Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Recently I've been trying to get some flamenco spirit into my playing. I've already experimented with some 'gypsy' scales and it feels good ... but I've also realized that part of the secret is in using less common time-signatures.

What time-signatures could be considered as typical for these styles?

Thanks in advance!

share|improve this question
    
do you have a song or piece as an example? – bluevoodoo1 Jan 14 '11 at 1:21
up vote 10 down vote accepted

You need to understand that flamenco rhythm is very different from classical or popular music (it has more in common with Indian Classical music and the concept of "Tala").

All flamencos talk about rhythm using the notion of "compas" - these are rhythmic "styles", that include a time structure, as well as a feel and a usual tempo. For example, Bulerias compas is a cycle of 12 beats, but sometimes just 6, played fast (and faster!), and has a feeling of "fiesta", both dark and light, about it. So when one of your answers refers to a Paco de Lucia song as "Bulerias", he is mistaking the name of the compas for a song title. And Paco is certainly not playing in 3/4 - the "uncommon" time signature you are hearing is coming from taking 12 fast beats and grouping them by threes and twos (Google "hemiola"), and with Bulerias in particular, often throwing in an accent on beats 7 and 8 (with 12 being the first strong beat of the cycle).

"12 being the first strong beat"?!? Another amazingly confusing thing about flamenco rhythm is that traditionally flamencos count the 12 beat cycles (Bulerias, Solea, Alegrias, etc.) starting with 12, instead of 1. This seems just perverse, until someone reminds you that they refer to the "clock" - and the clock starts ticking at 12...

OK, ok, there are simpler compas - "Tango" is four 4/4 measures (but the cycle usually ends on beat 3... And it doesn't really have anything to do with Argentine tango...). Obviously, people can go on and on about this topic - it's a great stew of old dance forms (think Sarabande, from Bach's time?), ethnic music (Zambra, from the Jews of Cordoba), modern "whacked" rhythms (they rap to flamenco in Jerez) and ancient mystery (compas really are like Indian Talas).

But since you are just looking for flamenco "spirit", and aren't necessarily committed to Total Immersion Flamenco Obsession, I would first just focus on trying to hear those squirrely groups of twos and threes, and how they shift throughout the 12-beat cycle. But if you get curious, there's lots of material on the web (a good start is the Wikipedia article on flamenco - and then just start typing the names of various compas into YouTube). Have fun!

share|improve this answer
1  
Wow thanks, this is a great answer - one that makes me want to play and listen and play and listen and count and don't count and then play some more. – Michal Mau Dec 1 '11 at 9:38
    
Well, a comment like that makes my day - and makes the effort worthwhile - thanks! – WildGeese Feb 14 '12 at 22:17

I'm not affiliated to it but in my own opinion the following web page:

flamencopolis.com/archives/472

is the most extensive online document I've found as of yet on the issue of compas. It breaks down all of the main time signatures of flamenco palos. Unfortunately it is only available in Spanish, as is the case of many of the best ressources on flamenco. I submit it just in case...

However, as was said above in another answer, if you aren't looking to fully immerse yourself in flamenco and only add some flamenco spirit to other forms of playing, I wouldn't focus on the time structure (which could take years to discover all of the ins-and-outs of) and would focus on the scales and chord voicings that are specific to flamenco, as well as some of the right hand techniques.

share|improve this answer
    
You may want to include that you are not personally affiliated with that site as to spare this post a flag for spam. – Neil Meyer Feb 14 at 17:32
    
Thank you. Will do. – user26571 Feb 14 at 17:36

The most typical 12/8, with different 3 + 2 and so on patterns, maybe the most remebered/accessible/stereotyped being 3+3+2+2+2 (Bulerías)

Wikimedia One of the Typical Flamenco Signature

At least the one I remember most exportable and fusionable...



(Even
, which are not spanish)

But they can use as 6/8, 3/4 and even 4

I'm not expert but I am spanish :)

share|improve this answer

Based on a quick survey of my flamenco music books, here is a quick survey:

Gypsy Kings: 18 songs in 2/4, 7 songs in 4/4.
Django Rheinhart (gypsy, not flamenco): 13 songs, all 4/4.
Paco de Lucia: 8 in 3/4, 1 in 4/4, 4 in 3/8, 1 in 6/8.

Sample YouTubes by signature:

Generally, bulerias and sevillanas are 3/4 time; rumbas are 4/4.

Disclaimer: my ex was a flamenco dancer and I never throw books out.

share|improve this answer
1  
Thanks a lot! Where would we be without women .) – Anonymous Jan 14 '11 at 12:29
1  
Anyway Im surprised as I expected that majority of flamenco songs to be something else then 3/4 and 4/4. It has to be something in the rhythm and style how its played that gave me that impression. – Anonymous Jan 14 '11 at 12:36
    
In Seguiriyas the measures are 3/4, 6/8, 3/4, 6/8 etc... – Chiron Jun 8 '11 at 19:33

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.