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Flamenco glossary




Ramon Montoya
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.

Rest stroke
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. (ROM-NESH)

(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 a pose.

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 same thing.

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.




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