You are studying flamenco? You want to improve your rhythmical skills? Or you’d like to be able to confidently join flamenco sessions (juergas) with other people or accompany dance classes? That’s great! And for all of that „Compás“ will be the gentle coach, the brave and patient companion you’ve always been longing for, and it’ll bring you up to make enormous progress in a short period of time. By the way, soon there will be other interesting articles about learning in general and how to learn flamenco in particular, so come over to my website once in a while to check the new content.
In the following I’m going to explain, why and how to use the album „Compás“ while working on your flamenco skills:
First of all, „Compás“ is the perfect tool for every „flamenco“ (dance, guitar, singing or other instruments) such as beginners, intermediate or advanced learners. Professionals all over the world – not only the „maestros“ in Spain – use it for their daily routines, workshops, rehearsals and regular classes.
„Compás“ consists of 116 tracks of all relevant flamenco styles, rhythms and velocities in the most typical and motivating percussion patterns. The natural sound of the originally recorded samples makes „Compás“ sound very authentic. Palmas (hand clapping), Shakers, Djembe and other sounds were carefully recorded in studio quality and set to rhythms with the experience of a professional flamenco musician/dancer.
Flamenco is a very rhythmical way of expression and if you would like to enjoy performing it with other people, rhythm will always be the base of musical „communication“ and your rhythmical skills will be necessarily demanded. But, even if you’re studying at home, it’s much more fun to really dive into the feeling and taste of „contratiempos“ (off-beats). We are musicians/dancers, for us, rhythm is not mathematics – it is sensual. So taste it and enjoy it! Of course, it is not impossible to improve your sensual rhythm with metronomes or similar helpers. But don’t work hard filing, sanding, rubbing the stone to get it smooth, put it in the river and the water will do.
WHY NOT USE ONE OF THOSE OTHER FLAMENCO METRONOME APPS?
Because most of them do not sound natural nor authentic.* You can also use a simple metronome to study rhythm, but with a great sounding percussion group sitting next to you, it is much more joyful and you know what? The joy will move you forward, because your brain is building new connections while having fun. With so called „discipline“ and forced regularly but joyless routines it will take much longer to improve and even you might lose your passion and interest. So better be clever and intentional having fun with „Compás“ while playing, singing or dancing – don’t you think?
*One exception is the app „flamenco-compas-builder„, which uses the same sounds as this album. It is also a great tool with slightly a different concept as you can not only study with flamenco rhythms but also build and create your own rhythmical structures. But, of course, if you’re looking for a fine percussion companion, this app will serve perfectly too.
WHAT ABOUT VISUAL FEEDBACK – WOULDN’T IT BE HELPFUL TO „SEE WHERE I AM“?
Some of my students point out, that „orientation“ is easier while listening to flamenco rhythm AND watching a „flamenco-clock“ or other visual tools to understand „where they are“. The obvious question is: Why am I not able to understand the rhythm I’m listening to (without further visual information)? Obviously, this is music. We are using our ear, because our ears are highly specialised for this job. Be clever and don’t waste too much time: You’re training and improving the things you’re training. So if you follow the clock with your eyes, actually you are not improving the major skill to get the job done. Or even worse, this kind of exercise prevents you from moving forward and you get stuck with improving your rhythmic skills. So make sure to really focus on the ACOUSTIC information that needs to be unscrambled.
HOW? UNDERSTAND AND FEEL (FIRST STEP)
First of all: Make sure, that it doesn’t take more than half a minute to put on your „Compás“ tracks. If it takes longer than that, you might leave it, because it’ll be „too much work“ and you lose the opportunity to move forward as fast as you could.
Understand the rhythm. If you are a beginner or you’re facing a certain rhythm for the first time. You have to understand
- Where is the basic beat, the steady metronome-like beat that lies below all these sounds?
- When does the rhythmical loop start/end? And how many beats includes it?
- What are the main accents of this particular rhythm?
- Is it a rhythm of 3, 4, 6 or 12 beats?
- If you don’t get it at all – check out the basic rhythmic structure of this style. (There will be an extra blog article on that topic soon. For example: Siguiriya is a 12-beat rhythm with the following structure: 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 +2 . The first beat of each of these five parts is stressed/accentuated.)
- Be aware that the accents of the percussion instruments in the recording vary while the main accents of the rhythm always have a determined beat.
- Which is the pattern of the „palmas“ (hand-clapping) in relation to the main accents?
Feel the rhythm by trying to use your voice, palmas, feet … to rebuild/imitate it and speak it out loudly. Like „Boom, chakatan, chakatan“ or similar …
Don’t skip this step! You won’t be able to dance a waltz without understanding the „ONE, two, three“, right? It’s the same with flamenco.
HOW? PALO/STYLE (SECOND STEP)
„Compás“ includes all relevant flamenco rhythms, „Palos“ (styles) and velocities. Due to the fact, that some of the flamenco styles are musically very diverse but rhythmically similar, here comes a list, which of the recordings can be used for practicing others as the named style:
ALEGRÍA: Bambera, Caña, Cantiñas, Caracoles, Guajira, Mirabrás, Peteneras, Polo, Romera, Soleá por Bulería
BULERÍA: Alboreá, Canciones/Cuplé por Bulería, Fandangos abandolaos (Rondeña, Verdiales, Jabera), Finales por Guajira/Petenera/Soleá …, Jaleos extremeños,
COLOMBIANA: Garrotín, Mariana, Milonga, Rumba, Tangos, Zambra
FANDANGO: Vals-Bulería, Jaleos extremeños, Canciones por Bulería
FARRUCA: Taranto, Tientos
GARROTÍN: Colombiana, Mariana, Milonga, Rumba, Tangos, Zambra
GUAJIRA: Alegría, Bambera, Peteneras, Soleá por Bulería
JALEO: Bulería, Fandangos abandolaos
RUMBA: Colombiana, Garrotín, Mariana, Milonga, Tangos, Zambra
SEVILLANAS: The „Sevillanas“ have a unique structure with certain stops, so that this rhythm should be reserved for this particular style.
SIGUIRIYA: Cabales, Debla, Liviana, Martinete, Serrana, Toná
SOLEÁ: Caña, Polo, Slow practicing of other 12-beat rhythms such as Alegría, Guajira, Soleá por Bulería
SOLEÁ POR BULERÍA: Alegría, Bambera, Caña, Cantiñas, Caracoles, Guajira, Mirabrás, Peteneras, Polo, Romera
TANGOS: Colombiana, Mariana, Milonga, Rumba, Tangos,
TANGUILLO 01: Often used for solo guitar pieces
TANGUILLO 02: Special and traditional way of the „Tanguillo de Cádiz“
TIENTOS 01: Often used in dance classes/choreografies. Can be used also for Slow Tangos and any 4-beat exercises
TIENTOS 02: More rhythmical and typical for the accompaniment of the singing of the „Tientos“
VERDIALES: Bulería, Fandangos abandolaos, Jaleos extremeños, Sevillanas, Vals-Bulería
ZAMBRA: Colombiana, Garrotín, Mariana, Milonga, Rumba, Tangos
ZAPATEADO: Guitarists or dancers studying triplet parts will love this one.
There are some famous „palos“ without any rhythm, that you obviously won’t find in this description, such as: Cartagenera, Fandangos personales, Granaina, Levantica, Malagueña, Minera, Murciana, Taranta, Vidalita
BIG VELOCITY GAPS?
There might be big gaps of 20 bpm at first glance, but it is not, if you know how to use „Compás“ as a pro. For example, the rhythm of the „Alegría“ is the same as the rhythm of the „Soleá por Bulería“, though according to their typical chords, melodies, atmosphere etc. these styles don’t have anything in common. But, as the „Compás“ tracks of these two styles have complementary velocities, using both of them will provide you a almost seamless range from 70, 80, 90 … up to 160 bpm. Another important pair of flamenco styles would be „Tangos“ and „Rumba“. They have slightly different accents but, in most cases, you’ll be perfectly able to use one of them for your studies and find the perfect velocity.
WHERE CAN I GET THIS AMAZING TOOL?
You will find „Compás“ for free on all common streaming platforms or as MP3 compact disc …
If you have any question concerning the use of the „Compás“ album or other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’d be glad to hear from you.