Duende: A Flamenco Rush

duen·de (do͞oˈendā)
noun: duende

  1. a quality of passion and inspiration.
    • a spirit

Have you ever had a rush of feelings/emotions when you hear a certain song? Goosebumps, the chills, it might make you smile, you might get choked up, or even cry? A deep exhale as you clinch your hands? That musical piece tapped into something deep within you.

What is that feeling? Where does it come from?

It’s magical, isn’t it?

Duende. It’s a heighten state of emotion. It’s an authentic feeling that comes from within.  The human condition of joys and sorrows. It’s the struggle.

All forms of art is capable of duende but for me, none is more abundant, as strong, or deeper than a Flamenco duende.

It’s an inexplicable sadness and eerie happiness that comes together from your feet and out your chest.

To quote Australian music artist Nick Cave at a lecture in Vienna in 1999 discussing the nature of duende within love songs… he said it best.

“…it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.”

“All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather hate songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.”

It seems that today’s music is more about being popular and less about true feelings. Probably because today’s music isn’t genuine anymore. It’s manufactured, plastic, and processed. All-you-can-eat. Disposable.

Flamenco is all about reaching within your heart and letting it pour out. You can see it in dancer’s passion, hear it in the guitarist’s music, the struggle of the singer’s voice. As their performance guest, you get an opportunity to feel duende, too.

In my performances, and sometimes practicing, I get that duende feeling sometimes.

When you get your first duende, you’ll know it. The rush is amazing. After I had mine, I never went back to any other style of music.

Flamenco: the art of duende.

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