stick. Unaccompanied singing, except for the rhymic
beating of an upright stick on the ground.
enthusiast follower, fan, amateur.
It describes the expressiveness, atmosphere or general
character of a flamenco performance.
(Song and dance form) Alboreá is of pure Gypsy origin,
traditionally sung only at weddings, being unlucky
on other occasions. It is a gypsy wedding song performed
to the compás of Bulerias. Alba means daybreak
or dawn. The name indicates that the songs were
either literally sung at dawn, or symbolically represented
the dawning of a new life.
"The word alba is also defined as a 'troubadour song
or poem' of lovers' parting at dawn. Troubadours
were 11th and 12th century poet-musicians of southern
France. The German counterparts
of the troubadours, the 'minnesingers', also used
the form, calling it Tagelied (day song). The words
Alboreá (singular) and Alboreás (plural)
are commonly interchangable and mean exactly the
same thing." Britannica
2000 CD Rom.
(Song and dance form) Alegria means happiness or merriment.
Developed in Cádiz, this form is derived
from, and has the same compás as Soleares.
Alegrías is a lively dance form normally
played in the key of A major. The words Alegria
(singular) and Alegrías (plural) are commonly
interchangable and mean exactly the same thing.
Alegrías por Rosas
Also known simply as Rosas. This is Alegrías commonly
played in the key of E Major. In contrast to the
brisk, happy sounding Alegrías in A Major,
Alegrías por Rosas are slower and more melancholy.
A right hand playing technique. The thumb is used to play
down and up strokes across one or a group of strings
in combination with apoyando single notes. It's
possible that this technique developed as an imitation
of the way the Arabic Ud was played with a wooden
Atmosphere or Ambience
This is one or more steps which may be heard just before
the main accent of a phrase, such as in a 4 step
redoble. We can say an anacrusis is an embellishment.
For example, if the last step of a redoble lands
on beat 1 of a Farruca (the accented downbeat),
the preceding 3 steps (the triplet) is an anacrusis.
The same applies to a rapid series of guitar notes
played before any main beat.
Ring finger. Right hand guitar notation symbol - indicated
by a lower case 'a'.
Out. A muting technique on the guitar used to cut the sound
short. It may be done with either hand. With the
left hand the little finger is used. With the right
hand the strings are stopped using the palm. Also
referred to as Parado (stopped).
A guitar term. To play apoyando means to play notes using
the classical style 'rest stroke'. After striking
the string, the finger comes to rest on the adjacent
lower string. All picado passages are played apoyando.
Aro means hoop. The name given to the (curved) side of the
A musical term. A chord broken up into a series of single
To drag. Guitar playing technique. Dragging the ring finger
(a) up the strings from treble to bass.
Andalucian folk song of medieval tradition which may be
Celtic in origin. The name is taken from the words
Bamba (swing: noun), Bambolear (swinging) and Bamboleo
(to swing). This is one of the more obscure flamenco
song forms. The words Bambera (singular) and Bamberas
(plural) are commonly interchangable and mean exactly
the same thing.
Mouth. The sound hole of the guitar.
Although not considered Flamenco, the Bolero played an important
part in the evolution of some of the more familiar
dance forms. The word bolero comes from the verb
volar (to fly). Jumps and leaps were an integral
part of the dance as were paseo (walk) and parado
(sudden stops). It developed into a set dance from
a combination of folk and classical styles as well
as the court dances of the late l8th century. One
of the folk styles that influenced it was the old
Fandangos. Another was the Siguidillas Manchegas,
which also influenced the development of the Sevillanas.It
goes without saying that Maurice Ravel was sufficiently
inspired by the Bolero to sit down and compose his
famous orchestral version, although I must confess
that this piece conjours up images about arabs in
the desert. The Flamenco composition Los Panaderos
(the bread maker), by Esteban de Sanlucar, is a
form of Bolero and has been recorded by Paco de
Lucía, Juan Serrano and others. Not being
an expert on the subject I can only rely on what
others say and do. I also have a record with Carlos
Montoya playing a piece called Bolero.
(Song and dance form) The words barullo (noise) and burla
(joke, jest) both apply to the character of Bulerias,
but no one really knows how the name came about.
It is believed to have evolved as a faster version
of Alegrías in Jerez. Full of fun and frivolity,
Bulerías is considered the ultimate expression
for the skills of both dancer and guitarist.Although
the compás is unvarying within its 12 beat
structure, Bulerías is rhythmically very
flexible, and open to sudden bursts of spontaneity
and melodic variations. It occupies a central position
in any dance or guitar repertoire and is usually
reserved as the flashy final number in performances.
Alegrías and Soleá will often build
up in speed and change into a Bulerias to finish
off. This is referred to as ending the dance por
Bulerias. The words Buleria (singular) and Bulerias
(plural) are commonly interchangable and mean exactly
the same thing.
Buleria al golpe
A style of Bulerias that highlights the golpe (taps).
Buleria por Soleá
A slower variation of Bulerias.
Head. The head of the guitar.
Flamenco rhythm box. This is a wooden box that looks something
like a small tea chest with a round sound hole cut
out of the rear face. A performer sits on this and
reaches down to beat on the front face.
Gypsy word for Gypsies
Spanish Gypsy language
Bells. A musical section in Zapateado, which imitates the
sound of bells.
Bell ringers. Traditional these are songs sung during religious
processions that begin at dawn. They are accompanied
by the ringing of small bells. The tradition of
bell ringing is also connected with religious activities
in monasteries. Campanilleros are not really flamenco
but are nonetheless still sung and played by some
artists as part of their repertoire. The words Campanillero
(singular) and Campanilleros (plural) are commonly
interchangable and mean exactly the same thing.
Means 'little song'. This is the third of the three general
classifications of flamenco songs. Lighthearted,
festive or folkloric style songs and dances.
Means 'important song'. This is the first of the three general
classifications of flamenco songs. These are the
so-called basic songs, considered the earliest forms
of flamenco. By nature, they are also Cante Jondo.
Means 'middle song'. This is the second of the three general
classifications of flamenco songs. It is an arbitrary
'middle' classification between Grande and Chico.
Some would argue that this somewhat grey area is
an academic fabrication and has no real meaning
in the true scheme of things. This may be so, but
it does make flamenco forms a little easier to understand.
Deep song. A style of singing. To the untrained ear, the
sounds of Cante Jondo seem harsh and primitive and
are not everybody's cup of tea to be sure. The powerful
emotion expressed by a singer at close range is
frightening. I, for one, have never gotten used
to it, despite it's important role in flamenco,
and prefer the more lyrical and melodic song forms.
Jondo style songs are passionate and profound and
can be found in both 'Grande' and 'Intermedio' classifications.
A family of song forms from Cádiz which include Alegrías
, Romeras , Mirabrás , Rosas and Caracoles.
According to Donn Pohren, "the word was originally
used to describe medieval songs from Galicia, in
Northern Spain. Today, it's meaning is extended
to signify popular song.....The cantes listed above
therefore, are no longer referred to as Cantiñas
(but by their specific names). The notable exception
is Alegrías, which many cantaores and aficionados
name Alegrías or Cantiñas interchangeably."
We'll have take his word for it on this last point.
The way I see it, it can be a little confusing when
you consider that Cantiñas is also the name
of a specific form of Alegrías played in
the key of C, whereas Alegrías is played
in the key of A and can sound quite different. Furthermore,
Alegrías is the only one from this lot that
has a silencio section. Structurally, Cantiñas
(the family of songs) are the same as Soleá,
except for subdued accent on the count of 12. Depending
on who you speak to, some consider this classification
of these Alegrías style songs outdated and
meaningless. A post on the flamenco list sums it
up: “...I recalled a conversation where people
were debating whether Alegrías was a generic
name for a family of cantes which include Cantiñas
-- or vice versa. With el cante, I often find that
the 'answers' to questions like this are more confusing
than I bargained for. So I think the real answer
is just to keep listening and enjoying.”
Abbreviation of Capotasto. Italian word. (Capo = at the
beginning, Tasto = guitar finger board). A transposing
device fixed across the strings to raise the pitch.
Traditionally, its purpose is to pitch the guitar
to a singers voice.
(Song and dance form) One of the group of songs known as
Cantiñas. Caracoles means snails, which gives
an indication of its lighthearted nature. It was
developed in Madrid in the 19th century. It is rhythmically
identical to Alegrías, the only difference
being the key (C Major), different chord sequences
and nonsense verses.
One of the oldest flamenco song forms originating in the
prisons of Andalucia. The cante describe the singer's
loss and freedom and jail life. See also TONAS
Carlos Montoya (1903-1993) was a gypsy born in Madrid. Around
1940 he became an American citizen and went on to
record a multitude of records, gaining himself a
huge following the world over. He began playing
when he was 8 years old. His famous uncle Ramon
refused to teach him so he took lessons from the
local barber for 3 years. At the age of 14 he started
playing in the local Café Cantantes.Throughout
his career he was highly criticized for the roughness
of his playing and the apparent liberty he took
with compás and speed variations. He was
well aware that aficionados rarely appreciated his
music. The usual complaints were that he used excessive
left hand legato, his playing was choppy and he
used too much tremolo. But as he quite rightly pointed
out in his own defense, (in conversation with Brook
Zern after a concert) I have filled the Houston
Astrodome. No other flamenco artist will ever do
that. He said proudly that he owed absolutely nothing
to his uncle and simply refused to assimilate any
of Ramon's immeasurable contributions to flamenco.
It is easy to criticize the man, but the fact remains
that Carlos Montoya played a significant role in
raising international awareness of flamenco.
Carmen Amaya was one of the best known flamenco dancers.
In the '40s and '50s, this exotic Gypsy woman won
international acclaim performing for such notable
people as Roosevelt and Churchill. From the age
of four she performed alongside her father in the
taverns and music halls of Barcelona. By the time
she reached her teens, she was already well known
to audiences in Madrid and Paris. During the 1930's,
she traveled the world and performed to enthusiastic
audiences everywhere she went. The people of North
and South America fell in love with Carmen Amaya-the
embodiment of Spanish pride and passion. She went
on to make films in Hollywood and appeared on Broadway,
often accompanied by the great guitar virtuoso,
Sabicas. And though she triumphed on stages all
around the world, she always remained true to her
Gypsy heritage. Throughout most of her performing
life, her huge company was made up almost entirely
of her extended family, and they traveled together
in the traditional Gypsy way, sharing their luck
as well as their hardships. And hardship indeed
fell on Carmen Amaya. In 1963 at the age of 50,
she died in her native Barcelona of kidney failure.
Adapted from the essay by Robert Withers and Meira Goldberg
(SONG FORM. TOQUE LIBRE) A Fandangos based song taking its
name from the area of origin, Cartagena. One of
the songs known as Cante de Levante. It is believed
to have evolved from the Tarantas.
A pair of wooden plates held together in one hand, which
provide rhythmic accompaniment during a dance. Also
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANTE JONDO) A song form with exactly
the same compás and accompaniment as Soleá.
The only difference is it's distinct Ay Ay Aye's
and the melodic line. It's significance lies in
the widely accepted theory that this early song
form helped give birth to Soleá. True to
the tradition of inconsistency in flamenco, there
are those who believe that the Caña came
The Spanish word for Capo. Ceja means little eyebrow. The
traditional cejilla has a curved top, resembling
an eyebrow, to accommodate the wooden tightening
(Song and dance form) A carefree style of Tanguillos with
the emphasis on spontaneity and humor.
Traditional wooden tuning pegs on the guitar. Clavija means
Modern geared machine heads for tuning the guitar.
(Song and dance form) A delightful song form based on the
melodies and rhythms of Colombian folk music. This
form was brought to prominence by Carmen Amaya and
Sabicas. For those who like a good argument, it
has been suggested that Colombianas, like Rumba
and Guajiras, is a variation on the Argentinean
Rhythm, beat, meter. The basic element of flamenco rhythm.
Specifically, Compás is a recurring pattern
of accented beats analogous to a bar of music. This
dictates the unique rhythmic structure of any given
The international tuning pitch - For the guitar this is
A = 440 oscillations a second. It's amazing how
many guitarists refuse to acknowledge that there
is such a standard. There is nothing more annoying
than rocking up to a rehearsal or performance venue
to find that the other guitarist(s) are out of tune
for whatever reason. All you can really do sometimes
is grit your teeth and whistle, 'Don't worry, be
happy'. Attempting to tune your instrument to the
non standard pitch while dancers and palmeros are
making lots of noise is no fun, especially when
you take on the aura of the villain, because you
are holding up proceedings while you tune. Life
is so unfair.
Syncopated rhythm. Counter rhythms.
A verse from a song. The word colpa is also used to describe
the various sections of Sevillanas and Fandangos.
(TOQUE LIBRE) Literally means 'Moorish dance'. This form
is heavily influenced by the Arabic style of music
and dance. See also ZAMBRA
Of or from. Many artists have stage names which mean something
like 'Jack from London'. Paco de Lucía explains
that when he was young there were so many Pacos
in the neighborhood, that the convenient way to
tell them apart was to call then after their mother's
names. His mother's name was Lucia.
Dance steps which indicate an approaching break in the dance.
A climactic point in the dance which is usually
introduced by a llamada.
Fingerboard of the guitar. Possibly from the Greek 'Dia
Pason Chordon' (through all the strings.
The trance like fixation, or haunting feeling one may experience
while enjoying a flamenco performance. Duende is
an inner spirit, which is released as a result of
a performer's intense emotional involvement with
the music, song and dance. Read the complete esssay.
Entry or beginning
The word escoba means broom. Escobilla can mean either:
1) Brushing steps 2) Footwork 3) A section of dance
in Alegrías or Soleares, in which the dancer
improvises around a repetitious musical phrase.
A dance step/turn executed with the train of a dress,
which imitates the brushing motion of a broom.
Little finger (pinky). Right hand guitar notation symbol
- indicated by a lower case 'e'. Extremo means last.
The 'e' symbol has become the standard today but
it wasn't always so. In the flamenco guitar method
by Ivor Mairants (1958), the right hand little finger
was indicated with a lower case 'p'. This stood
for 'pequeno' which means 'little' finger. The problem
was that he also used the lowercase 'p' to indicate
'pulgar' for the right hand thumb. In Juan Serrano's
series of Mel Bay books a lower case 's' is used
to indicate the little finger and in Paco Peña's
"Toques Flamencos" book (1976) a 'x' is
used. Thank goodness for standards eh!
A musical variation played on the guitar
(SONG FORM. CANTE JONDO. TOQUE LIBRE) An abstract song form
which evolved as a serious version of the original
Fandangos and is sung without compás. This
song form may also be referred to as Fandango naturales.
Most of the toque libre are derived from Fandango
An ancient Andalucian folk song and dance with roots going
back at least as far as the Arab invasion (711AD).
It is believed to have derived from the JOTA, a
lively paired dance from Aragon in the north. Almost
every region of Andalucia has it's own version of
fandangos. There are two types. FANDANGO GRANDE
(great fandangos) and FANDANGUILLOS (little fandangos).
For general performance, we are mainly interested
in the more popular Fandanguillos such as FANDANGOS
DE HUELVA and VERDIALES, the fandangos of Málaga.
Fandangos de Huelva
(Song and dance form) A popular regional species of Fandangos
from the province of Heulva. A lively dance for
couples reminiscent of Sevillanas. Like the Sevillanas,
copla melodies follow a standard harmonic pattern
set within a strict rhythmic structure. Fandangos
de Huelva (plural) are also commonly referred to
by their generic name, FANDANGUILLOS.
Little Fandangos. A 'group' name for the regional styles
of festive Fandangos. These include Fandango de
Huelva , Fandango de Lucena, Fandango de Almeria
and so on. Verdiales , which could also be called
Fandangos de Málaga by the same naming system,
are also Fandaguillos by definition.
(Song and dance form) A dramatic male dance in 4/4 time.
Originally a song from the northern region of Galicia.
Andalucian gypsies adopted it and changed it to
suit their own tastes. The Farruca is usually played
in the key of A minor. Although the rhythm is strong
and strictly defined, some passages begin slowly
and gradually build up speed, especially in the
final stages. Although this form is considered a
man's dance, women have also performed it to great
effect (dressed in a man's costume of course). It
seems a little strange to me that a dance sometimes
referred to as La
Farruca, a. very feminine sounding name, should
have such a male aura about it. One would think
that the masculine name 'El Farruco' would be more
appropriate (and logical), but who am I to argue
Federico Garcia Lorca
(1898-1936) Spanish lyric poet and dramatist. His work reflects
the spirit of his native Andalusia and his own passionate
response to life. Gypsy Ballads (1928) made him
the most popular Spanish poet of his generation,
while Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter (1935)
and The Poet in New York (1940) evidenced his growing
maturity of thought. His plays, notably the tragedies
Blood Wedding (1933) and The House of Bernarda Alba
(1936), ensure his continuing international reputation.
Garcia Lorca was shot by Franco's soldiers at the
outbreak of the Spanish civil war.
What flamenco is
Pure flamenco. (whatever that is) A confusing term which
supposedly means genuine or traditional flamenco.
On the other hand however, the concept of pure flamenco
implies interpretations that are old, static and
without change. Although it may suit the older aficionados
who fondly reminisce about the good old days, the
term nevertheless carries with it an unwelcome hint
of snobbery. Paco De Lucia puts it like this;People
tend to confuse the pure with the old. The old for
me is the art in the museum, and the pure is what
the artist feels at the time of playing. Flamenco
has too much personality, character and emotive
force to stay in the same form all its life.
(Guitar International Magazine, April 1976)
A pretty pink bird which has absolutely nothing to do with
the subject of Flamenco. Other common mis-pronunciations
are 'flaminco' and 'flamengo'. Flamenco - origin
of the word.
A guitar playing technique. Also known as a 'tirando' stroke.
After plucking a string, the finger follows through
to clear the adjacent lower string.
Hard, or loud.
A traditional folk dance in the region of Galicia and Asturuis
in the north of Spain. This is not considered flamenco.
Sabicas decided to sneak this one into his guitar
repertoire with the title Piropo A Galicia. Piropo
means compliment or flattery. The dance is kept
alive in local festivals of the region.
(Song and dance form) A sensuous and happy song and dance
in 2/4 time. Like the Farruca, it originated in
Northern Spain. Also like the Farruca, it has slow
sensuous sections, sudden stops and starts, and
sections which start slow and build up to a furious
Spanish name for female Gypsy
Spanish name for male Gypsy
Tapping plate. Protective plastic sheet attached to the
face of the guitar.
The tapping on the top of the guitar with the tip of the
'a' or 'am' fingers. In musical notation, the golpe
is represented as a cross or a small square.
(SONG FORM. TOQUE LIBRE) The word implies 'something from
Granada'. The name Granaínas, which is simply
the Andalucian pronunciation of the same word, is
also commonly used. Granadina is normally played
in the B Phrygian mode, which is ideal for producing
the rich, oriental sounding passages that characterize
this introspective flamenco form. MEDIA Granadina
means 'half Granadina' and relates to the style
of cante. For the solo guitarist there is no difference.
(Song and dance form) Originating in Cuba, the Guajiras
was brought into Spain in the 16th century by the
returning Conquistadors. This cheeky dance form
is normally played in the key of A major and notated
with alternating measures of 6/8 and 3/4. The 12
beat compás is identical to Bulerias, but
much slower. Guajiras is one of the more uplifting
flamenco forms and a classy showpiece in any solo
guitarist's repertoire. The words Guajira (singular)
and Guajiras (plural) are commonly interchangable
and mean exactly the same thing.
Gitano Gypsies played a major role in the development of
flamenco. It's generally agreed that they originated
in the area of Northern India and Pakistan. There
are those who maintain that Gypsies reached Andalucia
from Egypt after sailing along the coast of Africa.
In their wanderings they traveled far and wide and
made a home for themselves in many countries including
the Middle East. Since there were no real records
to prove or disprove their true origins, Egyptian
Gypsies themselves came to believe they were descended
from the Pharaohs.Traditionally, they worked as
blacksmiths, horse traders, musicians, dancers and
fortunetellers. Although they also worked at other
jobs such as bar tending or helping out in the bullrings,
Andalucian Gypsies generally lived a day at a time.
Flamencosongs reflect centuries of hardship. Perhaps
this might explain why some of the singing can sound
more like a tortured primal scream than a song.
Read the complete esssay.
Bridge bone in the saddle of the guitar
Departure. To take leave. Dance steps that signify an approaching
change from one rhythm to another as when a dancer
moves out of Alegrías and enters into Bulerias.
Index finger. Right hand guitar notation symbol - indicated
by a lower case 'i'.
(SONG FORM) An offshoot of Fandango Grande, it is closely
related to the Malagueñas. The Jaberas is
supposed to be Toque Libre, without compás
and un-danceable. As if to confuse the issue, Carmen
Amaya claimed that her grandfather introduced the
Jabera as a dance form. She called it a kind of
Soleá. So be it! Why not throw one more contradiction
into the bucket of flamenco mysteries.
Shouts of encouragement. A person doing this is called a
JALEADOR (male) or JALEADORA (female). These players
also provide rhythmic effects such as palmas (hand
clapping) and pitos (finger snaps) and act as a
sort of cheer squad for the up front performers.(HELL-AYE-OS)
A festive binge of drinking and merrymaking.
The lyrics of a song. A section of a dance equivalent to
a verse of a song.
This is a geographical area stretching from Almeria in eastern
Andalucia up around to Valencia. This area gives
its name to the so called Cantes de Levante (songs
of the Levante). These are MINERA, TARANTA, MURCIANA
In musical notation, this is the same as the Italian word
'Legato'. It means tie or bind together. A slur.
(Song and dance form) This song evolved from being a Toná
Liviana, a song without accompaniment or compás,
to a style with guitar accompaniment performed to
the compás of Siguiriyas.
Call. This is a series of steps which alert the guitarist
that the dancer wishes to end a section, or an entire
1) (Regional style) (Song and dance form) These danceable,
lighthearted songs evolved from the Verdiales and
have a similar rhythm and form. According to Juan
Serrano, the well known semi-classical Malagueña
by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona is based on
the regional style of Malagueña. Donn Pohren
however, believes it was influenced by the Flamenco
style. What can I say? Take your pick. 2) (flamenco
style) (Song form. Cante jondo. Toque libre) This
style of Malagueñas was created and developed
by singers such as Juan Breva, and became very popular
in the café cantante circuit in the late
19th century. Unlike the happy and lively style
of the regional Malagueña, this freer style
has a melancholy mood about it.
Hammer. A rarely used alternative meaning the same as GOLPE.
Hammer stroke. This is a variation of the supported stroke
(rest stroke) in guitar playing. While the rest
stroke is executed with a curved finger, which flexes
straight at the first two joints while playing a
note, the martillo stroke begins with a straight
finger and snaps down forcefully to the next lower
string. The result is a strong sound of much greater
volume than the traditional classical style rest
Songs of the blacksmiths. Songs accompanied by the sound
of the blacksmiths hammer (martillo ) striking the
anvil.See also TONAS
Guitar neck, handle.
Half. Middle finger. Right hand guitar notation symbol -
indicated by a lower case 'm'.
(SONG FORM) This song form originated in Argentina. Played
in 4/4 time in A minor, it is similar in some ways
to the Farruca, except that the falsetas are more
lyrical. It has syncopations and a mood of controlled
passion reminiscent of the Tientos. The compás
is variable: sometimes free, sometimes well defined.
The song modulates from minor to major at certain
times and in places displays distinct rhythmic and
melodic reflections of the Argentinean Tango.
(SONG FORM) The word comes from Minero (miner) and deals
with mining themes as one would expect. It is one
of the group of songs known as cantes de Levante.
(Song and dance form) One of the group of songs known as
Cantiñas. This is in many ways identical
to Alegrías, but lacking the dynamic quality
(Song and dance form) One of the group of songs known as
cantes de Levante.
An exclamation of approval or encouragement. Probably from
the word 'Allah'.
Paco de Lucía
Paco de Lucía was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez on
December 21st, 1947 in Algeciras, a sea port in Cádiz. He
was surrounded by flamenco song and dance since
he was born. He was already familiar with compás
when his father began teaching him to play the guitar
at the age of seven. Between 1962 and 1964 he toured
the United States, along with his brother Pepe,
with the Jose Greco Dance Company. There he met
the great virtuosos Sabicas and Mario Escudero.
Sabicas encouraged him to develop his own ideas.
His greatest influence however was Niño Ricardo
whose style he imitated from an early age. Since
his first recording in 1960 with his brother Pepe,
he has gone on to record many ground-breaking albums.
All of his solo albums (and those with his sextet
and the singer Camaron) are full of musical innovations
which others soon began imitating, spawning a whole
new generation of young virtuosos. His collaborations
with non-flamenco artists such as John Mclaughlin,
Al Di Meola, Chick Corea and Bryan Adams allowed
him to extend his musical horizons even further.
His amazing virtuosity and unprecedented popularity
as an international artist have elevated him to
almost messiah-like status in the eyes of many of
Hand clapping. Various terms are used to describe loud or
soft clapping. FUERTES: (loud, strong) or SECO:
(dry) or CLARO: (clear) SORDAS: (soft). From the
word sordo meaning muted or muffled
Palo means stick. A Palo seco is unaccompanied singing,
except for the rhythmic beating of a stick or walking
cane on the ground. It also means a flamenco style.
There are around 50 palos split roughly into 4 family
groups. For example, Soleá, Alegrías,
Bulerías are palos.
Walk. A walking step that connects two sections in a dance.
Walk. A walking step that connects two sections
in a dance. The dancer may walk around striking
arrogant poses without losing the timing in the
steps. It is also the opening ceremony at a bullfight.
(SONG AND DANCE FORM.
CANTE JONDO) The general mood of this form is one
of sadness. The slow measured rhythm is notated
in alternating bars of 6/8 and 3/4 like Guajiras.
Also like the Guajiras, its 12 beat compás
is identical to the Bulerias, but very much slower.The
name is taken from the village of Paterna de Rivera,
near Jerez de la Frontera. The superstitious legend connected
with its origin endows Peteneras with a certain
mystique. According to this legend, a beautiful
young prostitute called Dolores died a violent death
at the hands of one of her lovers. For some authors,
the word prostitute is a little severe and they
prefer a more poetic description such as, a beautiful
young temptress who stole men's hearts. After her
death, songs were created around the story. The
superstition surrounding Peteneras is directly connected
with the misfortunes that followed later public
performances.One account is of a dancer who played
the part of Petenera and died a choreographed death
on stage, following the story line from the legend.
The four male dancers involved in the show carried
her off stage on their shoulders singing, La
Petenera has died and they are taking her to be
buried... Backstage they discovered that the dancer
really was dead, apparently from a heart attack.
Every year in July, the people in the village of
Paterna pay homage to this form of cante and to
Dolores by hosting a national Peteneras song competition.
There are some who believe that Peteneras was originally
a song of the Sephardic Jews. The evidence comes
from a verse which makes reference to a beautiful
Jewess on her way to a synagogue. This would date
the song back as far as 1492, which is when the
Jews (and the synagogues) disappeared from Spain.
A guitar playing technique. Playing scale passages by alternating
the index and middle fingers. Normally executed
apoyando (with rest strokes)..
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANTE JONDO) Exactly the same as Caña
and Soleá, except for it's distinct melodic
line. The ay ay ayes are also a different length.
Toe of the shoe.
Arriba means up or above. Without actually naming a specific
key, the term 'por arriba' is taken to mean a flamenco
key based on the E chord. The word 'arriba' alludes
to the physical position of the hand on the finger
board. The hand reaches 'up' towards the bass strings
to play an E chord.
Medio means middle or half. The term 'por medio' is taken
to mean a flamenco key based on the A chord. The
hand position for this chord is 'around the middle'
of the finger board.
Bridge of the guitar.
Thumb. Right hand guitar notation symbol for both flamenco
and classical music - indicated by a upper case
Ramon Montoya (1880-1949) was a Madrid born gypsy and is
best known for his creativity and virtuosity. He
is considered a pioneer of the flamenco guitar,
much like Segovia was for the classical guitar.He
was the first tocaor to create a repertoire for
flamenco guitar as a solo instrument, the first
time he played alone in front of a big audience
was in Paris in 1934). In this way the flamenco
guitar became a lead instrument, not just an accompaniment
to the voice. Echos of his original falsetas are
still played today.Since then Ramon Montoya generated
an unstoppable interest in flamenco guitar and its
new technical and compositive possibilities. He
was the first to introduce musical virtuosity to
the world of flamenco.He is credited for introducing
the five stroke tremolo and arpegio techniques into
the flamenco playing style as well as creating the
guitar solo form Rondeña. (from
Also called Rasguedo. From Rascar, meaning to scratch. Right
hand strumming technique.(RAH-AY-OH)
A series of four or five beats compressed into one or two
beats. Redobles can be used anywhere in the dance
to provide dynamic accents. They are commonly used
in a LLAMADA or in the end of a section.
Finish. The closing phrase of a dance.
Also referred to as a 'supported stroke' or 'apoyando stroke'.
The technique of stopping a right hand finger on
the next lowest string after playing. The finger
is arched at the first joint to begin with but straightens
as it plays the string, coming to rest gently on
the adjacent lower string.
The ROMA. Gypsy language word for the Gypsy race(s).
The Gypsy word for the original (non-Spanish) Gypsy language.
(Song and dance form) One of the group of songs known as
Cantiñas. Almost identical to Alegrías.
Like the Mirabrás, Romeras was probably artificially
conceived and created to add variety to the repertoire
of songs sung in the Café Cantante of the
late 19th century.
(1) (Song and dance form) These are songs from the mountainous
area of Ronda, in Málaga. If Verdiales are
the fandangos of Málaga, then Rondenas are
the of Ronda. There are those who believe the name
comes from the word 'Rondar', which means 'to patrol'
or 'to prowl around'. In this context, Rondenas
were probably originally the songs of young men
serenading their loved ones from beneath their windows.
For the guitarist, the rhythm and chord sequence
of Rondenas are identical to Verdiales. This traditional
song form has no connection with the guitar solo
Rondeña of Ramon Montoya.
(2) (TOQUE LIBRE) A musical form created specifically for
the guitar by Ramon Montoya. He is said to have
developed it from yet another form called Rondenas
which is different to the one described in the previous
definition. Are you confused yet? If you haven't
been keeping count, this makes three very different
classifications of Rondenas.
(3) (Song and dance form) This third one is believed to
have been the toque of the bandits who practiced
their trade in the mountains near Ronda. This obscure
musical form is rhythmically reminiscent of the
Taranto. In recent times, Ramon Montoya's Rondeña
has developed from a purely musical form to one
which is also sung and danced.
(Song and dance form) A popular rhythm originating in the
sugar and banana plantations of Cuba. The gypsy
adaptation is called Rumba Gitana (gypsy rumba),
or more commonly, Rumba Flamenca. This is a lively,
festive dance in 4/4 which is good humored and tastefully
seductive in nature. The guitarist borrows the rhythmic
slapping techniques from the South American style
of playing. The Rumba, in all it's various styles,
is very popular with guitarists. Paco de Lucía's
early recording of a Rumba, Entre dos Aguas (between
two waters), was largely responsible for bringing
him to the attention of the wider, non-flamenco
public. The Gypsy Kings, although not considered
a flamenco group, have built their entire career
around the Rumba Flamenca styles.
Sabicas was one of the greatest guitarists of all time and
a legend in his own lifetime. With his dazzling
speed, clean technique and musical creativity he
had it all. He was born Agustin Castellon in Pamplona
in 1912. He started playing the guitar at the age
of 5. The story on an old record sleeve relates
how his mother took him to a local music teacher
who was deeply offended by the fact the poor kid
could not put together a decent scale. They were
told to leave and never come back. The result is
that he taught himself. His family moved to Madrid
a few years later where he began his artistic career
using the phonetic form of his nickname 'las habicas'
(little beans). He was very fond of broard beans
and always had a pocketful. Between 1925 and 1935
he played all over Spain and then went with his
family to Buenos Aires, where he caught up with
Carmen Amaya. They originally met when they were
children in Barcelona. They performed together during
the next decade and when Miss Amaya returned to
Spain in 1945, Sabicas stayed in Latin America for
another ten years. In 1955 he moved into the Spanish
speaking district of Manhatten, New York, three
bocks from his cousin Mario Escudero. By 1982, he
was not able to recall how many records he had made
("fifty two, fifty three, something like that").
He died in 1990, leaving behind a legacy of unmistakable
brilliance and inspiring artistry. Adapted from
an article by Paul
Magnussen - Guitar International magazine, 1982.
Folk dance. No connection with the flamenco form Siguiriyas.
(Song and dance form) Serranas was probably originally a
19th century folk song. It made it's way into the
flamenco repertoire courtesy of the famous singer
Silverio. It is a style of song-story with the same
compás as Siguiriyas and is related to Livianas
and Caña. Its verses tell of life in the
mountains among the bandits and smugglers. It is
danced in a similar style to the Siguiriyas.
(Song and dance form) A Castilian folkloric dance adopted
as the regional dance of Seville. The Sevillanas
originated from the 19th century style of classical
dance known as Seguidillas Boleras. Going even further
back, the Boleras evolved from the dance form known
as Seguidilla s Manchegas, popularized in the southern
Castilian region of La
Mancha (Don Quixote country).Sevillanas is a popular
festive dance all over Andalucia. It evolved into
a structured format consisting of a group of four
short dances. Within each dance there is a melodic
theme which is sung (or played) three times. These
four dances are called coplas, or verses and they
each end with a sudden stop as the dancers strike
Seville. Regional capital of Andalucia.
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANTE JONDO) The word may be a gypsy
dialect variation of the word Seguidilla, a classical
Castilian folk dance. These two dance forms have
absolutely nothing in common with each other except
for this historical accident of similar sounding
names.Siguiriyas is dark, mournful and desolate
in character. It is considered the greatest test
of a singer's ability. The reaction of the uninitiated
to hearing a deeply felt Siguiriya sung at close
range would probably be to step back a few paces
and cover the ears. From the guitarist's perspective,
it has a counting structure which may be difficult
to grasp at first. If you were counting around a
12 beat cycle, the counting would start at 8 in order to preserve the basic accent sequence of
3, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Since the traditional playing
key is the same as Buleria, this allows the guitarist
the option of modifying a falseta from one and adapting
it to fit the other.
Literally, silence. Strictly speaking it describes any section
in a performance when the guitar remains silent,
such as when a dancer builds up speed in his or
her footsteps. Silencio also traditionally refers
to a section in Alegrías, which is played
in a minor key at a much slower pace. It may be
characterized by slow and dramatic sweeps of the
thumb across the strings to imitate the sound of
campanas (bells). The silencio in Alegrías
therefore could more correctly be called campanas
(bells) for this reason.
A method of designating the musical notes in a major scale
which dates back to the 11th century. The notes
C, D, E, F, G, A, B are called Doh, Re, Mi, Fah,
Sol, La, Si. The English version uses 'Te' instead
of 'Si' for the note 'B'. This system is sometimes
used in books on flamenco, either on it's own, or
beside the 'ABC' system. Various cultures may refer
to this method of ear training and sight reading
as Solmization, Solfege or Solfeggio.
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANTE JONDO) Soleá is often
referred to as the mother of flamenco because other
important forms such as Alegrías and Bulerías
are derived from it. The name is derived from the
word soledad, which means lonliness or solitude
and reflects the general mood of this song form.
The words Soleá (singular) and Soleares (plural)
are commonly interchangable and mean exactly the
Soleá por arriba
Aribba means 'up' or 'from above'. This is a traditional
reference to the upper playing position. This would
be a Soleá played in the 'E Phrygian' mode
using the E Major chord (upper fret board) position.
Because this is the traditional and assumed key
for Soleá, the 'por Arriba' reference is
ignored. It would normally only be relevant when
a singer wants to indicate to the guitarist that
this is the key most suited to his vocal range.
Soleá por Bulerias
This is a hybrid form combining elements of both Soleá
and Buleria with a speed somewhere in between. It
should not be thought of as a faster Soleá
or a slower Buleria. It has it's own character and
dynamic 'feel' about it. The compás is the
same as Bulerias (starting on 12), and the guitar
chords are similar to Soleá. Soleá
por Buleria, like Soleá, can end with a section
of 'straight' Bulerías.
Soleá por medio
Medio means 'middle'. This is a traditional reference to
the middle playing position. This would be a Soleá
played in the 'A Phrygian' mode, using the A Major
chord (middle fret board) position.
Soft, or muffled hand claps.
A low stage. Also a nightclub or café where flamenco
Drum. A drum like effect produced by pulling on the 6th
string downwards so it ends up resting against the
5th sting on the treble side. This sounds very much
like a snare drum when playing a rasgueado. Another
drum like effect can be produced by bouncing the
length of the thumb off the strings close to the
(Song and dance form) A lively, infectious dance in 4/4.
Although it is generally performed in a light style,
it has an inherent, yet subtle tone of seriousness
about it. While some believe it has connections
to the Argentinean Tango, others emphatically insist
it is of purely gypsy origin, having distinct similarities
to the Tientos. Arguments about whether Tientos
came before Tangos or vice versa are best left to
musicologists and purists. Tangos is one of the
most impressive and dynamic dance forms and like
Buleria, is nurtured and developed as a show piece
to be performed near the end of a performance.
Means little tango. A light, cheeky aire developed in Cádiz
from the Tango.
The top of the guitar. Soundboard.
The Arabic equivalent of flamenco's Duende, a state of ecstasy
brought on by the singing. They would break jars
on their heads, rip their clothing, and roll about
on the ground. Wow! These Arabs really knew how
to party. (paraphrased
from the magazine: JALEO - VOLUME VIII, No. 1) FLAMENCO:
THE EARLY YEARS by Paco Sevilla.
(SONG FORM. CANTE JONDO. TOQUE LIBRE) Taranta is the song
form of the miners. Originating in the province
of Almeria, these songs are also associated with
the neighboring provinces of Jaen and Murcia. Tarantas
reflects a sense of tragedy, deprivation and sorrow.
The dark sounding discordant melodies and open chords
used in Tarantas give it a distinctive Oriental
character. This doesn't mean Chinese. In flamenco
speak, the word Oriental is taken to mean Arabic.
The world is full of wonders, is it not?
(Song and dance form) A danceable form of Tarantas with
a steady compás in 2/4 time.
Rapidly alternating heelwork executed without body movement
and producing a trembling sound.
Tempering, tuning. The vocal warm up at the beginning of
a song consisting of repeated ayes. This is so the
singer can tune his or her voice to the guitar,
and also to get into the mood and rhythm of the
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANE JONDO) Tiento means touch. Those
who believe that Tientos came before Tangos would
probably say something like; If Soleá is
the mother of flamenco, then Tientos is the father.Tientos
is usually notated in 2/4. It has a character which
is jondo, majestic and sensual, and much slower
than the tangos. It is normally played in the A
Phrygian mode. Although the compás is the
same as tangos, some beats are prolonged and others
are cut short. This can look really messy and confusing
in music notation. The best way to learn the compás
of Tientos is by listening and imitation.
Tientos por zambra
(Song and dance form) This is a faster version of Tientos.
This is normally notated in 4/4.
This means 'pulling'. Same as the classical style 'free
Male flamenco guitar player
Female flamenco guitar player
To touch. With music it means to play.
(SONG FORM. CANTE JONDO) From the word Tonada, meaning tune
or popular song. They are widely believed to be
the earliest flamenco song forms. Included in this
group are the MARTINETES (songs of the blacksmiths),
CARCELERAS (songs of the prisoners), DEBLA (of obscure
origin) and perhaps even an early form of Siguiriyas.
Tonás are song-stories that were neither
played of danced. They were sung 'a palo seco',
which means unaccompanied except perhaps with the
rhythmic beating of a palo (stick) on the ground.
In the case of the Martinetes, the song would be
accompanied by the sound of a blacksmith's hammer
striking an anvil.
Tone or key
1. Guitar playing. 2. Flamenco interpretation on the guitar.
3. A flamenco form or specific piece, such as Alegrías.
This is a guitar term which means to play freely, without
compás or time signature. Most toque libre
are derived from the FANDANGO GRANDE and include
Malagueña, Granadinas, TARANTAS and Rondeña.
There may be passages within any toque libre, which
follow some sort of compás for a while, at
the discretion of the guitarist, before returning
to a freer mood. This style of playing lends itself
well to improvised experiments in melody and rhythm
as a piece progresses.
A guitar playing technique. A bass note is played, followed
by three or four strokes of a single treble note,
giving the illusion of two instruments playing together.
The classical guitar style tremolo 'pima', uses
4 notes to the beat, pulgar (thumb), anular, middle
and index fingers. The flamenco tremolo commonly
has 5 notes to the beat and uses the sequence of:
'piami'. Ramon Montoya is credited with introducing
this technique. It may also be successfully executed
with the sequence: 'pmami'.
A genre of Spanish song, dating from the 15th century. It
is a poetic and musical form and was sung with or
without accompanying instruments. Originally a folk
song, frequently with a devotional song or love
poem as text, it developed into an art music genre.
The Villancico of the 17th century has a sacred
text, often for Christmas. In the 18th century this
form expanded into a dramatic cantata with arias
and choruses. In the 20th century the use of the
term is restricted to the Spanish Christmas carol.
Although not real flamenco, it would not be unusual
to see this song form on a flamenco recording.
(Song and dance form) A lighthearted style of Fandangos
from Málaga which takes its name from a village
called Los Verdiales. It is Málaga's equivalent
to Fandangos de Huelva , performed at a slower pace
with the accent on the first beat of every bar.
Verdiales is considered to be folklore and thought
to be the oldest existing Fandangos in Andalucia.There
are two types of Verdiales. The 'regional' Verdiales
is the folkloric style accompanied by tambourines,
violins and other instruments as well as the guitar.
The 'flamenco' Verdiales is accompanied only by
(Song and dance form) An old Andalucian folk song in 3/4
time which seems to have sneaked it's way into the
flamenco repertoire. The distinctive melody line
is preserved by the few artists who have recorded
it. Paco de Lucia for one, has recorded a couple
of different versions. It also frequently appears
in sheet music published in the 1950's. Like the
modern recordings, the interpretations are different
but the melody line remains unaltered.
(Song and dance form) A festive dance of the gypsies of
Granada. This is one of the most typically gypsy
flamenco dances. It is notated in 4/4, with accents
on the first and third beats. Zambra is Arabic for
'flute'. It was originally a lively Moorish dance
and dates back to the 15th century. It is closely
related to both the Tientos and the Tangos, with
a speed somewhere in the middle. Juan Serrano prefers
to call the Zambra Tientos por Tangos because it
is, in effect, a combination of the two styles.The
distinction should be made between the Zambra and
the very Arabic sounding Danza Mora. To be sure,
they are both Moorish dances by definition, but
the distinction is very clear. The Zambra, although
developed from a style of Moorish dance, is pure
gypsy flamenco. The Danza Mora on the other hand,
bends over backwards to sound Arabic. The confusion
arises when an recording artist labels an Arabic
sounding composition 'Zambra' or 'Zambra Mora'.
This would sound nothing like the gypsy Zambra one
might be expecting. Strangely, the same does not
seem to occur in reverse. A Zambra is apparently
always a Zambra, and can never be confused with
1. (DANCE FORM) An ancient virtuoso dance for both men and
women involving a lot of fancy heel work, as well
as many sudden stops and starts and accelerating
passages. At times, the melody matches the footsteps.
The dancer and guitarist must be perfectly synchronized
at all times and great skill is required from both.
2. Footwork. An interplay of heel, toe and sole
to produce elaborate sounding rhythms.
This is an old folk song resurrected by Garcia Lorca. In
recent years it has quietly made it's way into the
flamenco repertoire. It has a 12 beat compás
and sounds almost like a sensual, more lyrical version
of Peteneras. Near the end it takes on the compás
of Bulerias. This sequence of slow and fast may
also be alternated. Paco Peña plays a Zorongo
on his album Fabulous Flamenco.