The Speculative Theories of Manolo Sanlucar: The Greek Origins of Flamenco Music

By Manolo Sanlucar, Corey Whitehead and Javier Alcantara-Rojas.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Flamenco music (Cante Jondo) exhibits traits of a non-Ecclesiastical musical system that can be traced to its roots in the ancient Greek musical system.

In Spain, there exist at least two distinct musical cultures, Classical (Western-European or Ecclesiastic) and Flamenco music. Spain exhibits the unique history of being under Islamic and Christian rule–Spanish Islamic culture being one of the principle gateways to Hellenic contemplation after the middle ages.

Flamenco music, at its core, represents a non-Ecclesiastical system, containing trademark elements of Arab, Jewish, Hindi, Pakistani, Persian, and Romani cultures that have roots in ancient Greek music. Additional evidence supporting this theory is found in that Flamenco is documented to be in existence since before 1550 by the Flemish. If this documentation, and the vast documentation of the makeup of the musicians in the Spanish Courts (between 1250 and 1550, and their musical repertoire, such as the Cantigas de Santa Maria) exists before the Western European Tonal System was defined and disseminated, then it is not possible for the roots of Flamenco to be from The Roman Catholic Church. After all, 1) the Romans who occupied Córdoba did not build a church, but instead built pagan temples 2) the first church was built in this city by the Visigoths, who were conquered by the Moors who ruled from the 8th century to the late 13th century in Cordoba, and until 1492 in Granada. These views are coming to light due to the scholastic endeavors of Manolo Sanlúcar. The ramifications of this research are wide within the field of Ecclesiastical music theory, history, and performance. The Greek Musical System was misinterpreted by the Ecclesiastes, giving rise to Tonality. For example: Tonality (ascending resolution) does not represent Flamenco, the Greek system does, and descends to the final tone as in flamenco.

Keywords: Flamenco, Greek Music, Theory

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.7-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 863.858KB).

Manolo Sanlucar

Visiting Professor of Music in Flamenco Guitar, Continuing and Global Education, International Programs, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, California, USA

Composer and concert guitarist, Manolo Sanlúcar was born in the picturesque town of Sanlúcar de Barremeda in Cadíz, Andalucía, on the 21st of November, 1943. Seven years later, encouraged by his father Isidro Muñoz, he entered the world of the flamenco guitar. The scope of his artistic nature is borne out by just a few examples: 1) In 1987 for The Spanish National Ballet he wrote Medea. 2) In 1988, Tauromagia, a landmark in flamenco music, is the author’s greatest work according to many, demonstrating his maturity as a composer and a musician 3) In 1991, he won the “Compás del Cante” as flamenco’s best new talent by a jury of the most specialist representatives in the genre. And in 1994, he was nominated Best Flamenco Guitarist by a popular vote in the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine. And now, Manolo Sanlúcar is heralded also, as its leading pedagogue, and professor for his work at the Córdoba Guitar Festival where he annually offers his course to professionals and aspiring artists called “La forma y naturaleza de la guitarra flamenca”, and at The California State University, in Fresno, where he is a Visiting Professor of Music in Flamenco Guitar and Resident Scholar.

Dr. Corey Whitehead

Assistant Professor of Music, Department of Music, College of Arts and Humanities, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, California, USA

Corey Whitehead, D.M.A., is the only flamenco guitarist in the world chosen twice by the legendary Manolo Sanlúcar to receive “La Beca del Curso, La forma y naturaleza de la guitarra flamenca” and is the only guitarist from the United States ever chosen for this scholarship. This “Beca” was sponsored by La Agencia Andaluza para Desarollo del Flamenco de Junta de Andalucia. Corey received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from the University of Arizona in May, 2002. Since then he has studied extensively with the legendary Córdoba-born flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, and with the legendary Manolo Sanlúcar, and with luminaries such as Manolo Franco, José Antonio Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Romero, and Paco Serrano. Corey was appointed in May, 2006 as Juan Serrano’s replacement in the area of Guitar Performance, at California State University, Fresno after an international search. Corey and Javier Alcantara-Rojas have recently made the English translation of “Sobre la guitarra flamenca: Teoría y sistema” by Manolo Sanlúcar for The Ayuntamiento de Córdoba and the F.P.M. Gran Teatro.

Javier Alcantara-Rojas

Alumni, Department of Music, College of Arts and Humanities, California State University, Fresno, Victorville, California, USA

Javier Alcantara-Rojas is a nationally recognized teacher of flamenco and classical guitar. His work with Dr. Corey Whitehead was selected by the American String Teachers Association for a lecture at the 2008 National Conference. He is published (rosewood review, 2007;, 2010) and an active researcher in the speculative theories of Greek and flamenco harmony on fretted chordophones, as interpreted by Manolo Sanlúcar. His recent work was selected to represent Fresno State at the CSU Research Competition at CSU Los Angles in May, 2009. His community outreach work was mentioned in the AP press release for the Presidential Award for General Community Service given to Fresno State in 2009. He is a three time participant of CSU Summer Arts (06, 07 (in Florence, Italy), 08), two time participant in the Córdoba Guitar Festival (06, 07), and one time participant of Curso Flamenco en Sanlúcar de Barrameda (07). His teachers have included: Dr. Thomas Miller (Theory), Richard Sumner, Dr. Corey Whitehead, Manolo Sanlúcar, Gerardo Nunez, Juan Serrano, Manolo Franco, Paco Serrano, Jose Antonio-Rodriguez, and has participated in master classes with Juan Martin, Ricardo Marlow, Flavio Cucci, Celine and Angel Romero, Julian Byzantine, and many others. He holds an AA and AFA from Victor Valley College, and a BA in General Music Education from Fresno State. He is a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia National music fraternity.


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