The sounds of the flamenco guitar are iconic, I have no idea that if you’ve been learning to play classical guitar you’ve wondered how different or difficult it may be to learn how to get to grips with this exciting sound. Well there’s good news, it’s actually really fun to learn and play flamenco and it’s not so dissimilar to the style you’ve already been getting used to. Let us take a look at a few of the techniques you’ll need to get to grips with if in order to begin learning, and of course having fun.
Arpeggio and Picado
Firstly, I should be clear that the techniques we’re talking about today are based on playing right handed. With that in mind let’s discuss the first basic principle, much like in classical guitar playing you’ll be playing arpeggiated figures, using the index and middle fingers of the right hand alternatively in order to achieve melodies. Arpeggios in the flamenco style are more particular but fear not, you can use the same exercises used to master classical to build up your dexterity.
Often when playing single note melodies, you’ll be turning to a technique known as picado. Unlike the standard picking of classical guitar this will require short and fast strokes that are each muted immediately after they are struck. You can work on this by playing any of the arpeggios you have learned, making sure to hit those punchy percussive notes.
When it comes to the right thumb the difference between classical and flamenco starts becoming very evident. It’s predominantly used within the melody and the Alzapua. The difference here is that the thumb is pretty much always played using a rest stroke. In order to do this, you must push your thumb down through the active string when striking it then come to a short resting position on the string that sits below. Alzapua is certainly a specialised technique that is unique to this tone giving off a more percussive, penetrating and much louder sound. For this the thumb provides both down and up strokes through single and multiple strings which as a result strikes through both bass and chords and notes.
Rasgueo, also known as rasgueado, is a technique that is arguably the most well known of the flamenco techniques. It’s unique to the style with no true comparison in any other style. There’s a chance you may have approached the technique or something similar in classical however even then it was likely borrowed from flamenco guitar. This is a strumming technique, if you want to take command of the basics here you should first try simply stroking the strings up and down with the index finger with your right hand whilst forming a chord with your left hand. Once you’re comfortable with this try using all fingers when performing the down stroke, then have a go at change the chords until you can do this in a relaxed manner.
Keep at these techniques as they take time to develop, if you don’t give up it won’t be long until you have them sounding authentic and feeling natural to play and before you know you’ll be on your way to taking the next steps into learning this awesome style.