Lessons and info for the nylon string guitarist

What flamenco is NOT

What flamenco is NOT

It’s not a pink birdLaugh You would think this goes without saying, but it’s amazing how many people say flamingo when they want to describe Spanish music or dance. In the minds of these people there must be some connection between a tropical wading bird and Andalucian gypsy music, but one can only speculate as to what that connection could possibly be. Perhaps if I can convince my therapist to increase my medication, I will begin to understand what this flamingo business is all about.

But let’s not be too harsh on the general public because a lot of the blame for these strange ideas has to go to inferior definitions like this;

“The word flamenco is derived from association with flamingos. The movements made during the dance are likened to those made by the elegant bird.”

Duh Duh! Talk about clueless. Even the Encarta dictionary spreads this sort of silliness. Through a bizarre twist of logic, the old Dutch word “Vlaming” (with a presumed Latin root) is touted as being theoretically responsible for two completely different words, flamingo and flamenco. Consequently, the phonetic similarity of the two words lingers on as a linguistic curse we cannot escape from.

The most unfortunate aspect of all this is that once someone has learned to say something one way, it sticks for life. Example: I know some adults who say “sumfink” instead of “something”. The flamingo – flamenco anomaly is a bit like the sloppy street language that passes for English in some chat rooms and message forums. im shure u no wot i meen.

tumbleweed In the real world, flamingo still means a pink tropical bird and can never mean anything else. To my dismay, I have discovered there is no point in trying to educate someone to say flamenco instead of flamingo. My best advice is to just take a deep breath and walk the other way because you’re in the wrong neighborhood. A flamingo is very pretty, I’ll grant you that, but it doesn’t have a clue about dancing in compás. I’ve often wondered what it tastes like.
Feeling hungry: Check out this recipe for Boiled Flamingo

Random Quotes I found on the Web

red dot Sam learned flamingo guitar at the knee of his Cuban grandfather
red dot …great fun with flamingo guitar … – CD review
red dot It has an old world flamingo flavor that puts you into the streets of Madrid – CD review
red dot …while the flamingo guitar plays softly
red dot a splash of flamingo guitar, and captivating rhythms. – CD review
red dot Hobbies: Skiing, reading, jogging and flamingo guitar
red dot has a Hawaiian flavor with a flamingo guitar riff.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a gypsy refer to a flamenco falseta as a “lick” or a “riff”.
Excuse me while I turn off my wah wah pedal.

I’m sorry. I don’t get out much. Gosh! I only recently discovered what a power chord is.
Now I know why “tuff” musicians in noisy bands sling their guitars down around their groin.

flamingo guitar player

Still confused?
Please listen closely
flamingo sound flamenco sound
Flamingo Flamenco
Get it straight – It’s FLAMENCO
Don’t be a goose ALL your life

Public perception

What flamenco means to the average person in a big city is very hazy to say the least. Apart from using the usual mispronunciations of the word, such as “flamingo“, “flamengo” and “flaminko“, many people have their own preset ideas about what flamenco is. For example, have you ever heard the term “Spanish flamenco“. I have many times and I’ve never understood it. Duhh. You gotta be thick in the head I reckon, or on drugs to come up with something as stupid as that. “What other type of flamenco is there???” Of course it’s bloody Spanish. That’s where it comes from. Jeeezz. It’s like saying, “Australian kangaroo” or “French Eiffel Tower”. Sorry, but it’s like squeaky chalk on a blackboard to me.

Restaurant “Spanish nights”

When you do a flamenco floorshow with a dance group or a couple of dancers the audience and venue manager is in no doubt what they expect. I used to enjoy those sort of gigs but I prefer to play on my own. Just me and my guitar and a small amplifier. In the past I would sometimes get a phone call from some agent I didn’t know asking if I would play some Spanish flamenco on a “Spanish theme” night. That’s a bad sign.

These days I just say no. I lost track of the number of times I’ve been booked to play solo flamenco in a restaurant, only to discover that what they really wanted was a cheap substitute for a Mariachi band

I like Mariachi music, but that’s not the point. The point is I’m not Mexican and that’s not what I do.

In the impenetrable fog of mental confusion, the typical person who dreams up one of these “Spanish nights” is no doubt thinking of a wild, festive celebration in the badlands south of the border. He must imagine flamenco to be all about boisterous, gun toting revolutionaries on horseback with Zapata moustaches shooting into the air and yelling “Ariba, ariba”. You know the deal.

It’s all stereotype stuff we’ve seen in old western movies that are typified by tumbleweeds blowing through a half abandoned town which is populated by a handful of frightened peasants in need of a hero. Then in come the baddies to gate crash somebody’s birthday party. Whooping and hollering, they lustilly drink from bottles of tequila as they take pot shots at the colorful piñatas hanging from the ceiling.

Why do I think this is what goes in the mind of the venue manager who organizes a “Spanish night?” Well, the rusty wagon wheel in the corner is a dead giveaway for a start, but then he asks me to wear a huge sombrero and walk around the tables serenading the ladies with tourist songs like Viva Espana. It’s my considered opinion that these buggers have been watching too many spaghetti westerns.

OK, let’s be honest now. Decorating an ordinary looking venue with bullfight posters, potted cactus plants and a rusty wagon wheel in the corner goes some way to create a Mexican atmosphere in the mind of the venue operator (even though it is supposed to be a Spanish night), but playing Gipsy Kings CDs during my rest breaks makes me feel like I’m letting the party down. This is the simplistic mindset that has enormous difficulty distinguishing between Spain and Mexico. They say Spanish, but in reality, the head is in Mexico. Fine. Who am I to fight against such an fixed world view.

I swear one day I’m going to walk on stage wearing a poncho, a low brimmed hat and a menacingly look. Sure, I agree, It’s got nothing to do with flamenco. But neither does bullfight posters and Gipsy Kings CDs. Anyway, that oughta break the ice. It’s all about atmosphere boys and girls. After that, you can play campfire guitar music from a spaghetti western for all it matters to the non flamenco audience. As long as it sounds Spanish, who cares…. All right! That’s probably a little too cynical. Forgive me. No. On second thoughts don’t forgive me. I meant every word of it. Bloody Gringos.

Jose Feliciano
Jose Feliciano has a special place in my heart. He was one of my earliest guitar inspirations back in the 60’s and some of his songs still bring a tear to my eye. Feliciano has been described as “the original crossover artist”. With over 65 albums and 6 Grammy awards to his credit, he certainly deserves my admiration for these remarkable achievements, especially since he taught himself how to play the guitar. I would just like to point out here that the word ‘flamenco’ does not appear anywhere in his bio.

I have personally never heard any tracks based on a 12 beat compás in any of the recordings I’ve listened to. This comes as no surprise to me since traditional flamenco is not what he’s famous for. Try telling that to record companies and tour promoters. In the past they have played a major role in spreading their own misconceptions, by billing artists such as Jose Feliciano as “flamenco guitarists“. Consequently when playing in a restaurant, one of the questions I am asked after plugging the guitar lead into the amplifier is “Where’s your microphone?”.

The Gipsy Kings
Just so you know, I occasionally receive emails from Gipsy Kings converts who swear I’ve lost my mind. How dare I say the Gipsy Kings are not flamenco artists? I plead innocent your honor, since I am only repeating what they say themselves. Information from Gipsy Kings web sites describes their music like this: “What the Gipsy Kings play today is traditional Spanish Gypsy music taken one step further. It has been called Flamenco-Rumba and while its roots are in Flamenco, the more up-beat rumba is what we know them for.”

Nicolas was most profoundly drawn to folkloric styles such as Cante Jondo while his brothers favored Rumba-Flamenca, which was easier to dance to. There was no conflict between them as the band moved in a pop direction while holding onto the raw, jagged vocals and “palmas” clapped rhythms derived from their Spanish heritage.

“Flamenco”, explains Nicolas, “is the purest essence of our music – we could compare it to Jazz music. It is the deep shout and tears of our community. Rumba-Flamenca is the popular expression of Flamenco…..Today, with the coming of new technologies, faster development and diffusion and, hopefully, with the renunciation of racial and social prejudice; it is natural that traditional music will change.”

In other words, they acknowledge their style has its ROOTS in flamenco. That is very different from saying that flamenco is what they actually play and sing. If you want to criticize me because of the way I comb my hair, that’s fine. But please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m not rubbishing the Gipsy Kings at all. I like their music a lot. In fact, Tonino Baliardo is one of my guitar heroes but…..
here comes the big BUT
it’s not flamenco.

Ottmar Liebert
The Gipsy Kings are in a class of their own when it comes to non flamenco music. They know what flamenco is and they made a conscious decision to move towards pop. But there is another wave of recording artists that use the word flamenco on their CD covers. These are the flamenco pretenders. I give Ottmar Liebert’s ‘Nouveau Flamenco’ album the credit for starting the mango fandango craze, a strange hybrid of supermarket music and Latin pop. Most of it is four beat pop music, which uses the success of the Gipsy Kings as a springboard for it’s inspiration.(I hope that doesn’t sound too unkind, but hey, the words are transmitted to me by an alien spirit guide. I just write it all down.)

bored I saw Ottmar Liebert live in Adelaide with a flamenco dancer friend of mine. I had heard his albums but she had no idea what to expect. I sort of enjoyed it in the beginning but after a while the numbers started sounding very similar, both melodically and rhythmically. After an hour and a half I noticed my friend suppressing yawns. She leaned over at one stage and asked, “When are we going to hear some flamenco?” Well! You guessed it. We didn’t hear ANY recognizable flamenco that night. His laid back Bulerías didn’t count. It was really nothing more than a very stylized moonlight serenade with the bulk of it consisting of going over and over unvarying chord progressions.

I remember thinking that’s a good to way to stretch out a short piece and make it a long one. I also remember thinking that perhaps part of Ottmar Liebert’s appeal is the inherent atmospheric nature of his music. It’s a sort of floaty, meditative journey designed to take you away to another head space where there is no conflicts and people are nice to each other. There’s nothing wrong with that really. The problem arises when you consciously listen to it and try to analyze it for substance. In my case, I’m looking to find the flamenco connection and always end up thinking of coconut trees and footprints in the sand. On the positive side, the percussionist in the band was excellent and was the only reason we stayed until the end. I was messing around with a file sharing client the other day and just for fun I entered the word ‘flamingo’. Guess what I came up with? “Ottmar Liebert – Barcelona nights (flamingo guitar).mp3” Well, that about sums it up I guess.

To be fair, there is nothing stopping an artist from naming an album anything he likes. It’s just some flamenco aficionados who feel that their territory has been encroached upon. Ottmar Liebert sent me an email saying the president of the record company that released his first CD in 1990, wanted to call the album “Nouveau Flamingo”. He didn’t say whose decision it was to call it “Nouveau Flamenco”. But that’s neither here nor there in the greater scheme of things. You can like this guy’s music or not, but I have no doubt he has more disposable cash that most of his critics can poke a stick at. While he drives around Santa Fe in fancy cars, all I can manage is a 20 year old rust bucket. I feel there’s a deeper message in their somewhere. In Australia we call it the “tall poppy syndrome”. The harshest critics see a successful artist and will find a way to cut him down to their level. Not me of course. I criticize everyone equally.

Armik is another good example of an artist who is stretching the boundaries of New World fusion guitar music. This man has a unique talent and his music has a soul which puts him, in my opinion, at the top of the heap in terms of sincerity and passion. I have been criticized for placing Armik in the non flamenco basket. I even stumbled upon a message in a discussion room recently where somebody suggested my website as a source of flamenco information. Another person read this and after visiting my website said; “Wow! That guy said Armik isn’t flamenco. Now I’m upset.” Well, sorry about that, but he isn’t. Or rather, his music isn’t. When I read that comment, I felt like a real cad like someone telling a small child there is no Santa Claus. Heart felt beliefs are such delicate, emotional things.

Armik’s bio on his website describes him as a “Flamenco virtuoso”. World Music fusion artists and their promoters love to throw the magic word flamenco in there somewhere, but no matter how hard they try to change the definition by implication, it is not convincing to me. Nor will it be convincing to reference sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica for another hundred years. Flamenco is what it is and it (by definition) can’t simply be changed through popular opinion, or manipulated through the mechanical act of endless repetition of a catch phrase like ‘New Flamenco’.

Unfortunately, the term ‘New Flamenco’ DOES appear to be taking root in the popular consciousness, since it shamelessly appears again and again on CD covers and in record store catalogs. In this regard, Armik is hanging his hat on the same flamenco peg as many other recording artists as a means of identifying a musical influence, rather than the generic form they actually play, whatever that is. The record buying public seems unable to distinguish between the two. I dare say most music lovers couldn’t care less anyway. That’s the sad part.

“Launching his solo career in 1994, Armik drew upon his jazz roots and flamenco passions to create a revolutionary twist on the emerging Nuevo flamenco sound. His invaluable compositions and performances cover an entire range of provocative melodies honed throughout his formative years to his delicate balancing of flamenco and classical guitar to the Latin and jazz influences that listeners hear in his music today. As a guitarist, he is one of the most adulated virtuosos of the Nuevo Flamenco genre…”
Armik’s bio

That’s nice. The problem I have with all this is that no matter how fast this “flamenco virtuoso” can play scales with a plectum, there will always be something missing from his cds. Namely flamenco music. How come it’s nearly all 4 beat rumbas? Where are the 12 beat palos and rasgueados? Hey. Come closer. I will tell you why. They are not there because this music is not flamenco. So why is it called flamenco? Beats me.

Real name: Stephen Paul
He says the name “Esteban” was given to him by Segovia during master classes in Spain, because Steven was hard to pronounce. His website describes the music as: “Original compositions or arrangements of songs from the past… classical or flamenco… world… ethnic fusion or jazz… folk songs or bossa nova… Esteban is the virtuoso for the new global awareness.” After five appearances on the Home Shopping Network, Esteban managed to sell over 50,000 albums.

My first impression on hearing some of the more Spanish sounding titles was that he fits neatly into the same general musical genre as Armik. His middle of the road, supermarket style guitar albums, with easy listening arrangements of evergreens like “Unchained Melody”, and “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” are nice if you like that sort of thing. You will not be disappointed if you are looking for a sweet Xmas present for your grandmother to replace her worn out Richard Clayderman records.

To be fair, he does actually play some earthy flamenco solos on his album “Flamenco Y Rosas”. The “Sevillanas” is sort of OK, and his “Bulerias” is not hard to listen to, even though I had trouble following the compás. It’s such a pity the rest of the album wasn’t as honest. The other flamenco sounding titles like “Malagueña”, “Tango Flamenco” and “Guajiras” were a bit of a letdown for me because they were nothing more than stylized classical guitar arrangements with flamenco titles. “Flamenco Wind” had a distinct Strunz & Farah feel about it. This is a pretty piece, but it could have been called “Bermuda Wind” if blind Freddie was listening to it through headphones. It takes a generous stretch of the imagination to hear anything even remotely flamenco-ish in it.

This unlikely commercial success, naturally enough, has smoked out critics. “Every real musician I know in town just can’t stand him,” says Eric Bart, a Phoenix jazz guitarist, with a sneer. “He’s an entertainer, not a musician. It’s the worst, most pandering watered-down Muzak.” (In his defense), Esteban says he has never heard of Mr. Bart. “I play for the masses,” he says.

Esteban goes into the non-flamenco sin bin, not because of any real fault of his own, but because CD reviewers and the general public like to refer to him as a flamenco guitarist and his style as flamenco. Shame on them. If you like easy listening style guitar evergreens, you will be delighted. If you want real flamenco my advice is, “Don’t go there“.

As a footnote, it is worth mentioning that Mr Paul had a serious automobile accident in 1980 and suffered nerve damage to his spine and to his hands. To his credit, he obviously overcame this setback and got on with his life.

Guido Luciani
Guido’s CD ‘Baja Café’ is smooth and relaxing and really laid back. It’s nice. I personally prefer the more inventive, up-beat tracks on ‘Azucar’. I also like his tasteful use of castanets. He is obviously an accomplished player with some flamenco guitar background. You see, I am a nice guy. Here is a promotional review of his album Azucar. “Azucar” is Spanish for “sugar”…. ummmmm! Stirring music with Flamenco, Brazilian, and Central American influences. Opens up the sexual chakra!” With all due respect to Mr. Luciani, this is typical of the syrupy descriptions found on the back covers of so-called New Age “flamenco” genre CD’s.

So where can you find ‘Baja Café’ and ‘Azucar’ in a music store? In the New Age section? The Latin section? Easy Listening perhaps? Well, that’s where they should be if the store owner takes the trouble to actually listen to them. Maybe there should be orientation courses where music store managers and the counter chicks are educated in music genres, styles and influences. Not much hope of that though.

Here’s a tip. Considering Guido’s influences, his CD’s are more likely to be listed in catalogs under the flamenco section by default, rather than considering Brazilian or Central American categories. To separate these CD’s, and all the other genre territory poachers, I would like to see a category called “influenced by flamenco”.

Flamenco “style” guitar teachers
What amazes me is that the CD sleeves often mention that the artist studied with some flamenco master or other. If this was true, these masters didn’t pass on much about playing clean rasgueados or the basics of Buleria or Soleá. I don’t consider myself a flamenco master, but I did have some good teachers who worked with dancers and singers. I also listened carefully to the real masters and studied close ups on videos. I can tell you I nearly gave up several times because it took over twelve months of constant practice before I could produce half decent rasgueados. No one guitar teacher has all the answers and neither do I, but I am satisfied that I did my homework.

From my personal teaching experience, I have had students come to me who say they had taken flamenco guitar lessons, but on hearing them play I could find no evidence of that. After a few tactful questions, the truth is revealed. In one typical case, it turned out that the teacher was a classical guitar teacher who dabbled in self taught South American slapping rhythms. After nine months of taking lessons from this teacher, this student had no idea what Sevillanas or Soleá was or how to play alzapur or standard triplet or five stroke rasgueados. Furthermore, he had never heard of Niño Ricardo or Ramon Monyoya. Was he learning flamenco? You tell me.

Flamenco guitar players (and dancers) can always tell if a recording artist has ever met a genuine flamenco teacher like he says, or is just bullshitting, even if they only play rumbas and romantic tunes. You can hear it in the clarity of the notes and rhythm strokes, and also in the silences and cuts. These silences and cuts are the most revealing.

The question arises that maybe some “new age flamenco” artists simply choose not to play rasgueados and rely almost entirely on single note melodies. Gosh! some of these players even prefer using a flatpick to using their fingers. Hey! That’s fine by me. Why not? Unfortunately, the perception amongst some flat picking, rock n’ roll flamenco wannabe’s is that the faster the run, the more “flamingo” it sounds – to them. And they want to play like that real bad because that’s how the girls like it; fast and furious. Oh, to be a Van Halen style guitar hero using just the fingers. How cool is that? Hmmmm? (He scratches his head and takes another sip of strong coffee) Defining flamenco in terms of picado skills alone might sound reasonable to some, but the way I see it, if you have taken the trouble to learn flamenco guitar techniques, especially from a “master”, why would you not exploit those techniques in your professional recording career. That really puzzles me. I would like to send out a personal call to any of the artists listed in the chart below. Could you please email me and explain this?

It’s a matter of instinct
Rasgueados and arpeggios become second nature if you play them enough. Speaking from personal experience, throwing in a triplet rasgueado or arpeggio passage in an improvised (or composed) number is more an unconscious action than anything else and I would not want to suppress it anyway. How can you suppress instinct? Examples of what I mean can be seen in the rasgueado sequences on my song videos. Many of these happen spontaneously and are “composed” and executed at a sub-conscious level a split second before they are played. There is no thinking involved. If my life depended on playing a song “exactly” the same, note for note and stroke for stroke, then sadly I would die. I simply cannot give that guarantee. There will be differences in the flourishes and fills and I might even decide at the time to modify the main rhythm patterns.

Learn to pedal, then forget it.
It’s not a matter of “showing off” or flaunting the goods. I’m really not that sort of performer. If I was I would probably be driving around in a brand new Porsche instead of a 20 year old a rust bucket. Anyway, part of this “naturalness” comes from the years of experience playing improvised rhythm for dancers. But the major part of it comes from the original instruction I received from genuine flamenco teachers, and of course many hours of disciplined practice. The same applies to flamenco dancing, jazz piano, tight rope walking or any other refined skill you care to name. As one dancer aptly put it, it’s like riding a bike. Once you learn it and practice it in a disciplined way, you no longer need to think about it. It just happens. The truth is, I find singing songs very difficult, so most of my mental focus is used up trying to remember chord sequences and lyrics, not to mention trying to sing in tune (something I am not very good at). The last thing on my mind is how and when I play rasgueados.

It’s there, it feels natural and I WILL exploit the skills I have. Why would I want to play just single notes or bland rhythmic patterns if these skills exist and are begging to be used? Would I not be dis-respecting my teachers if I kept the skills in the closet and never let them out for some air? I have no problem saying that the busking videos are definitely not flamenco and do not pretend to be. It’s just me messing around on the guitar. It feels good to experiment a bit. But my conscience forbids me from lying to you. I would pluck out my own eyeballs with ornamental chopsticks before I stoop to such dishonesty. The real flamenco pieces are in the flamenco section where they should be.

I seem to have strayed a bit from the point I was trying to make.
Oh Yes. I remember now.

Variety in playing techniques can naturally and dynamically enhance your music so, like I said, why not use them? I applaud the recording artists who have made a career out of producing some wonderful guitar music. But “fair crack of the whip”, as we say in Australia. If it’s not flamenco, and you know it, please have some respect for the artform and don’t use the word so loosely as if it were some sort of magic wand to sell records that are of an entirely different genre. At least give the record buying public a decent demonstration of the skills associated with traditional flamenco, not just rumba rhythms. Why don’t the majority of so-called “New Flamenco” artists use ragueados etc? Well? Isn’t that a fair question? The only reason I can think of is that real flamenco skills are simply not there to be exploited. If this be the case, then why include the word “flamenco” on the CD cover??? Most of the time the music on the CD is not even what I would call “flamenco style”. Latin guitar would be closer to the truth. Whew! I need another strong coffee.

There is a place for New Flamenco
The obvious place you might find this music played is during Latin nights at the local dance clubs. Strictly 4/4 rhythm though. It is rare indeed to find 12 beat compás on New Age/Rumba “flamenco” CDs anyway. However, danceable tracks are just one side of the story. The other face of these New Age “flamenco” CD’s is the cruisy, romantic tracks that are inevitably included on each album. It is sad that so many people call this Latin style elevator music flamenco. The real truth is that the word flamenco sounds exotic on a CD cover and it sells. Be that is may, I believe these tracks do have a place in the universe and are sure to get your chakras spinning in the right direction. This stylized ‘New Flamenco’ is perfect as ambience music in a hairdresser salon, pizza bar or shopping mall. It is also particularly nice on a secluded beach while you gaze out across a sea enjoying a tropical sunset with your lover.

ship of fools
Extract from Ship of Fools by Hieronymous Bosch (1450 – 1516)
Is this Old Flamenco?

Subjectivity is what it all about
What flamenco is or is not will always remain a matter for debate between music lovers who have no experience with traditional flamenco, and those who know a little more about the subject and are therefore able to see the wider picture.

The role that misinformation plays in the big wide uninformed world is clearly one of perpetuating myths and illusions. Because venue operators are often part of the uninformed public, it seems that any form of Latin dance music will do in a restaurant or dance club situation where “flamenco” is required or expected. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the general public’s perception of flamenco. We just have to learn to live with it. Boo Hoo. It’s OK, I’ll get over it.

Two types of flamenco fusion
There are two types of flamenco “fusion” or flamenco “pop”.

Type one fusion
The first comes from within the flamenco community itself and expresses itself as genuine flamenco artists experimenting with new ideas. The idea of mixing different musical styles with flamenco is not new. Sabicas played with a jazz saxophonist in the 30s. He also recorded an album called Rock Encounter with Joe Beck in 1966. Carlos Montoya recorded with a jazz quartet in the 50s. In more recent times, Paco de Lucía played with jazz musicians such as Santana, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea. The Flamenco-Jazz connection has been highlighted in a various artists compilation album called “SOLEÁ – A Flamenco-Jazz Fantasy

A selection of type one fusion CD’s are listed here . People who show off their Gipsy Kings CDs as the sum total of their flamenco collection are unlikely to recognize too many of the artists on this list. Flamenco fans, especially the younger generation who are actively involved in the art form, will always be tolerant of new ideas and experiments which stretch the boundaries of tradition. It’s these young flamenco artists of today, itchy to express themselves in new ways, who are likely to form the punk, pop, or blues flamenco bands of tomorrow.

Type two fusion
The second type of fusion includes the artists mentioned on the chart below. It is this genre, if you can call it that, that is the most confusing as it embraces many styles and encompasses many alien ideas about what flamenco is. To get some idea of what the general public thinks, just start up your favorite file sharing client and enter the word ‘flamenco’ in the search box. You will find a dazzling array of Mp3’s on people’s hard drives from all sorts of artists that are wrongly listed as “CATEGORY: Flamenco”, or have the word flamenco in the title. I found Miles Davis, Andreas Segovia, Los Lobos and The Eagles to name just a few. Actually Hotel California sounds pretty good in a rumba style, but…..well, you know what I’m going to say….it’s just not, that’s all.

References to flamenco music can also be found in the pop music of The Cure, Queen, The Doors and Bryan Adams. The Bryan Adams song, “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman,” is significant for the unmistakable playing of Paco de Lucía. Needless to say, if you are new to flamenco and are searching the non flamenco CD shops on the Internet in the hope of buying some genuine flamenco, you are pretty much wasting your time unless you really know what you’re looking for. That’s what this page is all about. To know what you’re looking for, you have to know what flamenco is and what it isn’t.

I rest my case

Apart from the obvious promotional brainwashing of record companies, it all comes down to stubborn subjective belief. Am I trying to change the way you think? Hell No! I’m not that stupid. My main point is that those who actually accompany dancers or singers in the traditional flamenco style have no doubt where the definitive boundaries lie. When all is said and done, what I’ve said here is nothing more than a personal perspective. Whether you take it on board or not is entirely up to you.

what flamenco is not

clint eastwood


Listen punk, the Clint Eastwood graphics are from the Clint Eastwood World Wide Web page. I didn’t steal them if that’s what you think. They are used here with permission so put your gun away.
The Mariachi “Trio” graphic is from the Mariachi Connection . Used here with permission.

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