In 2006, I traveled to Spain for a special event which seems unrelated to the subject of Flamenco, but in a number of ways was important to me as it concerned the music of Domenico Scarlatti. This event was under the auspices of FIMTE the International festival of Spanish Keyboard Music. ( Festival Internacional de Música de Tecla Española )
I have written extensively about my involvement in the Sonatas he wrote as the significant influence of flamenco music and dance made an enormous impression on Scarlatti while he lived in Spain during the last twenty-five years of his life. The more than a dozen works I presented in dance form was augmented by my additional study of the music itself on piano and later on the harpsichord. As I have written previously, I performed these dances I made over a period from 1970 to 2005 in various concert appearances.
As a musician, Scarlatti, could not help be drawn to the richness and variety of the rhythmic complexities of Flamenco in all its manifestations and his compositions reveal this in many ways.
I have found examples of many Spanish forms in his music and was able to make dances from this material because the sonatas I chose for them uncannily matched the flavor of the original dance forms. Dances such as those from Aragon, Castile, Galicia, as well as rhythmic sections reflecting the essence of flamenco such as Tientos, a very old flamenco form, and in one case the melodic strain of “el Vito “are very evident in Scarlatti’s musical works. This particular Sonata is K. 119 in D Major. Not the least is an outstanding example of his interpretation of the famous “Bolero” out of the history of Escuela Bolera material. This Sonata is listed in various catalogs.
With this in mind, I attended the Symposium which concentrated on the subject of Scarlatti’s impressionistic music, his methods of construction, and his inspiration from Spain. The event held in Mojácar, on the Andalusian south coast near Almeria featured a week of lectures, concerts and discussions. I took a friend with me to facilitate the trip which was a little more than one week.
While there I did broach the subject of one of my theories about a particular sonata which contained a passage very reminiscent of El Vito. It was of course not a copy of the melody but had a similar lilt and texture in triple time. When I spoke with one of the participants about this, she was amazed about my discovery in one of the Sonatas. She was familiar with the song and dance “el Vito”.
It was a fascinating experience. Musicians of that specialty from all over the world attended and it terminated with a grand dinner on the premises of a hotel in the town. We had excellent accommodations in a small family run hotel in the town of Mojácar. The actual center for Fimte is located in Almeria, but all the workshops, concerts, and discussions were held in this tiny community.
The trip over from Los Angeles was a flight to London and then another flight on Iberia Airways to Madrid where we finally took a small plane to Almeria. From there we traveled in a taxi to Mojácar as there was no transportation available to take us there. A real adventure!
There had been a delay in our flight from London to Madrid as the plane was late and we missed the first concert. We did arrive soon enough to attend a short harpsichord concert and a cocktail party reception for the guests.
During the discussions I had another conversation with one of the guests about the idea I had which related to the Tientos, a very old flamenco rhythm I detected in Sonata K. 545 in B major. This was in Alla Breve time. He thought I should submit a paper about this finding. Subsequently I did send in my proposal at a later date. The response was that the subject was “very interesting” but apparently they had a large amount of submissions and were unable to consider it at the time.