One of the hardest songs I’ve ever tried to learn. I had attempted this song years ago, and barely got through the first 10 seconds of it. I feel this song has improved my technique tremendously.
This style of columbianas has always fascinated me, the rhythm is so basic, so simplistic it really feels like the true nature of music. Also people usually like this style because it conveys happiness and that is easy to understand.
When I first heard this song I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe my ears. This song was created by Paco de Lucia as a tribute to Camaron, one of the greatest flamenco singers, who had recently died.
Paco has really outdone himself on this one. It is a statement of regret and deep sadness, just like a rondena is supposed to be. But the real twist comes near the end, the rhythm he found is unique. Whenever I play this song I feel like I want to repeat it 50 times and then again.
For me Rondena conveys a feeling of desperation and confusion for the most part, and near the ending it produces clarity and power through the special rhythm.
The interesting part is the usual formation of a rondena. In my experience a good rondena will look like it doesn’t make any sense for about 80%, then the last portion is played in a certain rhythm that needs some unique characteristics.
I only played this part of the song because most people like to get to the point fast, but I may include the rest of the song in a future release.
Learning Guitar Scales has undoubtedly been a problem of every guitarist, as much as a question in itself as to whether or not it’s worth doing it. While it’s true that scales will help you speed up your guitar playing, it’s also unreliable as far as musical theory goes.
You don’t really learn any music when you memorise that C major has 0 1 3 on E strings etc, but you do become familiar with some basic shapes on the guitar that help you easily improvise your solos.
If you can back up your scale learning with a bit of music theory then I strongly suggest you do this. The basic reasons is that it’s harder to think that D major chord has a F# etc then it is to remember the shape with your left hand.
One of the skills great guitarists have is the fact that they know every note on the guitar. There are little secrets regarding remembering them on the guitar, for instance 7 on a string means the note of the string before it (7 on E string means B note etc) with one exception on the B string, where the G note is found on the 8th fret.
These are things that you will notice for yourself when you gather enough experience. You just need to learn the notes on each string and then the shapes and forms will create themselves in your mind.
These are the reasons I strongly suggest learning all notes on all the strings before you start learning scales. Once you know every note on every string it will be very easy to learn any kind of scale you like to.
Flamenco Cantinas is not really a flamenco genre, the term rather defines a range of cantes (or styles of song) that all have the same base rhythm. Cantinas are generally live, happy songs; some of the more well known styles are the alegrias, mirabras and caracoles.
All the styles included in Flamenco Cantinas are festive genres. They are indispensable at any flamenco get-togethers, very loud and happy with short lyrics, very suitable for dancing.
The basic meter of the Cantinas is resembles the bulerias, which means it is a 12-beat meter:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
As far as the guitar playing goes they are generally following the same pattern as the bulerias and solea, but are structured around major keys. The alegrias in A major, the mirabras in E major and so on. The variations are directly dependant on the tonalities, which is the basic key of the song. Rhythmically they are often played as the alegrias style.
Technically I would say that these are some of the toughest styles, particularly the alegrias. You would use every flamenco technique frequently, such as alzapua and picados and this requires a good degree of concentration, whereas in the heat of a party the loudness of the background noise can quickly throw you off balance.
Because it is such challenging to play these styles correctly I always find the satisfaction of a good performance very enjoyable, especially if it’s accompanied by a few drinks afterwards, and I often think about these kinds of parties.
The Alegrias term means happy, or joy; it is derived from the Latin term alicer. This genre belongs to the same category as the cantinas. It started off as a song for dancing but thanks to the contribution of the flamenco greats there are now even solo alegrias pieces.
Often accompanied by a cajon or palmas, guitar-only pieces proved to be some of the most difficult flamenco pieces technique-wise. The famous “La Barrosa” by the great Paco De Lucia is known to be the toughest piece ever recorded. Paco also gives us a flawless example performance in Germany in the year1996, one of Paco’s best years.
The flamenco Alegrias is often played at parties, being an integral part of any flamenco get-together. It is because of the happy and festive atmosphere it creates, and because it is fitting to dancers, that it is so popular among parties.
The rhythm is a 12-beat meter, the guitar bringing the livelier character to it:
123 456 78 910 11 12
The guitar plays in a major key, as is the case for every cantinas. In the case of the alegrias, there is a scale change, during the introduction. The basic keys used are: in the middle: A – E 7th; and at the top: E – B. This doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, however the fast rhythm and complex falsetas make this style a challenge for every guitarist.
The flamenco rumba is a Spanish style with American origins. Over the last half a century it has become the universal symbol of flamenco; famous for it’s exquisite flowing rhythm that is suitable for dancers and solo guitarists alike.
Flamenco is formed out of 3 major divisions. Singing, dancing and playing the guitar. Few flamenco styles exclude any of the major divisions and the rumba makes no exception. It is widely popular at parties because of it’s suitability to dancing and free improvisation. Even though the style lacks in depth and authenticity it is well known mainly because of it’s base simplicity.
While rumba encompasses all 3 main forms of flamenco, I will only talk about the guitar playing. The basic meter is formed out of 4 beats:
1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4
In flamenco rumba the guitarist usually follows a straight-forward accompany strumming pattern with semi-percussive strumming. This is indispensable and much of the richness of the rhythm comes from this type of strumming. Other important elements that ensure variation include percussion, in the form of cajon, and hand-clapping.
In the past the guitar was only used as an accompany instrument for the singers and dancers, but with the appearance of great performers, like the legendary Sabicas and the contemporary Paco de Lucia, it has evolved much beyond this and now it is even seen as a solo instrument.
One particularly well known rumba piece is Entre Dos Aguas, which belongs to the great Paco de Lucia, and it is probably his most famous piece. Numerous amateur guitarists have attempted to copy and play this song in gigs or at home, which shows the popularity and leverage this style has with the general population.
Flamenco guitar music is unique because of a number of perks. In spite of a certain degree of classical music into it, it is very different in both technique and feeling. Bits of jazz improvisation can also be found in flamenco guitar music, but this doesn’t mean it is jazzy or that it has a jazzy feeling.
Generally classical guitar music has a dark touch to it, which means the tempo is kind of slow and calculated. The main thing is calm in classical music, whereas in jazz the primary trait is improvisation. Both these qualities can be found in most music genres, but what makes flamenco unique is the expression of Spanish culture.
Flamenco guitar music is made to express the guitarists feelings, and whether they are genuine or not is very much apparent in the music he creates. A joyfull person will find difficulty in playing a sad style, unless it completely changes his mood. This is imperative to flamenco, as this music is all about expressing your current feelings.
For happiness there is alegrias, and a number of other genres, for parties we have bulerias and a few others. The same pattern holds for all the flamenco styles. Each of them is supposed to express defined feelings like anger, despair or happiness. Flamenco guitar music is beautiful because of this peculiar feeling it has.
In flamenco, fixed forms dictate how a song must be carried out. This is very helpful to both the instrumentists as well as the singers and dancers. But while this is useful in the actual playing of the music, it is very dampening to a guitarists capability to do a flamenco guitar solo. These styles are not so open to improvisation, unlike jazz for instance.
The best one can do is flourish the rhythm up to the sky, and the only part that allows for freedom of play is generally the falseta portion. Falsetas are variations specific to the genre that the guitarist plays in between the singing and dancing as a flamenco guitar solo. These are different for every style, but you could play a bulerias falseta in a solea, or the other way around because these 2 styles are much the same. Sometimes the key in which solea is played is used to play a bulerias, this combination will be called bulerias por solea, using solea chords to play bulerias.
This key changing thing is very interesting for flamenco guitar solo, as different keys have different peculiarities, so a good guitarist can use them for many different effects, enchancing the quality of the music he plays.
However, even these falsetas are pretty much mapped-out. Though a guitarist can try and compose his own, this is much more difficult than playing what is standard; so you hear a lot of the same variations every day. I encourage you to stop playing what you know and start to create your own music. Forget about what you know and every time you play create a new and different flamenco guitar solo, whatever you can think of. This will make your guitar playing much more interesting.
This free online guitar lesson will deal with a little bit more advanced and detailed techniques. Namely the picados and alzapua. Both of these techniques are characteristic to flamenco guitar and both are really hard to master.
As they stand they are at the complete opposite of one another, the picado is alternate index and middle finger picking for fast variations, while alzapua is a thumb technique a lot different from every other existing technique.
In this free online guitar lesson we’ll start with the picado, since it is a little easier to comprehend and explain. Now, for the basic technique, it is really just alternate picking with the index and middle fingers. However, an important thing about picado is that there are actually 2 types of picado, divided in rest strokes and free strokes. The deal about these is that free strokes don’t touch any other string after the actual picking of a string, while rest strokes are called that because the finger rests on the next string from the one that was played.
Alzapua is a totally different thing. The basic technique is a combination of strokes with the thumb. First comes a normal rest stroke (explained above) on a string, then a quick one-move motion on the next 2 strings, then a backward with the back of the thumbnail quick one-move motion up 3 strings to the initial position, then you repeat. Doing this fast will create a much more powerful sound than any other technique. Sometimes the ring finger is used to hit the guitar case (golpe) when doing alzapua for an added twist.
I believe this free online guitar lesson should help you understand and develop your technique neatly. If you practice both they will help each other more than you can think of. When you see no more progress practicing picado, try some alzapua exercises and you’ll see results soon enough. Likewise the other way around works too.