Does the Duende get lost?
Recently someone responded to a post about Flamenco Explained by saying something like “but won’t the Duende get lost if you explain flamenco?” So I thought I’d write a response here that I could have ready for this purpose, because it’s not a bad question, really.
Duende is ineffable – it’s not something you can really put into words, and in a way you almost have to earn the definition, not to mention a shot at experiencing real Duende, by hanging out with flamenco in all its forms. But in short, Duende is a feeling you may experience when flamenco gets real – and I mean really real – and I’m almost certain it’s not the same for everyone.
I’m not here to try to teach you how to experience Duende, in much the same way that Flamenco Explained is not trying to explain Gypsy culture, Spanish culture or flamenco culture (nor do I believe there is a single version of any of these things). But I very much believe that you’re going to have a much better shot at experiencing or identifying Duende if you understand how flamenco works.
So yeah, I probably can’t teach you how to experience Duende. But I can help you understand how flamenco works. When you understand how flamenco works, it will help get you closer to appreciating and hopefully experiencing these magical moments that we get to experience a few times in our lives if we’re lucky.
Agree, learn the ropes before you climb. Garcia- Lorca comes as close as one can to put duende into words:”Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya, master of the greys, silvers and pinks of the finest English art, paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks, or strips Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer stark naked in the cold of the Pyrenees, or sends Jorge Manrique to wait for death in the wastes of Ocaña, or clothes Rimbaud’s delicate body in a saltimbanque’s costume, or gives the Comte de Lautréamont the eyes of a dead fish, at dawn, on the boulevard.”