Flamenco Dictionary (for aficionados)

Here is a list of words that are used in flamenco, help understand a flamenco show and stay on top of a flamenco conversation. This flamenco glossary is put together especially for flamenco aficionados but dancers will also find it helpful.

A palo seco - a capella, song without accompaniment

Aficionado - lover, fan, enthusiast of flamenco, who often is also a non-professional flamenco performer

Bailaor/-a - flamenco dancer; bailaor (male), bailaora (female)

Baile - flamenco dance

Cante - flamenco song 

Cante jondo - means literally deep song. It's a term introduced by Federico García Lorca and Manuel De Falla to depict "pure gypsy singing" from the other "impure flamenco signing" based only on their opinion on the subject

Cante p' alante -  flamenco song performed without a dancer. A singer is the main protagonist of such performance

Cante p' atras -  flamenco song performed for a dancer. A dancer is the main protagonist of such performance. The same song can be performed p' alante o p' atras and it will vary greatly in it's structure 

Cantaor/-a - flamenco singer; cantaor (male), cantaora (female)

Castañuelas or palillos - castanets

Compás flamenco - rhythm or accent pattern specific to each palo group

Cuadro flamenco - flamenco band, that traditionally consists of at least dancer, singer and guitarist 

Duende - literally means a ghost, a term created by Federico García Lorca, often refers to something magical and indefinable, compared to a moment of catharsis. Usually used in relation to a feeling you experience when you watch a flamenco show

Jaleo - enthusiastic shouts of artists and audience to encourage performers such as Ole! Vamo a ver! Eso es!, etc 

Letra - in this context, from Spanish stanza. Refers more to melodies than actual lyrics.

Palmas - palms. Characteristic clapping performed by a dancer, singer or palmero (person dedicated to clapping). Reserved for performers only, an important way of marking the rhythm. Audience should not clap along 

Palos - musical genres of flamenco that are distinguished by their rhythm patterns, moods, and the melodies of their songs. Example: alegrias, tangos, tarantos, etc

Peña flamenca - an association bringing together flamenco aficionados, also a gathering place and a performance venue 

Tablao - in Spain, a place where you can see a flamenco performance. Over time tablaos became flamenco centers with shows especially geared towards tourists

Tocaor - flamenco guitarist

Toque  - flamenco guitar play. Cante, baile & toque are three traditional pillars of flamenco


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