Flynn Amps and the value of enthusiasmK is for Knopfler, MarkM is for Modes

F is for Flamenco guitar and its techniques
August 16, 2013

Flamenco is a very famous guitar style. It has featured in a great deal of popular culture and is one of the most instantly recognisable styles to guitarists and non-guitarists alike. In the fifteenth century the invasion of southern Spain by the Moors from North Africa resulted in various interesting and exotic (from a western point of view) influences on the music of Spain. As a result the music of Spain, especially the southern regions, developed a unique character compared with the classical music of its Northern neighbours.

Flamenco playing often requires a strong attack with the thumb to bring out a bass melody. The approach is often far more aggressive than that used in classical guitar playing; quite often rest strokes are used with the thumb in order to achieve a louder more pronounced tone. Fast and highly melodic scale runs are a feature of flamenco playing. Sometimes slurs and legato can be used to facilitate playing such runs at speed but the ability to alternate the middle and index fingers rapidly while picking is the main requirement of the accomplished flamenco guitarist.

Tremolo – this involves using the picking hand fingers in a repeated, quick, flowing pattern to play one note smoothly over and over. This technique is often used to play a melody on the top string and can be considered a method of reproducing the very long sustain that can be more easily produced on bowed or wind instruments. Various finger patterns can be used for a tremolo but the most common is repetition of A M I.

Rasgueado (or Rascuedo) – this is the quintessential flamenco strumming technique. The strumming hand is held tightly closed, then the strings are played by releasing the fingers in quick succession; the fingers roll rapidly across the strings, striking them one after another with the front of the nails. The resulting sound is distinctive and powerful.

Golpe – this is a percussive effect produced by striking the body of the guitar with the ring finger. Golpes are used to accent and emphasise points within the rhythm of the piece. Flamenco guitars are fitted with perspex golpe plates to avoid damaging the finish of the instrument.