I'm Still learning Classical Guitar, and i plan to learn flamenco as well.

My question is from classical experience, can i play flamenco music but just learning the right hand techniques (Rumba,Tremolo...)?

My question is most likely:

Is flamenco built on top classical techniques?



4 Answers 4


Here is what I read from my guitar book:

Most authorities agree that the best approach to flamenco technique is through careful study of basic classic guitar technique. Because of the unusual and striking effects required to perform true flamenco music, the playing technique is necessarily somewhat different; however, the basic technique of playing the classic guitar, correctly applied, remains the same whether the instrument is used for classica, popular, or flamenco music.

Basically I think the left hand is pretty much the same, but techniques of the right hand (the ones you pointed out) should be specially learned.


There are a few left hand positions in flamenco that I had never encountered in classical guitar. For instance, you at times may need to play the 4th fret of the 6th string with your index finger while simultaneous playing the 3rd fret of the 2nd and 3rd string with your pinky and ring finger. The end result is your index being positioned higher up on the neck than your pinky and ring finger, which is uncomfortable to say the least (this most often occurs when playing the alzapua technique).

That being said, it is true that most of the techniques that are specific to flamenco are right hand techniques. Some of them also exist in classical guitar but are not used in the same way or to the same extent. For instance, in flamenco guitar, the thumb does almost exclusively rest strokes and hardly any free strokes.

To finish on the left hand in flamenco, there are certain hand positions that are extremely common. These are not techniques per se, they are simply different chord voicings that are widely used in flamenco but that are uncommon in other forms of guitar and that you must learn to play actual flamenco pieces. If you only learn the right hand techniques, then you will only be able to play non-flamenco pieces and make them "sound flamenco" (for instance, playing "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" with a 4-note flamenco tremolo). If, however, you want to play a piece by Paco de Lucia, then knowing the commong left hand positions in flamenco is important.


I learned to play the classical guitar when I was a kid, and later continued to music school for nearly 3 years. After a few years of not playing at all, I got the urge to start learning flamenco after spending some time is Andalucia (southern Spain) and watching flamenco shows there.

From my experience, there are pros and cons to starting with classical guitar before moving to flamenco, here's a summary:


  1. The left hand gets plenty of practice playing the classical guitar, which helps in focusing on the more challenging flamenco right hand techniques
  2. There's already knowledge of many of the chords that are going to be used in flamenco
  3. Learning to play the classical guitar (especially if you learn from music sheet) develops the ability to learn a complicated piece one segment at a time, while maintaining rhythm (which is very important in flamenco)


  1. You will need to learn to play the guitar in a different posture than you used to
  2. A lot of classical guitar right hand techniques are performed very differently in flamenco, so you will need to re-learn them (picado, tremolo, rasgeo, etc.)
  3. The rhythms in classical music are extremely simple compared to flamenco; Starting with flamenco from the get go will give you more time to concentrate on them
  4. Since you'll already have gained some competence in playing, you'll probably won't be very happy with practicing the simplest flamenco pieces, which might lead to frustration, as the more complicated pieces have very hard rhythm patterns to grasp at first (it happened to me anyway)

Hope this helps.


Another good reason to practice classical guitar before switching to flamenco is related to ear training.

Ear training is much more important in flamenco because their is no score and the player is supposed to improvise. Starting this with flamenco is reserved to ears already trained for years, if not, it is better to start this exercice using basic classical pieces.

Most of the classical pieces for beginners are harmonically simple and this helps a lot when starting ears training, when trying to dissociate a note from another, and their interval. A deep immersion into "easy listening" classical pieces 'll make it easier to recognize the major/minor difference and harmonic evolutions. It 'll really help to dive faster into the most important and joyful part of flamenco which is expression. Granaïna for exemple is a style which allows any desired rhythmical or harmonic evolutions; it would be a nightmare to start ear training with this style.

As a general matter, I would recommend to study deeply the compas (if any) before starting to play a flamenco style with the instrument. A deep understanding of its evolution is very helpful (and a joyful experience when done in duo or with more people). To ear some good examples of different compas and handclap improvisation, I would recommend to listen to Moraïto (album Morao Morao). The movie "Vengo" (Tony Gatlif) contains also a good example of improvisation based on a buleria (using feet and hands, on the street).

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