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Flamenco Styles: The Palos

The diversity of flamenco styles is absolutely phenomenal. Every style is called palo and represents a different traditional flamenco variety. To give you an idea of how wide flamenco can be, there are more than 50 palos which, in turn, can have many variations!

Usually, palos have a regional origin within Andalucía, the area in which flamenco was born. It is said that flamenco was initially performed in cafés cantantes, mainly in Seville, Jerez and Cádiz. From there, flamenco art became so popular that it spread out to the rest of the region.

If you are interested in the history of flamenco and its origins, you should visit the Museo del Baile Flamenco while you are in Seville.

Why not attending an espectaculo flamenco? You can either go to a tablao, a bar flamenco or some other venue!


What Is A Palo Exactly?

In Spanish, palo has different meanings such as “pole”, “stick” or “bar”. But it also means “suit” (as the several categories in which a deck of cards is divided). Therefore, in this case, palo is a metaphor of “category”.

As a matter of fact a palo is defined by its basic rhythmic pattern (compás), its musical tonalities, its recurring figures (known as motif), and its lyrics. It covers both the musical and cultural aspect of a flamenco style.

When refering to cultural and musical context, it means that each one is characterized by

  • Its mood. This is the most important identity sign as flamenco music and songs are always related to a state of mind (sadness, joy, loneliness, melancholy, etc.).
  • The cultural traditions related to it. These traditions can by expressed through a dance style, or the lyrics meaning for instance.
  • Its relation to other palos.


Flamenco Show At Tablao Flamenco El Arenal In Seville

Founded in 1975, Tablao Flamenco El Arenal is renowned throughout Seville as the perfect place to see an authentic Andalusian flamenco show, thanks to the impressive reputation from its owner’s background – the locally famed bailor Curro Vélez. During the 2-hour performance, watch up to 15 of the city’s best bailores dance an intense flamenco, exuding their passion for this flamboyant form of art.

Choose between 3 different options for your evening of flamenco at Tablao El Arenal: show with a drink, show with tapas or show with a 3-course dinner. Head inside the premises, sit down next to the scenario and enjoy the performance!

Book Your Flamenco Show At Tablao Flamenco El Arenal In Seville »


Flamenco Styles Classification

As I mentioned in the introduction, flamenco can be expressed by singing, dancing and playing an instrument (guitar, cajón or by clapping hands). The cantaor (or cantaora) leads the performance and the rest of the cuadro will follow his (or her) inspiration. Bear in mind that flamenco is an emotional art form and relies on improvisation.

Because of its wide diversity, palos are not easily classified. Some experts order them according to the rhythm, others by geographical origin. There is no objective way to do it and classifications aren’t rigorous at all.

However, it is generally accepted that every palo fits into one of these flamenco styles

  • Cante Jondo. It’s the deepest and most serious palo, and it’s usually considered the origin of flamenco.
  • Cante Chico. It’s light, frivolous and conveys amusement and fun.
  • Cante Intermedio. Every palo that can’t be included into one of the previous categories belongs to the Cante Intermedio.

According to the experts, the most important palos are

  • Tona (derives from tonada, tune). It belongs to a category called cantes a palo seco, which are palos sung a cappella (no music involved).
  • Soleá. It’s one of simplest flamenco styles, accompanied by a guitar. The songs are solemn, painful and incredible sad.
  • Seguiriya (or siguiriya, derives from seguidilla, from the verb seguir, to follow). It’s one of the most important and deepest palos. The songs are generally dark and dramatic and the lyrics refer to suffering in human relationships, love and death.
  • Fandango is a popular dance, where a couple expresses its courtship. The dance is accompanied by guitars and castañuelas or hand clapping.

All of them are part of the Cante Jondo and they constitute the basic compas for almost the rest of the palos.


Seville Night Tour & Flamenco Show

Discover the best of Seville after dark and enjoy an electrifying flamenco show on this 4-hour evening tour. Traveling by air-conditioned coach, admire top Seville attractions such as the Plaza de España, the Torre del Oro, the Maestranza and other landmarks all aglitter in the darkness of evening.

To end a lovely night, experience a colorful and passionate flamenco show in one of Seville’s most acclaimed tablaos (flamenco bars). Some of the most famous bailaores and bailaoras started their career in Seville. You might discover a new shining star!

Book A Seville Night Tour & Flamenco Show »