Category Archives: history

Spanish Music

Spanish MusicSpanish music is very rich in history and origin. It has a big role in the development of western music and has been influential on Latin American music. Spain is often associated with flamenco and classical guitar, especially by people who live outside of the country. However, Spanish music is in fact very diverse and it reflects the many differences among its regions and their traditional songs and dances.

Flamenco is a style from the south areas of the country while bagpipes are very popular in the north western regions. Spain played an important part in the beginnings of western classical music.

Origins of the Music of Spain

Spanish music has been influenced by areas around the Medditerrenean Sea including some European countries. Roman rule brought with it the music and ideas of the Ancient Greece before the Christian period began. The Visogoths, who were the early Christians of that time, followed their own versions of church music and took control of the peninsula when the Roman Empire fell. Simply put, there are about two thousand years of influences and developments that have affected the musical practices of the Spanish people.

Music by Region

Andalusia. Flamenco is the most popular type of music in this region. However, there are other music traditions that are practiced in Andalusia such as the gaita rociera (tabor pipe) and the panda de verdiales (violin and plucked-string type). The Sevillanas are usually related to flamenco which is why flamenco performers will always have at least one classic sevillana in their repertoire. Andalusia’s pride for songwriters and singers include Javier Ruibal, Carlos Cano, Aurora Moreno, Luis Delgado and many more.

Balearic Islands. Xeremiers or often called colla de xermiers is a traditional music in this region. It is characterized by the use of fabiol (five-hole tabor pipe) and xeremiers (bagpipe). Maria del Mar Bonet of Majorca is one of the most popular artists because of her political and social lyrics. Other well-known artists from this region are Tomeu Penya, Biel Majoral and Joan Bibiloni.

Catalonia. This region is most popular because of its sardana music that is characterized by the use of a cobla and other traditional styles of dance music. Music is a big part of any celebration and cercaviles in this area. People here are fond of using the flabiol, gralla, dolcaina, sac de gemecs and other traditional folklore instruments. The Catalans are also well-known for their creation of their own style of rumba which is referred to as rumba catalana.

Hispanic Literature

Spanish LiteratureWhen people talk about Spanish literature it means that they are tackling poetry, prose and drama that are written in the Spanish language. The development of Spanish literature coexists with other literary traditions from various areas in the same territory such as the Catalan literature and Galician literature.

During the early years, it has intersected with literary traditions of the Iberian peninsula including Latin, Jewish and Arabic. The literary tradition of Spanish America is an important part of Spanish literature in general. It has its own characteristic and form that dates back to the early years of Spanish conquest to the Americas.


The Spanish Renaissance started with the unification of Spain by the Catholic Monarchs and covered the reigning period of both Carlos I and Felipe II. The beginning of the Renaissance of Spain is said to have started in the year 1492. However, an exact date couldn’t be established due to multiple circumstances that took place.

The poetry during this period is classified into two different schools – Salmantine and Sevillian. The characteristics of Salmantine poetry include concise use of language, simply expressed ideas, realistic themes and short verses. The latter school, on the other hand, is characterized by extremely polished verses, focus on mediation rather than feelings, composed of long and complex verses, observation of nature and life and filled with adjectives and other rhetorical language.

Famous literary figures during this time include Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Boscan and Cristobal de Castillejo.


This literary period took place in the middle of the Golden Age where Spain was governed by Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV. There were many religious, political, internal and international problems that occurred during this period which determined the characteristics of Baroque literature. This period is characterized by pessimism, disappointment, escapism, satire, stoicism and many more.

The famous literary figures during this time are Miguel de Cervantes, Francisco de Quevedo and Baltasar Gracian.


This is one of the shortest yet intense literary periods in Spain. It arrived late and was thought of as a complex and confusing time because of the great contradictions that range from rebellion and revolutionary ideas. Some viewed the period as a mere restoration of the ideological, patriotic and religious values of the 18th century that was suppressed by the rationalists.

Characteristics of romanticism include rejection of Neoclassicism, subjectivism, flight from the world and attraction of the nocturnal and mysterious. Literary works during this time were written with a fury of emotions – the writers formed verses from what they felt or thought. Literary critics found the writers’ works as a lyricism of great power that are vulgar and misleading.

The History of Sangria – a Popular Spanish Drink

SangriaThe Hispanic community is known for a lot of things and one of these is their love for party where they serve sumptuous food and refreshing drinks. The most popular drink that Spanish people serve during big celebrations like the Cinco de Mayo is Sangria. Sangria began humbly in Spain and has grown to be a favorite party drink all over the world.

Sangria was first tasted in the United States in the year 1964 during a World’s Fair held in New York. The Spanish community at that time served this fruity wine punch to the guests and the rest was history. Sangria was created based on the traditional red wine punch that was very popular in Europe for a long time.

The base of the punch is claret – a British term for Bordeaux wine from France. This is traditionally made from a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot wherein later brandy and fruit is added to enhance the flavor. The red wine punch was always served at parties during the 1700’s and 1800’s.


Sangria is a popular beverage in Spain and Portugal. It is named after the Spanish and Portuguese term for ‘bloodletting’ because it is dark-red in color. This drink usually consists of wine, chopped fruit, sweetener and a little brandy.

Variations in Sangria Recipe

The alcoholic content of Sangria varies greatly due to the many alterations that people have done to its recipe. It usually ranges from 4 percent up to 11 percent, depending on the ingredients used. Some use chopped fruits like oranges, lemons, apple, lime, melon, berries and pineapple. Others also put in sweeteners including honey, sugar and syrup. While others still add brandy as their spirit of choice, some people opt for other liquids such as seltzer, sprite or 7 up.

Furthermore, some chill their Sangria for as little as a few minutes while others let it mature for days or months. Also, some have it undergo carbonation while others do not. Here are some of the further variations that people do to their Sangria recipe.

White wine. Some Hispanics make use of white wine instead of red to make their Sangria concoction and they call it sangria blanca. Spanish folks who mix white into this beverage would like to lighten up the drink especially if they are using a heavy type of red wine.

Mulled wine. This is usually added to the beverage for a rich full-bodied taste together with a chilled slice of pear and some orange juice.

Spanish Music

Spanish MusicThe Hispanics are known for their love of party, food and music. It is part of their culture to celebrate every little thing that comes their way. Their love for music is as colorful and lively as their festivities. Spanish music is definitely one thing that’s admirable about this ethnic group.

Traditional Music

The Celtic people relocated in the northwest part of Spain in 1000 B.C. As a part of their culture, they have established numerous musical traditions in the region. Some of the most popular are music that includes bagpipes or gaita as they call it, flutes, drums, harps and other musical instruments.

Meanwhile, along the northern part of Spain Basque music was well-loved. This type of music utilizes a lot of vocals such as choir singing. They also used unique musical instruments like the Txalaparta – this is an instrument made from wood and is played with sticks. They also used the Txistu – shepherd’s flute and Alboka – a horn-shaped clarinet. They are very fond of incorporating trumpets, drums and other musical instruments in their songs and music.

The northeastern part of the country, on the other hand, is fond of the ‘Jota’ style of music. This style is characterized by up-beat rhythms with repeating patterns and tonality. Being a fun and exciting type of music, there is no surprise that it spread all throughout Spain in no time. When it comes to instruments, they love using flutes, tambourines, castanets and many more. They combine these with vocals and create magical music. As this style is observed in many areas of the country, there were alterations made to it. Some incorporates a slower beat to the Jota style.

The Flamenco is very popular in the southern area of Spain, particularly in Andalusia. It became known  across the nation because of its exotic character. Alterations and changes were also made to it as it was adapted worldwide. The blend from the nomadic gypsies influence is one of the additions that stood out from the rest. The Moors also created an impressive alteration of the Flamenco with the use of a guitar-like instrument that they call ‘Al-Khitara’. The strings of the guitar are plucked one at a time at different intervals. Furthermore, they have added clapping, dancing and drum-beating to the music style.

Popular Modern Music Today

Even though traditional Spanish music has been altered in many ways these days, you can still see its great influence particularly in the growing popularity of Celtic music. Nowadays, various genres such as rock, hip-hop and rap have been incorporated into the traditional music style of the Hispanics. Some of the famous artists and bands that can speak and of course, sing Spanish include Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Roxette.

Eugenio Maria de Hostos

Eugenio Maria de HostosEugenio Maria de Hostos was a Puerto Rican teacher, lawyer, sociologist, intellectual and philosopher who contributed to the independence of the Hispanics. To show their gratitude to the independence advocate, they celebrate his birthday every Jan 10th of the year.

Independence Advocate

Eugenio Maria de Hostos joined the Cuban Revolutionary Committee in the United States. He then became the editor of the journal ‘La Revolucion’. He strongly believed in creating the Antillean Confederation among Puerto Rico, Cuba and Dominican Republic. His fellow Puerto Ricans also welcomed and supported the idea because there were many people who badly want their independence from Spain. However, not everyone wanted to be revolutionaries which was why they preferred to be annexed by the U.S.

Through the Antillean Confederation, Hostos was able to promote the independence of Puerto Rico and Cuba. He traveled to many countries just to see this succeed. The countries that he went to include France, Columbia, United States, Chile, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Cuba and many more.

Contributions to Latin America

Peru was one of the countries that Hostos has visited in the past. While he was there, he helped develop the country’s educational system and he also spoke against the harsh treatment invoked on the Chinese people who live there. He stayed in Chile for 3 years and taught in the University of Chile. He even gave a speech called ‘The Scientific Education of Women’. In this speech, he proposed the idea that women should be given the chance to enroll in colleges. Not long after, his wish was granted and women were accepted in the school.

As an Educator

Hostos was in Dominican Republic in the year 1875 when he founded the first Normal School in Santo Domingo. There he implemented advanced teaching techniques that were opposed by the Catholic church as Hostos did not agree to teaching any religious courses in the school.

He left for Venezuela in 1876 and married Belinda Otilia de Ayala. He returned to Dominican Republic 3 years later when his first Normal school was finally inaugurated. He got the title of director and furthermore, helped built the second Normal school in Santiago de los Caballeros.

In 1899, he returned to the United States and participated in independence movements among Puerto Ricans and Cubans. His proposals were sadly rejected by the Americans because they turned the island into an American colony, which failed Hostos’ dream to gain independence for the Puerto Ricans.