Paper rescue | A new start for the castanets

Imagine, in the middle of a performance, the instrument that determines the passion, the fire, the drama and the rhythmic drive, that is an irreplaceable part of flamenco, breaks: the wooden castanets, whether made of grenadilla or ebony, rosewood, ivory, almond or chestnut wood, were fragile, highly sensitive to temperature and humidity variations, and time and again they broke, bringing artists to despair.


For Antonio el Bailarín, one of the most famous dancers of the 19th century, this was an untenable condition. He inspired the Castañuelas del Sur castanet manufactory in Seville to come up with an innovation that was to be groundbreaking. And paper was the salvation! Pressed into solid layers and processed with varnish, the manufactory developed castanets that were durable, no longer broke, and also brought new timbres into play. A new era began for el Bailarín and his colleagues. The “Fibra” castanets saved performances and the fire of flamenco.

To this day, “fibra” castanets are coveted and have their permanent place alongside fiberglass and tela castanets, which are made from pressed Spanish cotton. Even wood has its place on the concert podiums again, because glued in fine layers, wooden castanets remain just as stable and insensitive to humidity and temperature fluctuations as the variants made of the other materials.

Soft, warm sound, rather quiet or hard, loud and penetrating: the range of timbres and volume is wide and artists today can choose the castanets that best accompany their performance, whether in a concert hall or open-air. And so spectacular performances and shows are possible, fireworks of passion, virtuosic, thrilling, but also melancholic and dramatic.


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EDITION 3 - 2022

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