Jan 082015
Painting by Richard Young

Painting by Richard Young

To explain the mystery and importance of Duende to artistic expression, Lorca tells the story of a great Andalusian singer whose performance leaves a modest audience unimpressed one night in a little tavern in Cadiz. “Here we care nothing about ability, technique, skill. Here we are after something else,” they seem to say. The songstress then tears at her expensive gown, guzzles a tall glass of burning liquor and begins “to sing with a scorched throat: without voice, without breath or color but with Duende” all to the crowd’s raucous approval. Lorca says, “She had to rob herself of skill and security, send away her muse and become helpless, that her Duende might come and deign to fight her hand to hand…” (from Terrance Hayes, More Theories of the Duende & Teaching the Inexplicable)

As Nick Cave wrote, “All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them.

The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil – the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here – so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.”

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  9 Responses to “The Sound of Duende”

  1. Hence our being here…c’est necessaire.

  2. I know that this is about romantic love but the concept reminds me of the days and weeks after the births of each of my babies, where I so deeply experienced this paradox. The immensity of joy, love, intimacy, union, expansion into a new dimension of love and hand in hand the sheer terror that this could somehow now be taken from me, the excruciating weight of the knowledge that my newly expanded heart was all the more vulnerable to breaking now, life irrevocably more rich and also more dangerous.

  3. This speaks to me perfectly, I am so grateful you wrote these words and offered these insights this day, many thanks.

  4. thank you, so much, so much…
    deepest gratitude to your beautiful soul and wisdom and brilliance…
    hugs, Big Love..

  5. I feel therefore I am…humming the minor keys.

  6. I enjoyed this, as I once had a dream in which el Duende played a part, and I didn’t know what it meant.
    Your words are helping me to excavate the meaning, and also resonate with my own experience.
    Raw, unguarded love…

  7. my home/shop/yoga retreat center is called El Duende….Im in Andalucia,I heard the word and fell in love with its resonance…its for sure resonating within me still…

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