Sal's flamenco soapbox

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Flamenco glossary




A low stage. Also a nightclub or café where flamenco is performed.



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 bridge.

(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.

(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 stroke'.

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.

Toque libre
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'.




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