Like all good husbands, ahem, I watch Dancing with the Stars with Viola. I have my ups and downs with the show. It is entertaining to see judges rip the cockiness out of musicians, athletes, movie, and TV stars. On results day, the episode usually features a few guest artists. Last night’s results episode really bothered me. ABC failed, big time, by featuring Benise, a Spanish/nouveau flamenco guitarist. Umm.. oh no he isn’t. Prior to last night, I hadn’t heard of Benise, and I wish I still didn’t know about him.
Hack, poser, or wannabe are more appropriate titles than Spanish guitarist. The majority of the American public doesn’t understand the difference between good or bad Spanish guitar music. Flamenco is the traditional music of Spain. To give this stooge an audience is a complete disgrace to every flamenco and Spanish guitarist that has legitimate talent. The sham millions of people watched last night isn’t really a guitar player. Benise has no technique, which explains why he didn’t play much. It also explains why he didn’t do one rasqueado, a commonly used guitar strum in Spanish guitar. The music was awful and nothing remotely close to decent Spanish music.
Modern Spanish music evolved from flamenco. Traditional flamenco includes a dancer, guitarist, palmas (rhythmic clappers), and singer. Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albeniz and Enrique Granados wrote classical music inspired by flamenco. In fact, much the music composed by Albeniz and Granados is transcribed and performed on classical/Spanish guitar. For example, “Asturias,” a commonly performed piece by guitarists, was written for piano Albeniz.
The Spanish guitar technique has adopted many of the attributes associated with flamenco guitar. For starters, flamenco and Spanish guitarists use their right hand to pluck and strum the strings versus a pick. Second, they don’t prance around on stage acting like a fake Fabio playing pseudo-Spanish melodies. This is because the technical demands of performing flamenco or Spanish music are great requiring the player to sit. Finally, Spanish music is of much better quality. Spanish music is rhythmic, fiery, and passionate.
Here is a great example by Paco de Lucia, considered one of the best flamenco guitarists:
For a little more traditional angle, watch this flamenco dance troupe:
Yes, I get that DWTS is a show. But even the weaker pop musicians I despise like the Jonas Brothers have 100 percent more talent than Benise. I can appreciate a little fluff on a show. It’s television and designed to entertain the public. However, I have a problem when the producers at ABC choose a hack over anyone else with a little more substance.
In case you missed the questionable performance by Benise, watch it for yourself and decide.