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soclydeza85

 

Posts: 54
Joined: Feb. 27 2017
 

Good beginner pieces 

I'm currently working my way through Gerhard Graf-Martinez's book and am waiting to get through both volumes to get a handle on all of the basic techniques before I start learning some actual songs.

Are there any go-to pieces for flamenco beginners? Also, is there a flamenco version of a fake book?

Also, is flamenco treated more like classical (where the pieces are meant to be played a specific way) or jazz (where there's a basic chord sequence and a head but the rest is free and up to the player's own interpretation), or somewhere in between? I'm new to this style and am not really sure where to go once I learn the basics. Thanks!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 3:43:45
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1765
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Welcome Soclydeza!!

There's nothing like having a good teacher when starting out - particularly for technique.

Solea is a good palo to start with since it's La Madre de Todo Flamenco.

Flamenco guitar is like a box of lego where you've spent hours and years carefully crafting each brick. When you play you can chop and change bricks at will - so long as they fit with what the others are doing and everything stays in compas. So within the constrains of each palo you have a lot of liberty to do what ever you like.

Once you've nailled the basics go to Andalucia and marry a gypsy who sings well.

Good luck & enjoy the journey!!!

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 4:03:29
 
Fitz63

 

Posts: 100
Joined: May 16 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Toques-Flamencos-Book-Paco-Peña/dp/B00HRETHC4

Might be worth a look.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 6:03:07
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1765
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Fitz63

It's a great book, but is aimed at intermediate level guitarists. A begginer will stuggle starting here without a teacher.

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Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 11:41:53
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11082
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

quote:

ORIGINAL: soclydeza85

I'm currently working my way through Gerhard Graf-Martinez's book and am waiting to get through both volumes to get a handle on all of the basic techniques before I start learning some actual songs.

Are there any go-to pieces for flamenco beginners? Also, is there a flamenco version of a fake book?

Also, is flamenco treated more like classical (where the pieces are meant to be played a specific way) or jazz (where there's a basic chord sequence and a head but the rest is free and up to the player's own interpretation), or somewhere in between? I'm new to this style and am not really sure where to go once I learn the basics. Thanks!


There is some danger going after the "easy" flamenco stuff, it ends up not being authentic in a lot of cases. It's better to dive in and learn it as a totally new discipline and consider the basics a challenge from the start. Classical music and some other styles have easy pieces that you graduate from, hoping to get higher and higher level. Flamenco is different. You have two elements only for guitar :compas and falsetas. Compas is rhythm guitar work, falsetas are the more melodic or musical material. Within those smaller confines you will find easy, or more fundamental patterns and techniques to be used, but you never need to go from one full "piece" to another harder one. Perhaps you learn an easy short falseta, and later a more complex or involved one. Further, the music is based on song forms that you can develop vocabulary of compas and falsetas for gradually over time. We never stop learning or creating on any one form, we continually advance and develop both our compas and falsetas. A teacher would hopefully help you get a base upon which you can develop and build on.

Jazz discipline regarding improvisation involves understand standards and their "charts". Technically that is a song form structure too...but the huge difference with flamenco is that we don't improvise on a "chart" structure. Rather we have simpler elements such as only rhythm and tonality, and the improvising we do is more like arranging or creating a chart, or changing the structure of an existing standard. Perhaps its more confusing, but simply put, different musics require different disciplines and you just need to try not to mix the concepts or go against the grains of learning and teaching traditions. Just go with the flow.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 11:57:13
 
gbv1158

 

Posts: 395
Joined: May 29 2009
From: Italy

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Flamenco is different. You have two elements only for guitar :compas and falsetas. Compas is rhythm guitar work, falsetas are the more melodic or musical material. Within those smaller confines you will find easy, or more fundamental patterns and techniques to be used, but you never need to go from one full "piece" to another harder one. Perhaps you learn an easy short falseta, and later a more complex or involved one. Further, the music is based on song forms that you can develop vocabulary of compas and falsetas for gradually over time


...so true!

ciao
giambattista
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 12:20:09
 
Fitz63

 

Posts: 100
Joined: May 16 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Dudnote

Yes, probably true. It's where I went after a Juan Martin instruction book, so I don't know what level the OP would be at. And a teacher! I wish, but it's true that I've probably never done it justice.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 13:21:30
 
Cervantes

 

Posts: 430
Joined: Jun. 14 2014
From: Encinitas, CA USA

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Fitz63

quote:

ORIGINAL: Fitz63

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Toques-Flamencos-Book-Paco-Peña/dp/B00HRETHC4

Might be worth a look.


This is a great book. But it ranges from easy to advanced.
Playing very slow can make the hard stuff easy and improve your technique.

_____________________________

Ah well, there was a fantastic passion there, in my case anyway. I discovered flamenco
very early on. It grips you in a way that you can't get away - Paco Pena
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 14:45:59

Piwin

Posts: 2194
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Ricardo said it all.
No go-to pieces per se. The first falseta I ever learned was a simple pulgar one from PdL's solea "Cuando canta el gallo".
I later went back and learned the whole piece but at the time it would've been way too hard. That one falseta though was perfect for a beginner.

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Chicken crossing
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 15:31:12
 
Fitz63

 

Posts: 100
Joined: May 16 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

There are these too -

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Play-Solo-Flamenco-Guitar-Martin/dp/0786664584

Progressive solos/exercises.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 15:40:18
 
soclydeza85

 

Posts: 54
Joined: Feb. 27 2017
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Thanks for the replies!

I'm not new to guitar (been playing for 22 years) but I'm new to flamenco; so I'm not concerned about the level of the music, per se, but my right hand is my limiting factor at this point. So I guess I should rephrase my question as: are there flamenco "standards" that I should be looking at once I get better with these techniques? I guess part of the problem is that I'm not too familiar with flamenco songs (the sound, yes, but I don't know any specific songs). I know about Paco de Lucia, of course, among other aficionados I've found on YouTube but I'm not sure I should be attempting their kind of stuff right when my right hand is fresh out of the womb.

As for the teacher part, there aren't any near me. I know that Skype lessons are a possibility but I can't afford them at the moment (I've looked into it). I do plan on getting a teacher eventually though, through whatever means possible.

Thanks for those Amazon links, I will look into those!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 22:23:47
 
pink

Posts: 570
Joined: Jan. 8 2013
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Try get your head around the groove.
Feel is the key....Listen to Moraito Chico...he had it going on in spades.
Enjoy !!

Best

pink

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 23:12:21
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1765
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Check out the films from "Rito y Geografía del Cante Flamenco"


also the Puro y Jondo series has a lot of good stuff


Letras for both are available from here
http://canteytoque.es/letras.html
and that site goes into some key palos in great depth
http://canteytoque.es/

There are many youtube chanels with falsettas, for example
https://www.youtube.com/user/chano1919/playlists

There are several threads on the foro dedicated to cante that are a gold mine of information.

Without a teacher you biggest problem will be to develop correct technique and tone. When I started with flamenco after over 15 years of guitar (including classical) one of the first things my teacher said was "I want you to forget everything you know about playing guitar". If you've a classical thumb technique you will need to pay attention that you adapt it so that it sounds flamenco.

Good luck & enjoy!!

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 3 2017 23:33:25
 
mark74

Posts: 690
Joined: Jan. 26 2011
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

If you want some simpler pieces you can find some in Juan Martin's famous book. I memorized a couple of his simple soleas, sevillanas, rumbas and tangos and it gave me something concrete to show people that I knew a few complete pieces. Don't expect to really fully grasp compas by doing that though, because I can't play a bulerias to save my life and I can only "fake" solea
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 4 2017 0:34:30

payaso

 

Posts: 73
Joined: Dec. 7 2014
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to mark74

Mark74 refers to Juan Martín’s ‘famous book’ but perhaps it would be helpful to clarify what this may refer to, as confusion seems common.

My understanding is that his first book, Juan Martín’s Method, is El Arte Flamenco de la Guitarra (United Music Publishers, but originally also published in the USA by Presser in two volumes). It now comes in one volume with a CD. It is an introduction to flamenco , with a lot of text and photos on techniques, palos and history and a progressive series of musical examples of the major palos.

This was followed by La Guitarra Flamenca, now with two DVDs and published by Faber. Originally it came with rather annoying thick music booklets designed to fit with the size of video cassettes, annoying because they had only two staves of music on each page. The music is now, with the music transferred to DVDs, reformatted and presented in a full-size book.

This was followed by two books of graded solos in various palos published by Mel Bay, called Solos Flamencos, Volumes I and II, each with a DVD and CD. Some purchasers seem to have been disappointed that these did not explain techniques in detail, but they are books of progressive solo pieces, Volume I starting at Grade 0.

The most recent publications (also by Mel Bay) are Volumes I and II of Essential Flamenco Guitar, each with two DVDs, which are designed as suitable for beginners to more advanced players. The 1st DVD of Vol. I addresses basic techniques, and the 2nd DVD, Soleá and Alegrías. The 1st DVD of Vol. II has Bulerías, and the 2nd DVD, Rumba, Tangos, Tientos and Seguiriyas.

There is minimal overlap in the musical examples transcribed in these different publications. He has also published some transcriptions of his recorded solos.

For a complete beginner, the best places to start would be with the Method (El Arte Flamenco de la Guitarra) and Volume I of Essential Flamenco Guitar. For a player starting out who is looking for a greater number of easily playable and progressively harder pieces Volume I of Solos Flamencos would be helpful.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 4 2017 15:02:43
 
Fitz63

 

Posts: 100
Joined: May 16 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Another option, rather than books, are individual transcriptions. An example is Affedis, who also publish books. Here's a quote from their webpage.

Are you are a beginner?
If so you should try these pieces.
Melchor de Marchena: Malagueña, Soleá, Taranta.
Sabicas: Improvisation de Sabicas, Garrotín Flamenco
Roman el Granaino: Tanguillo del Sacromonte, Bulería al Golpe, Granaina.
Anthologies: Soleá 3.

I don't know these pieces, but before I order I tend to search YouTube or Spotify to try and hear a piece first. Then you would get some idea about what is going to be expected of you.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 4 2017 19:45:59
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2603
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

forget books, forget "pieces"

(and who cares how many "staves" there are per page? if you need the tab to help learn from audio/video you should be memorising small sections not trying to "read")

find a dance class, and go ask the guitarist for lessons and to sit in on the classes. Use your ears (and eyes).

if you really live somewhere so remote there really aren't any flamenco dance classes use audio and video. Use your ears (and eyes).

For technique see Gerardo Nuñez Encuentro DVD, or for more breakdown and explanation Oscar Herrero DVD's are good (Paso A Paso 1-3)

For basic compás in most palos Merengue De Cordoba Encuentro (but not so good for technique, so learn the technique from the above suggestions, and apply)

Re your question "is flamenco treated more like classical .... or jazz....?" refer to Oscar Herrero Paso A Paso 4-5 (Soleá 1-2) - he shows the segments that make up compas, llamadas, falsetas etc. and examples of how to put them together in different ways to make solo "pieces" - and in Paso 6 (Soleá 3) to accompany Cante.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 4 2017 21:51:38

payaso

 

Posts: 73
Joined: Dec. 7 2014
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to mark indigo

It’s a general rule in education that people are inclined to recommend their own experience of education as the best method. I think one sees a lot of this on the Foro, but the truth is that there must be many ways of learning a musical genre. And it also depends on what level of skill one is aiming for.

Some people who have a prior knowledge of reading music like to see written scores (and the originator of this thread asked for written pieces). Others prefer more aural or visual methods. Others use a variety of methods. Just look at the variety of ways one can learn, for example, jazz piano, for which there are academic courses as well as purely self-taught players.

The commonest recommendations on the Foro seem to be to get a teacher (are some of these made by teachers?) but not so many people have ready access to a good teacher. My own view is somewhat biased by my experience. My first teacher, a good player, persuaded me to pay in advance for a lot of lessons then immediately emigrated back to Spain. The second, a less good player, borrowed a pile of my most precious flamenco records then disappeared.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 5 2017 11:46:46
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1562
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to payaso

quote:

It’s a general rule in education that people are inclined to recommend their own experience of education as the best method.


I doubt this is true: certainly it isn’t in my case.

I had years of “music” — actually 19th-century Western classical music — in school. It left so little impression that when I took up the guitar I had to learn to read all over again.

I did manage to learn French and German moderately well (this was in the grammar/translation days); however, about 60% of my colleagues could recite tables of German articles, but not put a sentence together.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 5 2017 16:52:21
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1765
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to payaso

quote:

ORIGINAL: payaso
The commonest recommendations on the Foro seem to be to get a teacher (are some of these made by teachers?)

That's unfair. I recommended getting a teacher - but I don't teach. Ricardo said nothing about getting a teacher nor about his skype lessons.

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Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 5 2017 19:45:58
 
Erik van Goch

 

Posts: 1744
Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Dudnote

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dudnote

quote:

ORIGINAL: payaso
The commonest recommendations on the Foro seem to be to get a teacher (are some of these made by teachers?)

That's unfair. I recommended getting a teacher - but I don't teach. Ricardo said nothing about getting a teacher nor about his skype lessons.


I recommend to get a teacher as well and although i was a teacher for many years i stopped teaching over 10 years ago so i have nothing to gain. But having experienced the art of teaching from both sides i can tell first hand a good teacher can make a hell of a difference (but how to recognize a good teacher from a lesser good teacher, that's the question).

Living in the Netherlands i was a self made ear player for about 10 years (at the time records only) before i started to receive some proper lessons and basically had to start all over again (both technically and musically because at the time i had no clue at all what i was playing). My teacher at Rotterdam Conservatory over the years manufactured a 1200 page didactic system covering the art of (solo) flamenco guitar from level zero to stage level (not available for public i'm afraid). Aside from a couple of complete pieces (like Paco Peña's Peteneras) it's basically a collection of didactically/performance wise interesting compas variations/falsetas of all sources that can be combined to ones likings, well sort of since the students are only allowed to copy material that match their level of playing/understanding (unlearning things is way more difficult as learning things correctly from the very start). To give you an idea, the first couple of mouths we were only allowed to play open strings with the thump :-). Once we had a certain base we had to accompany singers and dancers as well. Despite having 1200 pages of transcription the lessons are done the traditional way of monkey see monkey do.

Their wise lessons made me listen to flamenco/play the guitar in a totally different way, changing me from a cluesless imitator into someone who could aspire a professional career (if i choose to do so which so far i didn't). The most valuable thing i learned aside from technique and compas awareness was what and how to study (not only for my personal development but also when it comes to teaching others since the conservatory focusus on delivering good teachers as well).

I can't offer you the personal guidance real life lessons can offer, but i can offer you a series of soleares compas variations that show in some detail how to build up your skills musically and technically in small manageable steps by showing the very same basic compas variation while adding more and more complexity (from beginners level up to "performance" level). Like me, my students never receive the complete set of these variations straight away but only are offered the variations i consider them capable to handle (technically and musically). On top a good reacher can show you how to study/play the most effective way saving you tons of time waste. In my lessons showing these variations goes hand in hand with proper coaching, preparing you for the next step. Still these set of variations can take months/years to master, depending on ones talent, critical ear and effectiveness of studying.

In the link you have to scroll up to reach the intended soleares compas variations (the tremolo exercise that pops up on the bottom of that page is just a personal exercise i used to include in my daily workouts).

http://www.foroflamenco.com/tm.asp?m=212197&appid=&p=&mpage=1&key=right%2Corder&tmode=&smode=&s=#225439

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The smaller the object of your focus the bigger the result.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 5 2017 22:05:55
 
soclydeza85

 

Posts: 54
Joined: Feb. 27 2017
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

Thanks again for all the replies guys, you've given me a lot to chew on.

After doing some research on the topic, I think I'm starting to understand the general structure of flamenco - the different palos, compas and so forth - so a lot of what you all are saying makes a lot more sense now. Do any of you know of any good resources (books, websites) that go a bit deeper into flamenco structure, something that explains everything?

And as stated, I'm unable to get a teacher at the moment, mainly due to lack of availability of any, which seems strange since there are a fair amount of musicians in my area, but I will continue looking. For now I've just been playing close attention to my technique to try and minimize bad habits.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 0:03:41
 
Dudnote

Posts: 1765
Joined: Nov. 13 2007
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

quote:

ORIGINAL: soclydeza85
...something that explains everything?

No I don't.

But these sites have some great material
http://tomaflamenco.com/en
http://ravennaflamenco.com/

And these podcasts are good
http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/duendeando/
http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/nuestro-flamenco/nuestro-flamenco-310117/3892138/

_____________________________

Ay compañerita de mi alma
tú ahora no me conoces.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 1:43:34

Piwin

Posts: 2194
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

If you speak some Spanish, this site has got a lot of info on different aspects of flamenco:

http://www.flamencopolis.com/

@payaso

I agree with you, to an extent (man you really did have bad luck with your first teachers!). People learn in different ways. However, I do think it's important to bear in mind that all the flamenco players worth their salt learned basically the same way, the "monkey see monkey do" way as someone called it. That doesn't mean everyone has to approach it that way of course, but if you don't, at least it's good to know that you're approaching the music differently than the way almost all the pros you're listening to did.
I would personally always recommend getting a teacher. I don't teach (except a few guys over here who play better than me but wanted to get some basic knowledge of theory. I prefer to be paid in beers ^^) but it is true that is the way I learned. The first book I bought was the 1st official volume of PdL's works, and it was all wrong, so that kind of turned me away from books. I do own a lot of Manuel Granados's stuff because it is accurate and has good technical exercises, and some Alain Faucher sheet music since he knows what he's doing but that's about it.

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Chicken crossing
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 6:13:36
 
Erik van Goch

 

Posts: 1744
Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to soclydeza85

quote:

ORIGINAL: soclydeza85


Also, is flamenco treated more like classical (where the pieces are meant to be played a specific way)


Yes and no :-).

On first ear flamenco solo pieces can have have lots in common with classical guitar pieces but a trained ear can recognize the individual compass variations and falsetas that made up that piece, even in pieces that seems to be 1 continuing composition from the very first note to the very last note of the piece.

The underlaying measure of any given flamenco piece is something called "compas", a hard to explain musical guidance that (like a real compass) keeps you "on track". The compas of Soleares for instance dictates a cyclus of 12 beats with natural accents on beat 3,6,8,10,12 and although we have the artistic freedom to play different accents those 12 beats are pretty much leading. Not only do we have to honor those 12 beats, we also have to know which variations/ideas fits to which part of the compas and it takes a trained ear and lot's of experience to know, honor and tastefully challenge the restrictions and liberties of the underlaying compas. Various flamenco styles don't have a fixed amount of beats but still demand a very distinct sound/interpretation dictating the do's and don't of your playing.

When you pick up a new style of flamenco best thing is to learn yourself a couple of it's standard compas variations first. These basic compas variations capture the harmonic atmosphere and the compas of the piece like no other wile surfing it's most basic chord cadenzas (in capable hands 1 or 2 chords can already bring you in heaven).

Next thing is to learn yourself a couple of falsetas, the melodically more adventurous passages. Obviously it's not that black and white since a boring falseta can be more predictable as an adventures compas variation and some variations seem to be somewhere "in between" one way or the other.

Traditionally the flamenco guitar was introduced to accompany the flamenco singing or cante. Preceding and in between these sung melodies the guitarist play the standard compas variations and every now and then squeezes in a falseta, basically the guitarists version of the singing part. Another important part of flamenco is the dancing with sometimes very impressive rhythmic passages. As a solo guitarist you basically try to offer the total flamenco experience of guitar, singing and dancing (experience with these disciplines obviously is a huge plus if you aspire a professional career as a soloist).

A nice example of including "dance" in your solo's is the part played at 8:33 were everyone knowing the full flamenco palet can picture a dancer doing "his/her thing".



But we are not that far yet. Once you have learned yourself a couple of falsetas and compas variations (matching your level of playing) it's time to chain them in order to play a continuing piece. One challenge to face when combining material is that many beginners tend to vary their speed of playing depending on how difficult the individual compasvariations and falsetas are so they unintentionally speed up parts they find "easy to play" and slow down the parts they find "difficult to play" (or fail to notice a certain variation has to be played twice as fast or slow as they thought). While it's okay to study individual parts and fragments on alternative speeds, once you start combining them they have to fit the total picture which means you have to select a speed that allows you to play the more difficult parts without slowing down (the more simple parts can suddenly sound very uncomfortable and/or "slow and boring" then, that's why many fall for the temptation to speed up things to soon or select more daring variations in stead of developing the skills to make the simple things sound fabulous as well).

Once you have enough material to construct a full piece you try to find the best order to play that material. Obviously some combinations work better as others and it would be nice to start with a variation that sounds like a beginning and to end with a variation that sounds like an ending :-). In the beginning you really have to make the best of the limited material you have and might have to surge for additional material to make your piece "complete". Over time you'll learn more and more variations giving you the luxury to select the very best material you have on the expense of material you find less appealing to play so over time some parts are replaced by others. The improvisation part of flamenco generally is more that you can decide to include a certain variation or not (or play it slightly different), depending on your mood and the shape you're in (on stage that means since at home improvisation is a great way to stumble into new ideas that can be worked out later on or already are perfect from the very start). Once you have enough technical and musical bagage to deal with complete pieces offered by records you obviously can add them to your repertoire as well (if necessary you can leave out certain variations or replace/simplify them to your abilities).

Once you reach a level were you enter the era of the creators of flamenco as a composer demands got even higher. Aside from musical structure i don't think there's much difference between composing a flamenco piece and a classical piece in the sense that in both cases you keep smoothing and sanding until every note is to your liking. As a classical composer you put it on paper and it generally will remain like that forever. As a flamenco player you put it on record and it's not uncommon that (aside from minor variations) you keep plying it like that for many years until you find an improvement. Every now and then you include new idea's until 1 day you sit down with the intent to create a totally new piece which might or might not include that new material. Obviously once you have mastered or composed various pieces in a certain flamenco style you're free to mix up it's ingredients to your likings.

Like i said as a composer/arranger you keep smoothing and sanding until every note is to your liking and the better ones have the total piece in mind with everything they do. In the same way you gradually work your way up as a student (playing more difficult variations over time) Paco Peña tends to play the more easy compas variations in the beginning of the piece and leave the more daring variations to shine later in the piece. If for instance you play Paco Peña's Peterneras to him and you incidentally mix up his 2-th and the 3-th compas variation he will most probably correct you because to his ears that's blasphemy (he very meticulously decided to increase the complexity of each next compas variation to obtain the perfect "development" of the piece and mixing them up would disturb that fine balance). Still i'm totally free to chance 1 or more notes as long as it fits the total picture. So flamenco can be a random collection of falseta's and compas variations with or without spontaneous improvisations up to compositions that are played more or less the same way over and over again, either by (lack of) choice or by habit, that's why i started with yes and no :-).

When you learn a falseta or compas variation in a lesson or a masterclass (or try to learn it from a record, video or book) one generally is supposed to copy it as exact as possible, later on you can change it to your likings/abilities as long as you make sure it's "in compas" (obviously a good teacher makes sure the material offered to you is within your abilities and shaped the best possible way but personal variations are always welcomed off course wether they are praised or criticized).

The book or video that explains everything has still to be made and still can not do without proper guidance.

_____________________________

The smaller the object of your focus the bigger the result.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 12:34:41
 
Fitz63

 

Posts: 100
Joined: May 16 2016
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Piwin

quote:

ORIGINAL: Piwin

If you speak some Spanish, this site has got a lot of info on different aspects of flamenco:

http://www.flamencopolis.com/



That's a great website, thanks. Even if I don't speak/read Spanish (dodgy French and Italian...!), the audio excepts are invaluable. Bookmarked!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 13:30:16
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 2603
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
From: UK

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to payaso

quote:

It’s a general rule in education that people are inclined to recommend their own experience of education as the best method. I think one sees a lot of this on the Foro, but the truth is that there must be many ways of learning a musical genre. And it also depends on what level of skill one is aiming for.


In my case i often recommend things that i didn't experience, but with hindsight wished i had!

When I first heard flamenco i had no idea about it, and thought it was some kind of super complex classical music that i would need to learn to read music in order to play. I spent years trying to learn to read, when i would have better spent that time developing my ear.

I also believed that there are many equally valid ways to learn.

Actually this latter point is a major stumbling block to many learning flamenco (both guitar and dance), because the first thing you have to learn is the flamenco way. So if it's not what you think of as your way, then the first thing you are going to have to learn is how to learn by ear. It took me years just to learn this and arrive at the starting point.

No singer or dancer is gonna hand you a score to play from. Most flamenco guitarists don't read music, and no flamenco guitarist that i'm aware of writes out their compositions (even the few that do read, eg. Manolo Sanlucar and Rafael Riqueni). All transcriptions are necessarily interpretations of a performance. And if you go to Spain to learn, most guitarists teach face to face so you are using your ears and eyes, and most won't be handing out scores (some do write some tab out if begged!)

Also, flamenco becomes much more complex when it is "explained" or written out, when in reality is mostly based on simple rhythms.

Good example is Soleá - explanation: 12 beats with accents on 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12 - reality: lots of it is just phrased in 3's (3 beats per chord: F, C, F, E or A-, G, F, E)

Another example is in this Bulerias vid, starting at around 3:40

and don't even get me started on the crazy counting some people promote, like Fandango in 12, with a 10 beat compas before a falseta, and a 14 beat compas after - aaaarrrrggghhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 6 2017 18:08:44
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11082
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Dudnote

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dudnote

quote:

ORIGINAL: payaso
The commonest recommendations on the Foro seem to be to get a teacher (are some of these made by teachers?)

That's unfair. I recommended getting a teacher - but I don't teach. Ricardo said nothing about getting a teacher nor about his skype lessons.


I did say it was wise to have a teacher to get the base foundation to build upon. I mainly mean that the student, whatever method he or she is using to learn, needs to get feedback about their playing. Most of us mostly self taught players realize the benefit of recording oneself. That is one of the greatest teachers, so long as YOU the listener can be objective and self critical. In fact, the thing with teachers I find, it all depends on the student and how he or she can take "criticism". Sometimes criticism is harsh and not helpful, but even still there can be something to be learned from receiving it. I still get criticism today and was thinking to compile a list of things I have heard throughout my flamenco journey. Here are some off the top of my head:

"You need to listen to the cante...."- this was a general thing I heard after first getting involved, but it continued until I started gaining respect from pro singers. Looking back I would tell folks, they need to listen to what the GUITAR is doing for the singer, so you know what is appropriate and expected, it's not about just kicking back with your stereo. It needs to be ACTIVE listening. In the end every guitarist ends up being a very knowledgeable aficionado of singing, like it or not.

"You have good compas, but what is that THING you are playing? Get a decent flamenco guitar for gods sake"- a dance teacher told me back when I was learning and using a beat up classical guitar. I knew I needed to get a real flamenco guitar and had been saving up. Some people over heard that and told me later that she was rude to talk to me that way, but I admitted she was absolutely correct.

"Maybe in 10 years he will be a good player..."- a flamenco singer from Madrid after we did an unrehearsed tablao show early on in my learning, and in response to a dancer there that was telling the singer that they liked my playing and considered me to be a decent player at the time. This one stuck with me for a long time, because again I knew the singer was not trying to be rude, and he was right on. It ecos with the famous Sabicas quote that a concert player needs 20 years accompaniment under the belt first.

"Oh you don't play Malagueña? Can I borrow your guitar then?"-this from Salvadora Galan backstage of a show. She wanted to do an unrehearsed cante solo, and frankly it was embarrassing to have this little old lady out play you and accompany herself! LOL. But I told myself never again would I be unprepared.

"His playing sounds "plastico"- this was from a guitarist I respected very much, but behind my back to a fellow guitarist. I think there was something there perhaps because I was not a formal student of this person, however I took it as something I needed to work on soundwise with my playing. One major change after this was getting my nails in shape, perhaps my arpeggio and picado attack etc. Years later I gained a very high respect from this same player.

"In the land of the blind, the One eyed man is king....it takes more than a Paco de lucia T shirt to be a good guitarist"- This was from La Tati after I first played for her dance class, said in front of me to the dance students. Again, she was referring to the fact I had good compas but a lot to learn....and there was a little jab there about my colleagues in my local circle, not sure if they picked up on that. She said some years later that I "grew" on her, and I got to perform with her here in DC. The highest level dancer I ever got to play for IMO.

"Your playing needs "pellizco"..."-this from another famous dancer. Took a while to decipher what she was after exactly, but years later I was her preferred guitarist for certain projects.

"Ricardo has a heavy hand"- this from a top level young flamenco guitarist. I thought it was an odd critic, but later I demoed a rasgueado for Gerardo and class, and they all laughed at how loud it was. I realize that playing for dance can affect your dynamics in away that might not be musically so good.

"Your tonos sound weird"- this from a professional singer from the Ballet Nacional. Now, what she meant was she didn't like the key I was playing in...I learned that it doesn't matter if YOU know what you are doing musically, to be respectful to the art form you have to adapt to odd or seemingly silly requests from other artists you don't normally work with. I have seen huge fights amongst the top level artists that refuse to adapt to the other's ideas. Go with the flow, be humble and support the singer/dancer when you are the accompanist.

"He refused to rehearse with me, now he doesn't understand my choreography. Next time I bring my own guitarist..."- this one from a top Male dancer surprised me a lot. Because I had got like 90% of the complicated sh1t and missed one weird corte. I know this is a huge turn off for a lot of guitarists, memorizing choreography that is. I learned that if you can't take the heat you must get out of the kitchen. Step up to the challenge, even if you know the person making you go out of your way is the insecure one....again, the job of the accompanist is to make the others feel comfortable.


Anyway, many more cliche put downs I have endured and also the typical butt kissing praise that this unnecessary. As a student I take what I need to advance and try not to let stuff get me down that is not a serious problem.

Ricardo

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 7 2017 13:09:50

payaso

 

Posts: 73
Joined: Dec. 7 2014
 

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Ricardo

The greater your achievement the more criticism, put-downs and sheer nastiness you have to put up with, I suppose – and it must be really tough to achieve so much.

Of course I’m not against teachers. If you can find good ones (as I later did) that is a very rewarding way to go, though on its own it can be an expensive method of acquiring material. And if you want to become a working flamenco guitarist I doubt if you can do that easily without at some stage spending a lot of time in Spain with the right people.

But this is just at the very top end of a wide spectrum of ability and ambition. What concerns me is the help available for most lovers of flamenco guitar who (like me) are not going to be great players and will have little opportunity to play for dancers or singers. They can still find enormous pleasure and fulfilment in going as far as they can – and they deserve encouragement rather than be given unrealistic targets.

I think it unlikely that most will find it easy to start with trying to copy even the least technically challenging segments of PdL, and the few Encuentro videos I have seen would be far too difficult for most beginners. For the very many such players, books and DVDs which spell out the basics and address their needs are a much more useful approach and should not be scorned. The written flamenco ‘pieces’ I have seen can illustrate how falsetas and rhythm elements can be arranged to provide a solo for performance, but these arrangements are not set in stone and the student will be encouraged to make their own compilations. If a good teacher can be found (and afforded) as well then that must be all to the good, but many may not have that option.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 7 2017 14:46:10
 
Mark2

Posts: 1469
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Good beginner pieces (in reply to Ricardo

This is a great contribution, and speaks very well as to how you have attained the level you have. I have endured many insults as well, but most from people without the level of your "teachers"

An American singer once told me my way of expressing sevillanas compas belonged in a museum. It's true my first teacher was born in the later 20's and was working in Madrid in the 40's and 50's so my style was older than what most locals were playing. I made more effort to learn more modern ways of playing.

An American guitarist said to another guitarist about me "He doesn't have the hands to play any good music" -Possibly true, but it served to inspire me to try anyway.

A guitarist from Madrid I studied with explained my inability to do fast picado by stating I had a psychological problem. I wish that was the case, because I'd have seen a shrink years ago and would be doing 16ths at 180 and KILLING it!

I was playing a workshop for Pastora Galvan. By this time I could pick out the palo after hearing the first few few steps or the palmas, so as she started I went into tangos. She gave me a big smile, but I soon realized she was dancing solea por buleria. Uh oh. She was in town with her father, who stopped into a rehearsal I was playing for a local dancer. He started singing alegrias. I was so star struck I changed to the B7 at the end of the first line and continued to change chords after every line, playing the wrong tono for the whole verse. He didn't say a word.

Sometimes they don't have to for one to realize they have a loooong way to go.

But there was that time I did an unrehearsed show for a very good dancer and she told someone after "He picks up complicated steps after seeing them once." I'll take it!! HAHA, the struggle goes on.......


quote:

ORIGINAL: Ricardo


I did say it was wise to have a teacher to get the base foundation to build upon. I mainly mean that the student, whatever method he or she is using to learn, needs to get feedback about their playing. Most of us mostly self taught players realize the benefit of recording oneself. That is one of the greatest teachers, so long as YOU the listener can be objective and self critical. In fact, the thing with teachers I find, it all depends on the student and how he or she can take "criticism". Sometimes criticism is harsh and not helpful, but even still there can be something to be learned from receiving it. I still get criticism today and was thinking to compile a list of things I have heard throughout my flamenco journey. Here are some off the top of my head:

"You need to listen to the cante...."- this was a general thing I heard after first getting involved, but it continued until I started gaining respect from pro singers. Looking back I would tell folks, they need to listen to what the GUITAR is doing for the singer, so you know what is appropriate and expected, it's not about just kicking back with your stereo. It needs to be ACTIVE listening. In the end every guitarist ends up being a very knowledgeable aficionado of singing, like it or not.

"You have good compas, but what is that THING you are playing? Get a decent flamenco guitar for gods sake"- a dance teacher told me back when I was learning and using a beat up classical guitar. I knew I needed to get a real flamenco guitar and had been saving up. Some people over heard that and told me later that she was rude to talk to me that way, but I admitted she was absolutely correct.

"Maybe in 10 years he will be a good player..."- a flamenco singer from Madrid after we did an unrehearsed tablao show early on in my learning, and in response to a dancer there that was telling the singer that they liked my playing and considered me to be a decent player at the time. This one stuck with me for a long time, because again I knew the singer was not trying to be rude, and he was right on. It ecos with the famous Sabicas quote that a concert player needs 20 years accompaniment under the belt first.

"Oh you don't play Malagueña? Can I borrow your guitar then?"-this from Salvadora Galan backstage of a show. She wanted to do an unrehearsed cante solo, and frankly it was embarrassing to have this little old lady out play you and accompany herself! LOL. But I told myself never again would I be unprepared.

"His playing sounds "plastico"- this was from a guitarist I respected very much, but behind my back to a fellow guitarist. I think there was something there perhaps because I was not a formal student of this person, however I took it as something I needed to work on soundwise with my playing. One major change after this was getting my nails in shape, perhaps my arpeggio and picado attack etc. Years later I gained a very high respect from this same player.

"In the land of the blind, the One eyed man is king....it takes more than a Paco de lucia T shirt to be a good guitarist"- This was from La Tati after I first played for her dance class, said in front of me to the dance students. Again, she was referring to the fact I had good compas but a lot to learn....and there was a little jab there about my colleagues in my local circle, not sure if they picked up on that. She said some years later that I "grew" on her, and I got to perform with her here in DC. The highest level dancer I ever got to play for IMO.

"Your playing needs "pellizco"..."-this from another famous dancer. Took a while to decipher what she was after exactly, but years later I was her preferred guitarist for certain projects.

"Ricardo has a heavy hand"- this from a top level young flamenco guitarist. I thought it was an odd critic, but later I demoed a rasgueado for Gerardo and class, and they all laughed at how loud it was. I realize that playing for dance can affect your dynamics in away that might not be musically so good.

"Your tonos sound weird"- this from a professional singer from the Ballet Nacional. Now, what she meant was she didn't like the key I was playing in...I learned that it doesn't matter if YOU know what you are doing musically, to be respectful to the art form you have to adapt to odd or seemingly silly requests from other artists you don't normally work with. I have seen huge fights amongst the top level artists that refuse to adapt to the other's ideas. Go with the flow, be humble and support the singer/dancer when you are the accompanist.

"He refused to rehearse with me, now he doesn't understand my choreography. Next time I bring my own guitarist..."- this one from a top Male dancer surprised me a lot. Because I had got like 90% of the complicated sh1t and missed one weird corte. I know this is a huge turn off for a lot of guitarists, memorizing choreography that is. I learned that if you can't take the heat you must get out of the kitchen. Step up to the challenge, even if you know the person making you go out of your way is the insecure one....again, the job of the accompanist is to make the others feel comfortable.


Anyway, many more cliche put downs I have endured and also the typical butt kissing praise that this unnecessary. As a student I take what I need to advance and try not to let stuff get me down that is not a serious problem.

Ricardo
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 7 2017 20:29:57
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