The Roots Of Spanish & Flamenco Guitar Music
Spanish guitar music is mostly thought of in connection with Spain and therefore words "flamenco guitar", "Paco Pena" and "Paco de Lucia" instantly comes to mind. It's fiery passion and mysterious harmonic structure (V7b9 chord anyone?) is famous throughout all the world. We must remember however that Spanish music has also had a tremendous influence over all Latin America too. Indeed the music throughout the entire continent is dominated by guitar coupled with often complex Spanish rhythms.
Flamenco is really Andalusian and from the south of Spain, it's just that its influence has spread like wildfire throughout the world and gives the impression that all Spanish guitar music is represented by the flamenco guitar style. It is not. You'll find that Spain is actually very diverse in its musical traditions. The north of the country for example uses bagpipes (much like Scotland) in its traditional song. In fact all the traditional styles from Catalonia, Valencia, León and so forth are different. To think of Spanish guitar music as only being flamenco (even in Spain) is to do the rest of the country an injustice.
Leaving Spain behind you'll find that there is a tremendous amount of great Latin American guitar music on offer especially from countries such as Mexico and Argentina. Both have been strongly influenced by Spain in their histories and the guitar holds a dominant position in the regional music of both. The music of Mexico in particular has evolved strongly around the guitar as its centerpiece and has now established a beautifully long and deep tradition of Spanish song as its own art form. The rhythms can be very simple from 3/4 time to complex arrangements but the lyrical quality of the music always remains intact.
Romantics are sure to love the music of the Spanish guitar and may even be inspired enough to want to take Spanish guitar lessons. Firmly rooted in the minor key it isn't a sad sound but rather a deeply lyrical and romantic one. It's poignant. While some pop songs do incorporate the sound of Spanish guitar into their modern arrangements such as Tony Braxton or Sting, the old fashioned recordings of years gone by, together with those from movie sound tracks, still remain the best.