Tanguillos, tientos and flamenco tango

 In Flamenco styles

Establishing the origin of the styles of flamenco is not an easy job, since they come from a mixture of cultures and customs that normally give rise to derivations, such as tanguillos, tientos and flamenco tango.

The flamenco tango is considered to be one of the oldest styles of flamenco, along with the soleá, also called the “mother of flamenco”. The rhythmic pattern of the tango (or habanera), comes, according to some experts, from the contradictions (or contredanse, a musical style that was danced in France in the 18th century) that were brought to America by the slaves of Santiago de Cuba.

From there, it spread throughout Europe, and arrived in Cádiz as an American tango, establishing itself as one of the central numbers of the zarzuelas. The rhythms began to vary and the first variations of the flamenco tango that we know today emerged: if it was softer, a romantic song, it was called “habanera”, while if it was a more jocular version it was called tiento.

One of the oldest tangos is the “Tango de la limoná”, whose lyrics go like this: “You are not , you are not , you are not chicha, nor limoná“.

However, this type of tango was not yet considered to be a flamenco tango, so it is framed in a “preflamenco” style. In fact, the tangos that began to be heard in Cádiz during the 18th century are called tanguillos, whose musical structure was defined by the choirs and carnival groups.

The flamenco tanguillo of Cádiz

In 1944, the tanguillo acquired its own prominence, and the term was even used to differentiate it from the flamenco tango on records. And as it happens in other styles of flamenco palos, the tanguillo has different melodic variations and we can listen to different songs depending on the one used, although always keeping the rhythmic cadence. What does make the difference between the tanguillo and other flamenco styles is the joy that they give off (which is why they became very popular among the most carnival-loving people).

As well as having their own personality almost as a flamenco form, tanguillos have served as inspiration for other flamenco songs, as is the case of the tribute that was paid to the flamenco singer Fernanda de Utrera.

It began to be successful among flamenco guitar players, as has been the case of Paco de Lucía, with “Casilda” and “Romancero de la Luna” (this last title was shared with Tomatito and Camarón), and Camarón, with “Pata Negra”.

The flamenco guitarrist Paco de Lucía playing Casilda, a tanguillo from Cádiz.

The variation of this tanguillo from Cádiz with a “more flamenco” mode, slowing down the rhythm, would give rise to the well-known tientos, played by Manolo Vargas, Antonio Mairena, Manolo Caracol, El Lebrijano and Carmen Linares, among many other flamenco artists.

Tientos: the first flamenco tangos

Enrique El Mellizo was one of the first flamenco artists to give tango the touch it needed to be “flamenco tango”. The tientos are a derivation of the tanguillos from Cádiz, although with a more solemn, deeper and more jondo air.

In fact, Antonio Pozo, known as “El Mochuelo” recorded on wax cylinders (as phonograph cylinders were known) the ‘tangos de los tientos’, which were nothing more than slow carnival tanguillos from Cádiz.

The great evolutionary leap towards flamenco tango was made by Antonio Chacón, starting with the tiento of Enrique El Mellizo, whose cante, which follows in the wake of the soleares and seguiriyas, is structured as follows: preparatory sing, brave sing and a closing or change sing.

This style of tientos, already flamenco tangos, made La Niña de los Peines and Manuel Torre very popular, with which they became very well known in Seville.

The flamenco tango

The binary rhythmic structure of the American tango is the basis for other styles of flamenco and elements, such as farruca, zapateado, garrotín, rumba, milonga and, finally, the flamenco tango.

The materialization of the flamenco tango was done by adapting elements of the well-known Andalusian jaleos, of ternary compass, to the compass of the American tango.

flamenco instruments

The styles of flamenco are the result of the evolution of flamenco. Each one represents a feeling, a form and a life that, although they are related, make them unique. In order to enjoy the flamenco tango and other dances, the best thing to do is to see a live show.

Come to Cuna del Flamenco, a flamenco tablao in Seville. Book your ticket online!

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