Mudcat Café message #1043930 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21945   Message #1043930
Posted By: Don Firth
29-Oct-03 - 01:15 PM
Thread Name: Help: Flamenco Guitars
Subject: RE: Help: Flamenco Guitars
During the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, one of the major attractions at the fair was the Spanish Village, where they had flamenco dancing every night. During the six months of the fair, I had a chance to take lessons from Antonio Zori, one of the guitarists. A friend of mine took lessons from Carlos Ramos. One of the members of the Seattle Classic Guitar Society during the Sixties was Jose Trujillo, who played flamenco, and another friend of mine was a fellow named Chuck Drysdale, who had studied flamenco in Madrid for two years. Along with all this, I have several Flamenco technique manuals and lots of written music (very hard to pick it up that way unless you have someone to show you a lot of things first). I think I can say with some authority that never, ever, no time is flamenco played with anything other than standard guitar tuning.

Among other things, a super-authentic flamenco guitar (the kind favored by hard-nosed flamenco purists) doesn't have tuning machines, it has push-pegs. The result is that this kind of flamenco guitar is an absolute bitch to tune, so re-tuning is not something that most flamenco guitarists would take to with much pleasure. I had a Domingo Esteso with push-pegs once, so I know. I sold it to a purist and ordered an Arcangel Fernandez—with the tuning machine option (same as a classic). Fantastic instrument!   

Each one of the flamenco forms (Allegrias, Soleares, Granadinas, etc.) is played using a specific scale and set of chord fingerings, but not necessarily in a specific key. For example, the Allegrias uses the key of A scales and chord forms (i.e., A, D, and E) with some occasional variations, but the cejilla or capo is almost always used, not to change the key, but to vary the tone of the guitar and to bring the left hand up to where the frets are closer together to facilitate the "falsettas" (scales, runs, etc.). Traditional flamenco forms are fairly rigid in their structure, but within that structure, one is free to improvise to the limit of one's imagination and technique.

What classic guitar composers such as Tarrega have written is not a good source for information about flamenco, any more than a composition by Leonard Bernstein will give you authoritative information about jazz.

Judging from the age of this thread, the moment has undoubtedly passed, but a Condé Hermanos flamenco guitar should be a prime-quality instrument.

Don Firth