Flamenco is more of a lifestyle than a musical genre. Flamenco bailaores and performers usually take great pride in their gear, which resembles their personality and tastes. And one important piece of the equipment of any bailaora are Flamenco hair combs. This particular ornament is responsible of almost taking any woman with a colorful ample skirt and turning her into a true bailaora.
There are many models of hair combs. Some of them have the classic white rose or red carnation attached, so that when the performer makes her moves, there is no risk of losing the flower. Some others have pearls, while others a characteristic shell shape, which resemble old peinetones. Back then, these accessories were made of tortoiseshell, but now, with a more ecofriendly conception, there is no need to sacrifice an animal, and they are made of fine plastic components.
Castanets history is similar, regarding to the material they are made. Castanets have been among us since an incredible remote age: ten centuries BC. They were created by the Phoenician people. And since they travelled all around the ancient world with their trades, they took this percussion instrument wherever they went. At first, they were made of chestnut tree. Though castanets look alike for who is not an expert on the subject, the do sound differently: the bass castanets are called male and the sharper ones, female. There are only 4 professional castanet players all over the world. In symphonic orchestras, castanets are often played by the percussionist master.
Nowadays, some castanets are made of plastic, and the more expensive ones are custom made, to fit the hand of the musician. There are amazing pieces which were created to show off cheerful castanets sounds, such as Carmen, by Bizet, or Chabier’s Sapnish Rhapsody.