Deep Song Contest of 1922

Photo of the Cante Jondo Contest published by the magazine 'Nuevo Mundo'.

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June 1922: A crusade of singing

In June 1922, the composer Manuel de Falla, settled in Granada for two years now, started a musical and avant-garde crusade with the help of his friends from this city: to rescue the primitive Andalusian “cante” or “cante jondo” that was about to disappear in the memory of the old singers and besieged by the spurious and catchy derivations of the “cafés cantantes”. On June 13 and 14, 1922, a contest open only to fans and with 8,500 pesetas in prizes was held in the Plaza de los Aljibes in the Alhambra, that, in Falla’s candid imagination, should save that music whose origin dates back to the beginning of time. Along with him, a group of spirited collaborators among whom were Ignacio Zuloaga, Miguel Cerón, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz and Federico García Lorca, who contributed their conferences, theCante jondo poem and a lyrical sensibility that influenced their poetry and plays.

On June 13 and 14, 1922, a contest open only to fans and with 8,500 pesetas in prizes was held in the Plaza de los Aljibes de la Alhambra.

All assumed the terms of that urgent battle that had the virtue of elevating the “cante jondo” and, in general, all popular music, to an indisputable cultural category, away from the clichés and tavern cries. The debates and controversies that it generated are still open, which is clear proof of the vitality and success of the initiative.

The contest was full of successes and errors, findings and misunderstandings that today are part of a legendary story that can be told in many ways. This, ours, is one of them.