Flamenco styles. The “palos” flamencos
Flamenco is probably more complex than anyone thinks. There is a huge diversity in flamenco styles and those styles are referred to as “palos”. Palos are the different styles of singing in flamenco, and there are meant to be even more than 50 palos!
Let´s start by saying that all palos have a fixed structure, one that should be followed to be considered as such, and a variable part. Flamenco is very much about improvisation and that implies in any flamenco palo there is a flexible part that provides that room to improvise.
Probably the most famous palos are the following 7 ones. We will also provide a short description of each of them.
Alegría means happiness in Spanish. This palo is a joyful style, light, and cheerful. Alegria is a very popular flamenco style. Its origins are interesting. It appeared in the region of Cadiz at the time the French invaded Spain. People from the region of Aragon in northern Spain went south. Aragon is famous for a musical style known as jota and Alegrías seem to be an evolution from the jota into a flamenco style. Alegrias are very similar to Soleas, though Alegrias have a much faster rhythm.
Bulerias originated in Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz. They share also the same structure with Soleas but their pace is frenetic. This is party time!
This flamenco style may make you think of Portuguese Fado. There are regional variations. The most famous fandangos are from Huelva (the neighboring province to southern Portugal) and from Malaga.
This palo is all about emotion, deep feelings, and sadness. This style resembles the Canto jondo.
Probably today´s most famous flamenco style. Sevillana is what many people have in mind when they think about Flamenco. In this flamenco style, dancers act in couples. Sevillana became very popular in Spain, and many schools provided courses. Sevillana is the typical dance you expect to find at La feria de Abril in Sevilla
The name probably derives from the word “soledad”, loneliness in English. This palo or flamenco style is about sadness. It is close to Cante jondo and is one of the most popular flamenco styles.