In many cultures, people have developed basic human feelings and emotions into elaborated art forms.
Sometimes feelings and emotions has been given names such as The Blues in North America, Saudade in the Portuguese culture, the Duende in the Spanish culture, and the feeling of the Tango. These names that have no immediate translation in English but they are concepts that try to describe the difficult-to-define complexities of feelings.
The term “the blues” refers to the “blue devils”, meaning melancholy and sadness. In lyrics, the phrase is often used to describe a depressed mood. According to Wikipedia the origin of the term of was most likely derived from mysticism involving blue indigo, which was used by many West African cultures in death and mourning ceremonies where all the mourner’s garments would have been dyed blue to indicate suffering. This mystical association towards the indigo plant, grown in many southern US slave plantations, combined with the West African slaves who sang of their suffering as they worked on the cotton that the indigo dyed eventually resulted in these expressed songs being known as “the Blues”.
As you can conclude by viewing Wikipedia, many pages are necessary to explain the concepts of feeling “the blues”. However, you can turn to another mode of understanding, perhaps more directly connected to the senses.
Click on the link to listen to classical “Blues shuffle”.
Can you “feel” it?
El Duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to music. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive. Folk music in general, especially flamenco, tends to embody an authenticity that comes from people whose culture is enriched by diaspora and hardship; vox populi, the human condition of joys and sorrows.
Close your eyes, listen and follow your feelings and thoughts: What are your responses? Does El Duende takes possession of you?
Saudade has been described as a “…vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something that does not exist or is unattainable.
The feeling of Saudade is deeply connected with the Fado, a Portuguese music style, generally sung by a single person (the fadista) along with a Portuguese guitar. The most popular themes of fado are saudade, nostalgia, jealousy.
Can you empathize with the song in the video below, without understanding Portuguese, and in a more profound way than ever would be possible in words?
Tango is known as a dance, but many believe that the essence of Tango is a feeling in the music, the embrace and the walk.
Tango is a feeling that is danced.’ Without emotion, dancers are just going through the motions. Emotion is what is shared between man and woman in the embrace. The music is the source of the emotion and the embrace is the catalyst for sharing it. All this occurs while walking connected to the music. These are the essential ingredients of tango.
The feelings are about pain, pleasure, passion, excitement, connection, freedom, torment and bliss. Some say that other music exists to heal wounds but the tango is for purpose of opening them, for purpose of sticking your finger in the wound and to tear them until they bleed ……
Look at the walk, listen to the music, feel the embrace.
Photo: “Blue Background” by suphakit73