Flamenco is a form of music and dance with gypsy and Andalusian origins. It is traditionally associated with the gitano or tzigane - gypsy - people because of the essential role that they played in its interpretation and its diffusion.
Originally, flamenco consisted of unaccompanied singing (cante). Later, it was accompanied by a guitar (toque), followed by hands (palmas) and dancing (baile). Although singing is still considered to be at the heart of flamenco tradition, performances have often since involved unaccompanied guitar playing or dancing. More recently, instruments such as the cajón (a type of box drum which comes from Peru), the palillos (castanets), and the bass guitar have been introduced.
We can trace the origins of Flamenco to three main cultures, all of which were violently attacked and persecuted by the Catholic Church: Muslim, Jewish and Andalusian. Exegetes, musicologists and researchers now agree that the Triana quarter of Seville is to be considered as the cradle of flamenco. It was there that the first "tablaos", an early type of bar where live music was played, opened their doors to customers.
Flamenco did not properly develop until the latter part of the 18th century and it was only in the second half of the 19th century that flamenco became truly "popular", becoming an art form to be presented to the public. It was the appearance of the Cafés cantantes (bars where music was played) from 1842 onwards that caused the expansion of flamenco. The cafés cantantes also helped to reconcile the Andalusian and gitano traditions.