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Celtic influences in Spanish music

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by fenderx55, Dec 6, 2005.

  1. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    I need to prepare a project on "the confluence of cultures on the Iberian Peninsula" for my honors program and after some preliminary searching, figured that celtic and maybe gipsy influences in spanish music. However, all the books on spanish folk music in my library are actually in spanish... there isn't much help on the internet that i've been able to find. Anyone have any knowledge in this kinda stuff? Ethnomusicology grads? no? too much to ask? lol


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    I remember hearing a long way back that the Celts had made their way to Spain.
  3. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    yeah, I just need sources not in spanish lol
  4. It might be worth taking the texts to Spanish students (if you know any - if you're doing Honours in a music program then you're bound to know at least five), or to a professional translator/interpreter. Those texts would probably also have a different viewpoint and opinion on the musical style you're studying than texts written in English.

    There's a lot of stuff on Flamenco that I'm sure you would have covered already, but it may be worth going through it again from a different perspective. I did that with my studies on the Alhambra - I studied both the Muslim and the Catholic interpretations of the Alhambra, and got a more balanced view and understanding of the place.

    Just a thought.
  5. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    originally i was going to do that... It's not music honors, it's honors for General Studies (stupid NYU) and I figured Celtic music hasn't been done to death (the moorish influences are kind obvious you know?). Either way, my mentor for this thing is actually a native speaker, but i really doubt he's gonna wanna translate an entire text for me :meh: thanks for the suggestion though.
  6. Tomorrow night is my Spanish Linguistics class. The prof is from Leon and has a Masters in Performance Guitar from a conservatory in Spain prior to his PhD in Linguistics from UCLA. I'll ask him, but I'm afraid if he has any sources they will all be in Spanish. All of my links on Spanish history and culture are likewise in Spanish. BTW, don't rule out Portugal and Fado as an interesting style. However, all the resources that I am aware of for Fado and other Portuguese music are in Portuguese and you probably don't speak / read that either.

    I am somewhat of a Spanish history buff from the Carthagenian period up to about 1600, then I lose interest. I can tell you that when the Carthagenians and Romans arrived most of the tribes in central and southern Spain were Celtic. IIRC, it took about 20 or 30 years for the Romans to eliminate the Carthagenians, but about 200 years to finally conquer the Celts and neither they nor anyone else has ever been successful with the Basques. (Old Basque saying:"When God wanted to create human beings, he started with bones from a Basque cemetary.") It was Basques who destroyed Charlamagne's rear guard, not the Moors as indicated in the Song of Roland. You don't want to piss off the Basques. The mixture of Roman and Celtic people formed a cultural core for the Empire with several important Emperors, writers and teachers being born and educated in Iberia. The people melded with the Romans very well and there were no significant non-Roman areas of cultural resistance other than the previously mentioned Basques.

    In any case the Vandals, Suevi (same tribe as those in Swabia in Central Germany today) arrived around 450AD +/- and what was left of the Roman Empire recruited the Visigoths to kick them out. The Vandals left for North Africa and the Suevi retreated to what is now Galicia in the northwest corner of the penninsula. The Visigoths,being true Germans, tried to maintain racial purity, but very slowly mixed with the Hispano-Romanic people until 711AD when, in a fit of pique, one of the disappointed aspirants to the Visigothic throne (don Julian) invited North Africans (Moors), who had recently been converted to Islam, to cross the straits of Gibraltar and fight for him. The Moors defeated the Visigoths led by King don Rodrigo at the Battle of Guadalete and overran the penninsula for themselves. The reconquest by the Christians took 800 years and that was the crucible in which the modern Spanish nation and character were formed.

    Notice that the Celts disappeared as a culture about 2,000 years ago. Other than the cultural remnant of a few bagpipes in some northern parts of Spain, nothing remains that I know of. Basically the Moors hammered the various Christian rebels so hard against the Atlantic and Bay of Biscay that their Goth / Hispano Roman curltural differences pretty much disappeared.

    I think the really interesting cultural influences for Spain are the interplay of Islamic Moors, Christian Goth / Hispano-Romans and Jews between 711 and 1492. For instance the Caliph of Cordoba Al Hakam II, who indisputably had the most culturally significant kingdom west of China between 500AD and 1500AD, had red hair and blue eyes. Does that suggest a little "race-mixing" among these competing cultures? In any case, if I were looking at the roots music of Spain I would chose Muslim and Jewish influence in modern music. The earliest remnants of "Spanish" poetry are some fragments of love songs called "Jarchas" which are from the Moorish occupied areas and appear to be Jewish in origin, written in Arabic script and the language is an early Latin/Spanish variant known as "Romance".

    My second choice would be gypsy influence and I would spend some time looking at gypsy influence on Federico Garcia Lorca, the early 20th Century Andalusian poet/playwright and his collegues. There might be some remnant of Celtic musical culture, but I suspect it will be very difficult to get sources.

    That is probably more than you wanted to know, but maybe some of that will provide you with some ideas or leads that will be useful.
  7. Just in case I didn't write enough off the top of my head, I found a link through Google for "Jarchas" in English. http://www4.gvsu.edu/wrightd/Honors 216/Origenjarchas.htm
    This should give you a feel for the style. I think they are really cool, but the vast majority of resources are in Spanish. The Google search shows 823 hits for English only and 22,000 hits with no language restriction. I can guarantee you that at least 20,000 of those hits are in Spanish.

    BTW, while the Celts at one time extended from Central Europe to Spain and south into what is Greece and Turkey today, the Celtic cultural core pretty much dissolved in the Roman Empire in all areas. The remnants were in the northern and western British Isles which never came under Roman rule: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and the smaller islands. Even the Celtic Bretons were post Roman migrants from Cornwall to Brittany. Celts are cool, but I don't think you will find much respected scholarship for curltural remnants outside of the areas I just mentioned.
  8. I just thought of a great link for articles in English on Iberian history and culture. http://libro.uca.edu/ "LIBRO" stands for "Library of Iberian Resources Online" and it has lots of scholarly articles and out of print books available, all or almost all in English. It is sponsored by the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain. Good Luck.
  9. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    thank you sooooooo much. I haven't been finding stuff on celtic stuff and you've explained why. I knew about the moorish appearance in 711, but I felt like that was too obvious, and I wanted to connect the gipsy kings, who are french, to this. Now that I have a direction, I'm probably going up to the Hispanic Society of America museum on 157th street that has one of the largest libraries for this kind of thing. And now I know what I should be looking for.

    I would just like to say, that everyday that I've been coming to TalkBass, I've been saying "goddamn i love this messageboard." :hyper:
  10. Heh, it's all good.

    And well done Aaron, that's pretty awesome for off the top of your head, huh? :D
  11. Glad I could help some, but I need to set something straight. Everywhere I wrote Ostrogoth, substitute Visigoth. Ostrogoth = Eastern Goth and Visigoth = Western Goth. When I start writing about Spanish culture and history in English, I sometimes make stupid mistakes. Sorry about that. (Note: I edited the earlier post and fixed the problem.)

    Regarding gypsy influence and French gypsy connections I have some historical thoughts. The primary gypsy area of Spain is Andalusia in the southwest. The primary gypsy area of France is in the south in the Provence area. In between is the Spanish region of Catalonia (Barcelona). This region has historically been more closely related to southwestern France than to Spain. The language, Catalan, is very similar to Provencal which was the language of the troubadours. You might find a movement of gypsies from southern France through Catalonia into Andalusia.

    Another possible help in your research is that the word for gypsy in Spanish is "gitano", in French it is "gitane" and in most countries to the east of France it is some variant of "cigan" or "cigani". Sorry I don't know what it is in Catalan or Provencal, but it is probably some close variant of the other three.

    Good luck. Let me know how you do.
  12. Aaron, you history buff, you!!! :hyper:

    You're a man after my own heart!!! :cool:

    Great, informative posts! ;)

  13. Ok, here is what Luis told me. There is a tradition in Galicia (NW Iberia) and Asturias (Central North coast of Iberia) that Ireland was initially settled by Celtic tribes from that area. He says that there is a similar tradition in some Irish folklore. Despite playing bass, I am not good with drum type rhythms, but he demonstrated a traditional drumming pattern on the desk with his hands and I immediately recognized it as the sort that Irish folk musicians play on the hand drum, whatever they call it. He said that what he was demonstrating was a traditional rhythm pattern from Galicia and Asturias. When I asked him about print or online resources he said that it would take him a while to find them and that they would be in Spanish, Gallego or Babel (the Asturian dialect). He said that the bagpipes and that rhythmic pattern were the primary connections that he was aware of immediately. But I could tell that the question intrigued him.

    So you may have a very interesting topic for a doctoral dissertation in ethno-musicology, but I'll bet it would be a bear to tackle on an undergrad level and probably would require extensive field research in both locations. Good luck
  14. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005

    holy crap, thanks.