Malagueñas Verdiales Málaga Flamenco: an analysis of flamenco forms in malaga province
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Malagueñas Verdiales Málaga Flamenco

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Malagueñas, Verdiales, Málaga Flamenco: a short analysis of flamenco forms in Malaga province

flamenco song


folklore or flamenco?





There are broadly two general categories of song-forms that co-exist in Andalusia today: the popular or traditional called folklore, and the cante flamenco - flamenco song. Folklore refers to the songs of the masses not requiring special skills as such, but acquired through custom and repetition in the culture. The cante flamenco on the other hand is not easily performed by anyone, so does require a degree of skill in its execution. Although there is an overlapping of folklore into flamenco, the latter is consequently reserved for those with more artistic aspiration and study or at the very least a natural predisposition.


Malagueñas belongs to the group of cante called fandango





The Malagueñas stem from the old fandangos malagueños, with a copla of four or five verses of eight syllables, which may convert into six verses, due to the repetition of the first or third. Frequently it will finish with a fandango abandolao. Some sources indicate it converted into a flamenco style in the first half of the XIX century.

The main creators of the Malagueñas as a flamenco form are individual singers who come from both Malaga and Cadiz provinces (though this is not exclusive.) The most well known are Enrique El Mellizo and Antonio Chacón, but others include La Trini, El Pena, La Peñaranda, Baldomero Pacheco, El Personita and Gayarrito.


the songs of Málaga












Discussion of the Malagueñas usually centres around the song forms, but the guitar does have a specific form of accompaniment, similar to the Fandangos chordal progressions in E/F... The guitarist will know this as playing por arriba. The guitarist also imitates the structure of the natural fandango in its rhythm and tonal sequences, except that at the end he will close the phrase by running the thumb over the fourth, third, second and first strings in Mi (E major). This cues in the singer.

The Malagueñas is also a dance, but belongs to the folklore category rather than flamenco. It seems there is no separate palo in flamenco dance for either Malagueñas or Verdiales, though both are well accepted nowadays as flamenco song and guitar forms.

verdiales dancers





These songs were probably inspired by outcasts in the countryside, as a result of the proliferation of banditry in the mountain ranges of Ronda and Córdoba where the abandolaos style is typical.

Again the guitarist plays what he knows as a Malagueña but executed to the rhythmic theme of the fandango, played por arriba.







Though derived from Ronda, it is not known if its name comes from the city of Ronda or from a ir a rondar.

The general rule in the song is a copla of four, eight syllable verses, that convert into five due to the repetition of the second. It is a very old style of fandango abandolao with a very marked melody, that is used on many occasions to finish the Malagueña. A distinction can be made between grande and chica, since the two styles do not mix, although they follow the same metric structure.



5 verses of octosyllables with simple, light themes.









The Verdiales are essentially a primitive Malagueña fandango form. The Verdial is a variety of olive from the Malaga region.

Some sources indicate the verdiales songs are morisco in nature since they had the same melodies as Arab songs accompanied by the lute.

Today a variety of instruments can be used for Verdiales, while flamenco stays with the guitar and handclapping. A musical group calls itself a Panda de Verdiales, which can consist of guitars, platillos, violin, chindrines, panderos, almireces, canutos de caña, ladrarros, ardrarras.

The Verdiales dance forms may consist of an individual man, a couple, or three together. The solo male dancer often swings the national flag known as bailar la bandera. The three-way dance (2 women and 1 man) is called the baile de tresillo (by custom known as baile del zangano where the man must always face the women, but the women twist around in front of him. There is even evidence of a mixture of paganism and Christianity in the Verdiales.

The guitarist strums an accompaniment to the singer with an incessant rasgueo, as in the primitive fandangos, without pause, but maintaining a steady speed in 3/4 time.


El cante malagueño







El cante malagueño has been influential in flamenco. One of the first important flamencologos is the malagueño is Sarafín Estèbanez Calderón (1799-1867) who examined the state of andalusian song and dance in his work Escenas Andaluz of 1847. The legendary singer El Planeta also spent much of his life in Malaga.

Malaga has in fact maintained an impeccable flamenco tradition from pre-flamenco through cafés cantantes up to today. Now guitarists create their own solo virtuoso guitar compositions on Malagueñas.

The Malaga café cantante period was fertile: Café del Turco, Café Nunitas, Café de las Siete Revueltas, Café de la Loba, Café de España, el Café Sin Techo ( see "Cafés de Malaga y Otras Establemientos" by F. Bejarano Robles, 1989).


Juan Breva



The singer Juan Breva from Malaga gave his special stamp to the Fandango de Verdial and the Abandolao that flamencos will recognize them as the songs of Juan Breva.


other forms



Songs pertaining to the brightly coloured small boats - Cantes de los Marengos can be calssified as one of the older cantes abandolaos.


Verdiales Festival









Around 28th December each year the province of Málaga holds its traditional Verdiales Festival, which in 1997 attracted a record crowd of sixty thousand to the tiny village of Puerto de la Torre, just outside Málaga. The large turnout may have been due to the good weather and the fact that it fell on a Sunday! However there are many "aficionados" of this form of local mountain flamenco (though it is not strictly flamenco rather a part of folklore.)

Twenty-five Verdiales groups took part in this unusual gathering of musicians and singers with guitars, violins and brightly coloured hats and ribbons.

verdiales in  malaga

Los pinares de Torremolinos acogaren el dia 21 de marzo 1999 la tradicional fiesta de los verdiales (y pandas de la provincia de Málaga)  con la que se queria perpetuar la cultura autóctona y ofrecer un buen espectáculo.

Content "Malagueñas Verdiales Málaga Flamenco" © Simon Zolan 2003 Sources: conversations with local people, a variety of publications.


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