Diego del Gastor
Biography, discography, Real Audio and readers comments.


"Feeling and technique are not the same"
Diego del Gastor



Transcription: Norberto Torres Cortés
Translation by Norman Paul Kliman

From the video collection "Rito y Geografía del Toque". Alga Editores.

His self-imposed exile from the world of commercial flamenco is found in no other group or individual. Comparisons with Diego are useless. Today flamenco is found in many different forms, such as tablaos, recordings, and shows. It is not especially difficult for guitarists to participate in these projects, due to the growing popularity of this art form, and the fact that there are fewer guitarists than singers, which permits them to work regularly in these fields. Diego del Gastor avoids this kind of work, preferring instead his fiercely independent ways. This makes him very different, and his music sounds different from what we normally hear. His falsetas and the nuances in his playing are the result of his intuition and improvisation. Despite the fact that he does not venture beyond the limits of his village, Morón de la Frontera, in the province of Seville, today he may be considered one of the masters of the guitar.

I was born in Arriate in 1908 on the fifteenth of March, at calle Ronda, no. 8. After that I was baptized in Ronda, at calle Sevilla, no. 120. My baptism lasted five days, and it was a real party. After the baptism my father left where he was living, in Arriate, and later he went to El Gastor. He was there for around ten years, and then he came to Morón for forty years, which is how long we've been here. My father died, and my mother, too. The rest of the family is still here.

Photo: Steve Kahn

When your family came here, what did you do for a living?

My father was a horse trader. Really important; the most important one around here.

And could you live comfortably then?

Oh yeah. Real well. My father came here, and he did business here. He'd go to El Gastor on business, and then he'd come back.

Diego, is there some relationship between your family, the Amayas, and the famous Carmen Amaya?

I don't think so, because there are Amayas in Ronda, and that's one family, and then there's the family of Carmen Amaya, and that's another family.

There's something I've wanted to ask you for a long time. Are all the Amayas gitanos?

All of us. With the "m" we're Amayas.

Can you read music, Diego?

Yeah, just a little. I started to study music; the first, second, and third part of the course. I learned some exercises and played some concert pieces.

Has reading music helped your guitar playing?

It's been a big help.

Do you think it's necessary to know how to read music in order to play flamenco guitar?

Well, you'll always need knowledge. But playing flamenco comes from inside, and putting feeling into it. After learning to play flamenco you have to feel. But it's always another advantage.

What differences do you see in guitar playing from forty or fifty years ago and today?

Today guitarists play faster. They play, and they master the guitar. They're great. Today there are some kids that are great players. Feeling and technique are not the same.

What differences do you see between solo players and accompanists?

They're different. They're bound to be different. To accompany you have to pay attention to the singer. The accompanist has to concentrate on the singer, but the solo player can do whatever he feels, and he doesn't have to accompany. That's a big difference. That's what makes an accompanist different, and that's worth a whole lot, too.

Photo by Steve Kahn

Diego, what do you usually do every day? Tell us about how you live.

Everyday I have a drink with my friends, like my friend Vicente here, and others. We have a drink and we talk about what we like best: singing, guitar, and art.

You also teach some Americans that came here to learn from you, don't you?

A lot of classes. Americans, but not just Americans. From Finland, from France, Italy, and.... What's that country? Sweden... But there's another one.


No, not Greece; even farther. Farther than Japan. What's the....?


Australia! They're right here in Morón right now.

You teach all of them?

All of them. And they're intelligent, and they like it a lot.

In Morón the guitar is really popular. Why are there so many guitarists and so few singers in Morón? Is it because of you?

This is guitar country. In Morón, since way back, there's always been a guitarist.

Where does that tradition come from? How far back does it go?

Well, in the period that I know, the last fifty years, I've always seen some guitarist. Pepe Mesa, then Pepe Naranjo. They were the guitarists.

And, who do you consider the masters of the guitar? Who were your first teachers when you were learning to play?

When did I start to play?

Yeah. Who were your teachers? Who taught you to play?

I had a brother that taught me some things. Pepe Naranjo. And then I looked for guitarists to listen to. Once I got to hear Montoya, another time Niño Ricardo. Always Niño Ricardo. I always used to follow him around.

Transcription: Norberto Torres Cortés
Translation by Norman Paul Kliman

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