Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

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liopro

Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by liopro » Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:39 am

Hello, I'd like to play both classical and flamenco music, the second being my preferred choice though. Even though there're a similarities between these two styles they're quite different. I read somewhere classical technique is a great foundation for flamenco. Is that true? The problem with flamenco is that it's almost impossible to find a well structured method for beginners where difficulty is increased step by step. It seems they all assume student has some background in playing classical guitar.

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Cloth Ears
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Cloth Ears » Sat Aug 08, 2015 10:27 am

There are many skills from classical guitar that are applicable to flamenco.

However none of this will teach you the compas (rhythmic structure) of the palos (types) of flamenco. Nor will the rather basic rasguedos of classical guitar cut the mustard when it comes to flamenco. Flamenco is all about rhythm and syncopation as an artform. More recently it has become as harmonically rich as the classical world (since Ramon Montoya, Paco de Lucia and subsequent virtuosos). Never forget that guitar is used to accompany singers and dancers, and virtuoso guitar flamenco has evolved from this: so be prepared to be ignored in bars in Spain unless you SING flamenco!!!

It is a lot to chew on, but I can only recommend both. I always recommend etudes 1&2 by Heitor Villa Lobos to anybody who picks guitars: each teaches useful skills that can be transferred into use in flamenco later. One thing to note that classical tremolo is PAMI whereas flamenco is PIAMI.

Another very important thing to realize is that flamenco guitars and classical guitars look the same, but have significant differences in build.

Head over to http://www.foroflamenco.com if you want to discuss flamenco with the experts there.

Butch Alan
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Butch Alan » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:52 am

Here's a story for you. I've been thinking about how to dig up a few grand for a flamenco guitar. So, last night I was listening to Jesse Cook. After practicing tonight I was flipping through the channels and on PBS there was a Jesse Cook concert. I was watching the show and suddenly noticed my wife was tapping her foot. I told her who the guitarist was and that the music is a new style of flamenco. She then asked 'how much does a guitar like that cost'? I said 'oh a good one,,, maybe starts around three grand'. She then says 'I would like to hear you play one'. 'Well', I said, 'Bill has a Baarslag down at The Classical Guitar Store in Phila, maybe we could go and give it a listen'. Well blow me down! My wife is a country music addict. She likes Jesse Cook! Even wants to go to the Keswick Theater to hear him! Look out Bill. I may be dropping some more dough on you!

liopro

Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by liopro » Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:29 am

Thanks for you tips, Cloth Ears! I do realise flamenco is mostly about compas and palos. I listened once to a polished guitarist with brilliant technique, super fast picados and very distinct rasgeos but he was out of compass most of the time (even I could hear that) so he didn't sound impressive at all. On the other hand there's those who are not that polished but genuinely feel the compas and all you can say is wow :D

@Butch Alan it's nice story mate :D In mine we went even further. Once in Madrid my wife and I entered each and every store where guitar was on display. In Ramirez we met a lady who played professionally. Since I'm not a great player (some chords and arpeggios here and there) I asked her to try a couple of guitars for me so I could decide whether I want them or not. Eventually we left without buying anything. In two hours we met her again, she was looking for Felipe Conde's workshop. So we joined her and visited his place. Ended up with nice guitar made by him :D It is flamenco negra, great sound. Very deep with even classical flavour. Sits in the case most of the time as I still cant play even one tune. So it's about time I start learning something :D

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Blondie
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Blondie » Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:14 am

liopro wrote:Hello, I'd like to play both classical and flamenco music, the second being my preferred choice though. Even though there're a similarities between these two styles they're quite different. I read somewhere classical technique is a great foundation for flamenco. Is that true?
Aside from the fact that learning CG would provide you with some dexterity I'd say no. Sure there are similarities - arpeggio technique, for example, but picado has some important differences to CG scale tech, pulgar is totally different and there is a whole repertoire of techniques that aren't found in CG. Add to that the fact that the musical intent is totally different, the sound/tone you are aiming for is different and focus on rhythm is absolute... you'd be better off diving straight into flamenco rather than learning approaches you have to unlearn later.

I would agree that prior knowledge of basic guitar technique - eg being able to recognise and play chords -would be helpful and most tutor material assumes that knowledge. 1:1 lessons are the best option, and there are plenty of tutors who do this via Skype, there are also some superb video tutor resources out there (eg Adam del Monte). If you really prefer to work through a 'method' try Graf Martinez or the first Juan Martin book (El Arte...). The latter comes with a CD, the former is a little more up to date and there are DVDs, books and CD of the same material. Avoid collections of solo pieces until you truly understand the structure and compas of the toque, which will take a while. Check out the Foro for further info as mentioned above

Finally, just to avoid any confusion, Jesse Cook is not a flamenco artist.

liopro

Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by liopro » Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:39 am

Thanks for the tips, Blondie. I'll give Adam del Monte another try (bought his pack for beginners some time ago but didn't have time to stick to it). As to Juan Martin it seems one should have a bit of foundation before starting out his method.

Speaking about flamenco artists I tend to agree with you wrt Jesse Cook. He's not Tomatito or Moraito :) Even though he uses some flamenco elements in his playing. Lots of guitarists do.

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sxedio
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by sxedio » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:56 pm

If you can't find a flamenco teacher yes, classical is the closest thing but it's a different style to the extent where you'll eventually have to chose which way to go, as Blondie says the intent and tone are quite different,
(Gr) (En) (very little Fr)

Butch Alan
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Butch Alan » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:27 pm

Hey liopro, isn't life grand?

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:55 pm

As classical or Flamenco guitarists, because we play very similar instruments with related techniques, it seems we assume the two styles are intimately related. But if we take a few top performers who dabble, even if only occasionally, in both I think it becomes evident how different the concepts and approach to each really is.

Take one of my favourite classical players for example, Pepe Romero. He has amazing finger dexterity with beautiful tone and control for classical. However, his Flamenco never sounds "Flamenco" to me. Even though his execution of it if flawless and exciting, the essential soul of flamenco is missing. And conversely, some of my favourite Flamenco players dabble(d) in the classical repertoire from time to time. Sabicas, Mario Escudero, Paco Pena, Juan Martin, Paco de Lucia but again the essential soul of classical is absent.

If these guys cannot successfully transition from one to the other what chance do we mere mortals have?

However, having said all that negative stuff...I still think it is fun to try and well worth the effort to pursue the dream...
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

DavRom
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by DavRom » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:09 pm

@ Scot Tremblay

classical guitar music does not have an "essential soul." Bach is nothing like Tarrega, Sor is nothing like Villa-Lobos etc...

flamenco is regional so i guess you can say it has an "essential soul"

IMO Paco de Lucia played the quintessential performance of Concierto de Aranjuez so he definitely straddled the two successfully there

and are you seriously saying Pepe Romero has no soniquete?

Scot Tremblay
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:47 pm

Perhaps I used the wrong word "soul" in reference to classical...there is a certain expectation to the quality, in the approach, to the sound associated with classical or Flamenco playing which I consider the soul of the genre. Just as there is a difference between the music for the lute and the guitar and the music written for these instruments. To remove the quality of the original instrument or intent from the equation results in an audible difference...this is not, in itself, good or bad, it just is...

I am also certainly not dissing Sr. Romero. I love his playing and he has been the greatest inspiration, by far, of any others in my own playing...I simply stated that, "to me" (others can disagree if they like and that is everyones prerogative), his flamenco playing does not have the gritty qualities I associate with the Andalusian Flamenco. A sound I came to appreciate during the time that I spent listening to the genre in the land of its birth.

I also happen to believe that Pepe owns the "quintessential performance" of Aranjuez but that doesn't mean I dislike Pacos. It is simply a different approach which I readily appreciate and enjoy but again, for me (rest assured my comments are pertaining to my tastes only and not some universal truth) it does not leave me with the feeling that he was able to cross over into the "Classical" genre.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

liopro

Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by liopro » Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:26 pm

Adam del Monte if I'm not mistaken crosses over back and forth. To me his flamenco side much more distinct :-) As to the Pepe Romero I agree with Scott here. When he plays Sabicas's Bulerias it sounds like another classical piece perhaps a bit more rhythmic if anything. When on the other hand Moraito plays this very same palos it sounds much more authentic. IMHO of course.

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Blondie
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Blondie » Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:49 am

liopro wrote:Adam del Monte if I'm not mistaken crosses over back and forth. To me his flamenco side much more distinct :-) As to the Pepe Romero I agree with Scott here. When he plays Sabicas's Bulerias it sounds like another classical piece perhaps a bit more rhythmic if anything. When on the other hand Moraito plays this very same palos it sounds much more authentic. IMHO of course.
I agree entirely with you and Scott. Pepe is a fine classical player but actually the earlier post ironically hits the nail on the head, Pepe lacks soniquete and aire. To a classical guitarist it might sound like the real deal but to flamenco aficionados he simply isn't in the running, there are amateurs on the Foro playing at a higher level than that.

The discussion seems to have now become 'can one play at a high level at both styles?' which is different to asking whether one should pursue classical first in order to learn flamenco.

For the former issue I think its possible, but very rare. Adam is a great current example, so is Grisha Goryachev, I have huge respect for both, but with both their choice of classical performance repertoire is pretty telling (Spanish, South American etc).

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Cloth Ears
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Cloth Ears » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:23 am

Cañizares, who used to play on stage with PdL recently recorded Granados' 'Goyescas' Suite. While also a Spanish composer, this music is highly coloured late Romantic music, quite atypical of a flamenco guitarist. It was composed for piano.

If you believe in yourself, you can do what you wish: Classical and Flamenco are not incompatible.

A major difference is how the left hand musculature approaches the neck in the 'neck up with footstool' (classical) and 'neck horizontal with crossed leg' (flamenco). I have always played with crossed leg, but this does mean that my own arrangements may differ from more commonly used classical arrangements just for the sake of comfort. I still approach classical with sensitivity, just as I approach flamenco with sensitivity but how this achieved is quite different depending on the piece.

Even so, Blondie is right: if you are only interested in Flamenco, then classical may teach you some dexterity and how to approach the neck but not much else with regards to the dynamics of Flamenco.

I do find that studying Classical is a great break from studying Flamenco and I can swap between the two to keep things fresh. It also leads you to music theory and analysis which is very useful for composition. Furthermore CG is far easier on the nails and strings than FG.

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Les Montanjees
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Re: Classical guitar as foundation for flamenco?

Post by Les Montanjees » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:39 pm

Cloth Ears makes an important point about playing position and comfort. I learned flamenco first and was taught the old way to play, with the lower bout propped on my right leg and both feet flat on the floor. I'm really at ease with that position when I play flamenco, but it doesn't work for CG. Now I'm starting to play CG I'm really struggling to find a comfortable way to hold the instrument securely enough so that it doesn't wobble around. A Murata guitar rest helps a lot but it's not perfect. You may run into the same problem further down the track, so just keep that in mind.

And as others have hinted, there's a world of difference between the virtuosos and the village gypsy. Paco was tremendously exciting and his technique was breathtaking, but sometimes the village gypsy is the one who will bring you to tears, even though the technique may be rough as guts. Or the reverse might be true for you. It might serve you best to immerse yourself in the genre as much as you can for a while before deciding which way you want to go. Learn palmas and get the counting and timing into your heart and soul before you get too much into the guitar techniques. And definitely get some lessons!

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