy.