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Author Topic: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang  (Read 2569 times)

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Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« on: November 28, 2007, 01:26:25 PM »
I hear this one on so many versions and under various names, like Spanish Two-Step or Spanish Fandango (that one's a nicer name - what's a "Flang Dang" anyway?)

I wondered what's its origin? did she compose it? It's one of my favorite tunes - it is simple, beautiful, and pure "Cotten".

Offline unezrider

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Re: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2007, 01:47:09 PM »
i believe in john miller's instructional video on cotten, he mentions the song had old parlor piece origins. it would sound that way, to be sure. & if i'm not mistaken, the term 'spanish tuning' may be derived from this song title? but john would know more about this than me....
but i do know that she did not write the piece.
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Offline Pan

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Re: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2007, 05:29:40 PM »
Hi Ragged Time.

Using the search function you'll find Spanish Fandango discussed on numerous threads.     

Check out this old parlor guitar music sheet from "Winners's New American School for the Guitar
Copyright 1883 by White, Smith & Co".; if you can read standard notation, you'll find something peculiar: In the beginning of the music the open G, or Spanish tuning is given. However, the music is written as though one would be playing a guitar tuned in standard tuning. This is a rather strange way of notating an open tuning, and it's not used anymore, as far as I know:

p.s. I find Cottens version to be surprisingly close to the written arrangement, considering that she propably learned the song by oral tradition, rather than from any sheet music (I don't really know if she could read music).



Offline banjochris

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Re: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2007, 06:28:42 PM »
I've seen some fiddle music written out as if the fiddle is in standard tuning although the piece directs you to cross-tune. I guess they just assumed people who could sight read associated a note with a position of their hand; sort of a super-complex version of tab. Just as annoying, of course, is tab that tells you to capo at the second fret and then uses a "2" for that note instead of a "0."

Offline Johnm

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Re: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2007, 05:25:12 PM »
Hi all,
I'm afraid I don't know much about the origins of "Spanish Fandango", apart from the fact that it was originally a composed parlor guitar piece.  Steve James described its origins in a long car trip that we took with Orville Johnson to the Greater Yellowstone Music Camp last summer, but I don't remember the details.
Re the notational system you describe, Pan, I think that that approach to notating pieces in other than standard tuning is of pretty long standing.  I have a recording of some violin pieces by the Baroque composer Heinrich Biber, called "Sonatas For The Rosary".  They employ a complex religious symbology in their structure, and almost all of them require the fiddle to be put in highly altered tunings, which were called scordatura, to achieve unusual effects, many of which are really striking.  Biber assumed, rightfully I would think, that violinists would not at all be accustomed to playing in the various altered tunings he had devised, so he notated them as though the violin was in standard tuning, figuring that it would be less disorienting to hear a different pitch than you were reading than to try to find a note and compensate on a string that may have been altered by as much as a fifth.  The music sounds great, but it must drive the players crazy, to be hearing different notes sounding than they are reading.  In such an instance, I think tablature would be a far preferable system.
All best,

Offline Annette

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Re: Elizabeth Cotten's Spanish Flangdang
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 08:54:55 AM »


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