Dear Paul and Esteemed Friends,The 8th Day of the 30th Edition of the Córdoba Guitar Festival was most memorable for two reasons, what happened in class, and the historic recital of “La Mujer de la Guitarra Flamenca,” Celia Morales.
I began the day assuming I was to go upstairs to Maestro Sanlúcar’s class, so I arrived there early and was rehearsing my composition until he walked by and told me I was in the wrong class. I can only say here, that there was something more in that moment that he said before telling me I was in the wrong place that I will leave between the walls of the Palacio de Congresos, and the ears of those who were present. It inspired and humbled me beyond words. I have never been so inspired. Then I gathered my things and went to the class of Manolo Franco where we learned a Bulería por Soleá that showed all of us why Maestro Sanlúcar has called Manolo Franco the world’s greatest flamenco guitarist.Then, each student in the alto level of the course played their compositions for Manolo Franco. The class is focused on rhythmic flamenco forms. The room was frigid, it was early, and all of the guitarists showed their poise as each delivered high level performances, except me, I was nervous, and fumbled a bit where I was normally self-assured and Manolo Franco did not have much to say about my performance. So after the break, I went upstairs to the warmer and more spacious room where Maestro Sanlúcar’s class is held. And something strange happened, I became extremely calm in his presence, and watched a brilliant performance by another student. Then I volunteered to play, and I played the best performance of my entire life in front of him and the students in two highest levels of the course. This is the most stressful environment one can imagine, and I felt out of body at times, I cannot explain it, I felt something special in that place at that moment. I am now at the risk of sounding metaphysical, or a little bit crazy, (Maestro says that “If one is not a little bit crazy, you will create nothing”) but I heard from a close friend that Vicente Amigo was in the Patio of the Palacio de Congresos at the moment I was playing. All I can say is I was first moved, and infected with the love of Flamenco from Paco de Lucía, and then went crazy when I heard Vicente Amigo, and then was certified nuts for flamenco when I heard Maestro Sanlúcar. And at this moment Maestro Sanlúcar showed why he is the Grand Maestro of the flamenco guitar.He expressed that he loved my composition, it was of a very high artistic level, and he liked my performance. But, told me that in places I was leaving the melodic note at the end of a phrase unsupported by a harmony, or a chord. And in another case, he changed my parallel 3rds to 5ths an 6ths. In both cases he said that it was “Como música pobre.”But then he gave me the remedy. That is why I came here. To get my tail kicked. He then demonstrated specific harmonies that were profoundly moving, and very flamenco! Then he showed me that even strong ligado when used to often is not preferable to playing with the lexicon of flamenco techniques, melodic inflections, and most importantly, melodic discourse. Maestro Sanlúcar showed me how to develop, transform, change, and adorn, the themes in my work, and all those that I have written, and will write.I was forever changed. I have been here for four years now and in the course three times, and finally, I played well enough for him, and flamenco enough, to get the best lesson I have ever had in my life from him. He made me play the work again several times, and in detail showed the aforementioned melodic and harmonic secrets of his playing that so changed Vicente Amigo in his formative years. This is why I came here at first, but now I am here only for Maestro Sanlúcar and our esteemed flamenco faculty, but I still wish to meet Vicente desperately, and I have heard many people tell me they see him everywhere on the streets, con la gente, immersed in his own culture, the unique flamenco culture of Córdoba. It does affect your flamenco, being here, immersed in the culture. I have plans to immerse myself in it, that will be publicly revealed soon. And it will only be then that I can complete my training, as Luke Skywalker traveled to the Dagobah System to complete his training with Yoda.I study with Maestro Sanlúcar, because I aspire to know how he has created a sound that from his own intuition, found something new while composing in his house. When he discovered it by intuition, it led him on a search for six months, using all of his knowledge, to compose a theme and justify it within the Greek musical system from which flamenco is most closely related. This system is explained in application in detail on video at the You Tube channel called Flamenco Professor. However, to truly understand it one must study here. This system using the Greek Mixolydian and Greek Hypo-Mixolydian modes for example G# to G# with three sharps in the key signature (resemble our modern Locrian scale, but descending) as the melodic material over an E9 chord, with occasional inflections to other pitches such as, Eb and Bb. This scale can resolve to any of the Seven Flamenco Key Centers, (or other key centers). And then he went off playing and singing from his album with Carmen Linares, and explaining what he does, but not with his mouth… with his fingers.In one unrelated moment he gave a memorable statement at a moment when he was defining for the class what is correct or not correct in respect to the Art and Culture of Flamenco… he held the guitar out away from his body as if to put it right in our faces, and said,
“This… [playing] is where we find the truth, not by speaking”
In a moment from last year’s class when a student asked, “How do I know when my composition, or phrase is flamenco?” Maestro Sanlúcar said, “When a 5 year-old from Jerez says it is.”I have many more, but will ask Maestro Sanlúcar for permission before I share them.Then there was the concert in the evening, Celia Morales. She showed the compositional prowess of one who has studied with Maestro Sanlúcar, and gave a commanding performance. She had a moment in her Tangos where she stopped… seemed to be lost… and shaken… and then humbly asked the audience with respect to start the work again, and delivered her best and she dominated the very same work that had shaken her, and brought the crowd to a roar, and then to their feet! It was extremely moving, and inspiring.I am going to stay home and practice tonight. I have to miss David Russell to do so :(! But there is still work to do that will not end until the hotel staff cuts me off… from playing flamenco :) Hasta Pronto, Corey