Flamenco Guitar Accompaniment

Euphoric feeling of playing flamenco guitar with dancer, guitar, palmas and cante.

Flamenco guitar started as accompaniment for songs or cantes like soleares, Flamenco guitar accompanimenttarantos, seguirilla, tientos and many more. All these songs, their corresponding lyrics and dances are related, like an extended family, identified by their rhythmic patterns or compas, melodies, harmonies or musical keys and emotional themes. Palo is the Spanish word for the different flamenco musical forms. Anyone playing flamenco guitar is playing one of these specific flamenco forms, known as palos. No matter how technically refined Flamenco guitar playing has become, even flamenco guitar virtuosos like Paco de Lucia or the late Sabicas, famous for their solo work, would probably define flamenco in terms of cante rather than of guitar technique. In his time, the late and legendary Sabicas recommended flamenco guitarists, tempted to become soloists, to spend 20 years accompanying singing and dancing, before thinking about playing solo flamenco guitar. Flamenco guitar accompaniment is based on strong right hand articulation and rhythmic precision. Compared to flamenco guitar solo work, one might have the impression that Flamenco guitar accompaniment is less complicated and more modest, focused on complying with the rhythms, but actually it is challenging today’s most talented flamenco guitarists. When examined in detail, flamenco guitar accompaniment clearly demonstrates that highly developed flamenco guitar skills are required. To stay emotionally synchronized, to stay in compas and to match the singer's vocal, using a cejilla or capo, are the most important rules of flamenco guitar accompaniment. Flamenco singers and dancers might tolerate some incorrect guitar tones or chords, but when playing hesitating, uneven or inconsistent rhythms, they will not be forgiving.

Flamenco guitar accompaniment is much more than just playing chords in rhythm. Accompanying flamenco guitarists often play a falseta Flamenco guitar singing accompanimentat the beginning of a piece to initiate the tempo and atmosphere of a piece. In some parts of a specific palo, like Solea or Alegrías, the flamenco guitarist is invited to play solid, melodic harmonic patterns, called escobillas, giving the dancer a solid foundation for solo footwork. As the singer or dancer prepare themselves for their next letra or footwork, the flamenco guitarist is confined to keep the rhythm going, playing only a few sensitive, inspiring chords. So while the rhythm of flamenco music keeps on going, the flamenco guitar playing is to be suspended, resumed and built up on different moments within the rhythm. In palos like Bulerías, the flamenco guitarist and dancer share, accentuate and synchronize rhythms. When a flamenco cantaor or singer starts singing flamenco letras, the accompanying flamenco guitarist needs to be familiar with the corresponding harmony and the chords within that palo associated with these letras. When the flamenco singer modifies or builds up specific letras, spontaneously the guitarist has to change his playing accordingly.