Granada, Spain, is the setting of the new album Granada Doaba, an improvised mix of flamenco, Andalusian and hip-hop music from ethnomusicologist and musician Canyon Cody. Its 14 tracks were performed, recorded and mixed in Cody's makeshift studio above a flamenco guitar shop in Granada, as he studied the multicultural history of the region on a Fulbright scholarship. Cody recently spoke with NPR's Madeleine Brand about his album's musical, historical and social undercurrents.
Granada Doaba is the new album from ethnomusicologist and musician Canyon Cody.
Courtesy of the artist
Ethnomusicologist and musician Canyon Cody recorded his album in a makeshift studio in Granada, Spain, as he studied the history of the region on a Fulbright scholarship.
Ethnomusicologist and musician Canyon Cody recorded his album in a makeshift studio in Granada, Spain, as he studied the history of the region on a Fulbright scholarship. Courtesy of the artist
Granada was the last Arab stronghold to fall to the Catholic reconquest of Spain in 1492. The Alhambra, the palace of the Arab king, still stands in Granada. After the reconquest, many of Granada's cultural groups — including the Gypsies and the Moors — were forced out of town.
"You had two separate cultures, both living in the margins of society, sharing their music with each other," Cody says. "So Granada's flamenco, in particular, has this Arab feel."
Though Cody's background in ethnomusicology served as a starting point for his album, he says the real inspiration came from the diverse group of musicians he met. He worked with 16 different players, only one of whom was a native of Granada.
"Granada has an enchanting spell," Cody says. "People come for a visit and never leave."
Cody says he hopes for his album to not only connect different cultures in the present, but also vertically connect different generations through time.
"What attracted me to Granada is not just that it's this crossroads," Cody says. "It's also this time warp of being such a young and vibrant town, but you also have this looming presence of the Alhambra."
The history of Granada is what makes Cody's cross-cultural project not simply a musical achievement, but also a social one.
"We tried to reach back into that common past and realize that it's going to be our responsibility to build a common future," he says.
But Cody keeps his ambitions circumscribed by his love for Granada.
"We didn't want to make this some sort of a global mash-up of different styles, but really document a local scene," he says. "This was recorded in a neighborhood by neighbors."