Can You Mix FLAMENCO and Spanish CLASSICAL Guitar Together?Feb 11, 2024
Two of My Favorite Spanish Guitar Things
From the Spanish classical realm
If I had to pick the most famous and recognizable musical theme from the Spanish classical guitar canon, I would probably choose Leyenda by Isaac Albeñiz. Also known as Asturias (from his Suite Española), this memorable theme was actually composed for piano but later transcribed for classical guitar by the great Francisco Tàrrega (of Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Capricho Árabe fame).
From the flamenco realm
Similarly, one of the most requested flamenco forms to learn from my students over the years has been, hands down, Bulerías. This form might not be the first flamenco thing your should learn, due to it's rhythmic complexity and overall tempo (among many technical challenges), but it very well could be the most exciting flamenco form to play.
Looking for similarities
Let's take these two Spanish guitar things and see what the similarities are so that we can combine them together. Exercises like this can supercharge your creativity, your technical skill and, without a doubt, your rhythmic awareness.
In this example we'll be looking at the first four bars of this classic song, which is by far the most famous part:
...notice that this theme is only made up of 2 measures even though I said we'll be looking at the first 4 bars? That's because Leyenda is usually notated in a 3/4 or 6/8 time signature, while Bulerías is counted in 12 beats. To combing the two together, we'll work with a 12/4 time signature which means Leyenda will occupy only two measures.
That's the melody of the main theme, but you're probably used to hearing it with a repeated open B string pedal tone like this:
opening theme of Leyenda (Asturias)
This is truly one of the greatest Spanish guitar "riffs" out there, so if you don't know it, learn it now!
As mentioned, Bulerías has a 12-count structure. However, there are different ways we can conceive of this form: we can start counting on the 1, on the 12, and we can even count in groups of 6. For this exercise, we'll stick to the contemporary standard way of counting this form: starting on the 12 with accents on the 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12 (beats 3 and 10 being usually the most prominent). Let's start getting used to this count by stumming down on these accents while evenly counting from 12:
Bulerías basic accent pattern
In the above example, we're muting the strings and striking them on each accent. Now try strumming down on each an every beat (you can also do a golpe on each accent as shown):
Bulerías in a new key
If you're familiar with Bulerías, you may know that it is typically centered around an A chord (using the A phrygian dominant scale). Although we could figure out a way to blend Leyenda (in the key of E minor / B phrygian) with the typical Bulerías key, it will be more fun to stay in the Leyenda key. That means we'll need to use these chords:
So if we take the chords B5 and C5 we can capture the essence of Bulerías but with a new more modern sound by adding some upstrokes between the accents:
Needless to say, this can get quite complicated. Let's delve deeper into different ways we can develop our Bulerías acumen while also working on the Leyenda theme in this tutorial:
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