Learn Flamenco Guitar - 10 Easy Steps
Compared to flamenco dance teachers... Flamenco Guitar Teachers are harder to locate online and for those who want to learn flamenco guitar in Australia, the top navigation (by City) is there to make that task a whole lot easier.Rather than repeat myself by listing them all again here, I will devote this article to learning flamenco guitar online. Covering a shortlist of the best courses, online lessons, classes and tutorials for Flamenco Guitar.But first I will outline a basic checklist of 10 easy steps for absolute beginners.
The GuitarAny acoustic nylon string guitar will do until your sound is worthy of a true Flamenco Guitar which is lighter, shorter, made of Spanish cypress and spruce, the strings are closer to the finger board and it generally has a crisper, more percussive sound. This brighter sound can also be sharpened by using a capo (crucial if your want the guitar melody to rise above palmas and percussion). Flamenco guitars often come with a protective tap plate above or/and below the strings. Many flamenco guitarists develop a string formula mixing brands and string types for a specific sound.
The NailsGrow your nails long-ish (just above the tip of your skin finger) on your strumming hand, as you progress you will learn to shape them so that they are long enough to catch the strings but make a nice sound as they roll off and let go, angled to match the alignment of the hand position with the strings. The nails on your fret hand (left) are best left short.
TuningThe number one skill to work on... If you can't tune a guitar, commit to mastering this skill!!! You can start with a guitar tuner but you really need to learn relative tuning where you tune the fifth string to A - 440hz concert pitchand then you tune all the other strings relative to 5th string:
E - Tune the 6th string 5th fret to the open A 5th string
A - Already in tune using a tuning fork or reference note
D - Tune the 4th string open to the 5th string 5th fret
G - Tune the 3rd string open to the 4th string 5th fret
B - Tune the 2nd string open to the 3rd string 4th fret
E - Tune the 1st string open to the 2nd string 5th fret
The ChordsTo begin with you just need to learn about four chords and practice switching between them without breaking a consistent rhythm.In the key of E (por arriba) master Am, G, F, E and then continue later to add E7, G7, G6, C and Fmaj7 to your repertoire, then A, Bb, Dm when you switch to the key of A (por medio).
The StrummingLearn a basic Rasguedo (flicking the fingers out independently across the strings of a particular chord creating a percussive hit on the notes, start with just the index finger down stroke 1-2-3_1-2-3_1-2-rest, then add the more complex flick-out of each finger, an occasional tap on the guitar with your nail alternating with index finger down-strokes and eventually working up to repeating the flick outs in a rolling motion) .Eg: [1-2-3]_[1-2-3]_[1-2-rest]_[3 or 4 finger rasgueado] each bracket being a count of three.
There are many different rasgueados to progress to:
4 Finger Rasgueado
3 Finger Rasgueado
1 Finger Rasgueado
2 Finger Rasgueado
Avinico Rasgueado #1 A 3 propeller fan rasgueado cycling a thumb upstroke, ring finger downstroke, and an index finger downstroke.
Avinico Rasgueado #2 Cycling a thumb upstroke, middle finger downstroke, and a thumb downstroke.
Eventually you will also need to learn:
Tremolo (picking individual strings with individual fingers in quintuplets - five notes to one beat - starting with the thumb on a bass note and followed by index, ring, middle an index finger again on a treble note then repeating the tremolo with a different bass note).
Alzapua (a thumb technique using the nail of your thumb as a pick, one down stroke from the lowest sounding note in the chord, one strong upstroke, and one single note on a bass string corresponding to the next down stroke your about to play).Basically a lot of practice to develop independence and flexibility in your fingers.
Percussive TappingMaster a basic 3 chord strumming rhythm that combines the Rasguedo, Alzupua and Tremolo with a Golpe (a percussive finger tap on the sound board, above or below the strings). I highly recommend Sal's Rumba Lesson on Youtube, he is Australian and very generous with his information.
The ScalesWhen you can hold a basic flamenco rhythm its time to learn a simple melody based on either the Phrygian or the Phrygian Dominant scale and played using the Picado technique (playing single string scale passages with lots of attack). Once you know a scale you can improvise within it and work your way up to some more interesting falsetas.To simplify things, the Tab Chart above only shows three different scale exercises with the Phrygian Dominant Scale; Black, Blue and Red. The bottom string on the chart is actually the top or 6th string on your guitar. Pick one exercise and pluck each string alternating your index and middle fingers, working up the scale and back down. Eg: 4th position, play the blue notes up from #1 to #12 and then back down to #1 (E - 5th string 7th fret).
The FormsMany people think Flamenco is a rhythm or a particular style of song (Cante), often comparing it to a Tango. However, flamenco consists of over 50 different Palos (forms, styles and dances), amongst guitarist this is refered to as the Toque. These can be categorized according to Compas (timing or rhythmic structure). You need to choose one of these to master as a beginner, learning flamenco guitar. Below are two entry level compas to choose from. Begin simply with Palmas (hand clapping every beat with accents on the bold).
A Rumba FlamencoFour beats to the bar and the accents are on the 2nd and 4th beats.1 2 3 4advancing to a Tangos...* _ - 2 & 3 - 4 -* Notice the 1 is silent and the accents are on the 2, 3 & 4 but as a clapping exercise just sound out the 2, the &, and the 4 (all marked in bold), you can mark the 1 with your foot.
A Basic Solea (Soleares)Twelve beats to the bar and the accents are on the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th beats.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12Best explained by splitting a clock face into two halves, the first half is then split into 1-2-3, 1--23 and the second half is split into 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 (2 lots of 3 and then 3 lots of 2)The Solea can advance into more complex rhythms, combinations and also includes other forms like the Alegrias and the Bulerias.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 121 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 121 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Each of the forms, in turn, has a defined structure. As a flamenco guitarists you need to know the basics of these structures and what the dancer and singing is doing during each segment. You don't play fancy falsetas over the letras (lyrics) you go back to your basic chords and then there are times when the dancer will set the pace. The guitarists is sandwiched in between, taking the key from the singer and the rhythm and tempo from the dancer, it is the guitarists job to bind everything together together.
Watch and LearnWatch and listen to lots of flamenco music and spend some time with the many free Youtube videos by searching for "Learn Flamenco Guitar" or by watching all 58 free flamenco lessons by Mario Amaya on Expert Village. As a beginner you simply need to learn one version of each of the major palos; a Sevillanas, Bulerías, Alegrias, Tangos, Siguiriya, Solea and maybe throw in a farruca.
Buy an Online CourseGet some professional lessons locally but supplement them with one of the better online courses for Learning to Play flamenco guitar.
[ad name="googleadt"]Once you conquer a Tangos, a Soleares, a Bulerias, an Alergrias and a Sevillanas. The best thing you can do is volunteer your time once a week with a Flamenco Dance Class. You don't need to be a flamenco guitar genius, just hold a basic and steady rhythm in each of those major forms (a beginners flamenco dance teacher will only focus on one at a time). When you start working with a flamenco dance teacher, just be extra respectful of when she/he is talking, when a teacher talks to the class you stop playing and wait for the nod to come back in.Flamenco dancers start on the twelve (12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11), do a lot of percussive footwork and when not dancing they often do Palmas. Working with dance instructors will slowly expose you the full flamenco experience; Guitar, Cajon, Palmas, Cante and Dance. They also get invited to perform small 15 minute gigs for private functions and are always on the look out for a guitarist who can provide accompaniment for three different Palos.
"Working With Dancers Is The Best Thing You Can Do When Your Learning Flamenco Guitar"
Finally, and just because you made it this far, I will leave you with:
From flamenco great Paco Peña
12 beats to the bar
Played in E phrygian
To learn flamenco guitar you just need to work your way through these 10 steps and stick at it!!! Lock in a rock solid practice schedule every day. There is enough practice here to last you months.