Sal's flamenco soapbox

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Flamenco glossary




A palo seco

Dry stick. Unaccompanied singing, except for the rhymic beating of an upright stick on the ground.

An enthusiast follower, fan, amateur.

Air. 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 plectrum.

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 guitar

A musical term. A chord broken up into a series of single notes.

To drag. Guitar playing technique. Dragging the ring finger (a) up the strings from treble to bass.

Male dancer

Female dancer


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.




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