Head. The head of the guitar.
Flamenco rhythm box. This is a wooden box that looks something like a small tea chest with a round sound hole
cut out of the rear face. A performer sits on this and reaches down to beat on the front face.
Gypsy word for Gypsies
Spanish Gypsy language
Bells. A musical section in Zapateado, which imitates the sound of bells.
Bell ringers. Traditional these are songs sung during religious processions that begin at dawn. They are
accompanied by the ringing of small bells. The tradition of bell ringing is also connected with religious
activities in monasteries. Campanilleros are not really flamenco but are nonetheless still sung and played by
some artists as part of their repertoire. The words Campanillero (singular) and Campanilleros (plural) are
commonly interchangable and mean exactly the same thing.
Means 'little song'. This is the third of the three general classifications of flamenco songs. Lighthearted,
festive or folkloric style songs and dances.
Means 'important song'. This is the first of the three general classifications of flamenco songs. These are the
so-called basic songs, considered the earliest forms of flamenco. By nature, they are also Cante Jondo.
Means 'middle song'. This is the second of the three general classifications of flamenco songs. It is an
arbitrary 'middle' classification between Grande and Chico. Some would argue that this somewhat grey area is an
academic fabrication and has no real meaning in the true scheme of things. This may be so, but it does make
flamenco forms a little easier to understand.
Deep song. A style of singing. To the untrained ear, the sounds of Cante Jondo seem harsh and primitive and are
not everybody's cup of tea to be sure. The powerful emotion expressed by a singer at close range is
frightening. I, for one, have never gotten used to it, despite it's important role in flamenco, and prefer the
more lyrical and melodic song forms. Jondo style songs are passionate and profound and can be found in both
'Grande' and 'Intermedio' classifications.
A family of song forms from Cádiz which include Alegrías , Romeras , Mirabrás , Rosas and Caracoles. According
to Donn Pohren, "the word was originally used to describe medieval songs from Galicia, in Northern Spain.
Today, it's meaning is extended to signify popular song.....The cantes listed above therefore, are no longer
referred to as Cantiñas (but by their specific names). The notable exception is Alegrías, which many cantaores
and aficionados name Alegrías or Cantiñas interchangeably." We'll have take his word for it on this last point.
The way I see it, it can be a little confusing when you consider that Cantiñas is also the name of a specific
form of Alegrías played in the key of C, whereas Alegrías is played in the key of A and can sound quite
different. Furthermore, Alegrías is the only one from this lot that has a silencio section. Structurally,
Cantiñas (the family of songs) are the same as Soleá, except for subdued accent on the count of 12. Depending
on who you speak to, some consider this classification of these Alegrías style songs outdated and meaningless.
A post on the flamenco list sums it up: "...I recalled a conversation where people were debating whether
Alegrías was a generic name for a family of cantes which include Cantiñas -- or vice versa. With el cante, I
often find that the 'answers' to questions like this are more confusing than I bargained for. So I think the
real answer is just to keep listening and enjoying."
Abbreviation of Capotasto. Italian word. (Capo = at the beginning, Tasto = guitar finger board). A transposing
device fixed across the strings to raise the pitch. Traditionally, its purpose is to pitch the guitar to a
(Song and dance form) One of the group of songs known as Cantiñas. Caracoles means snails, which gives an
indication of its lighthearted nature. It was developed in Madrid in the 19th century. It is rhythmically
identical to Alegrías, the only difference being the key (C Major), different chord sequences and nonsense
One of the oldest flamenco song forms originating in the prisons of Andalucia. The cante describe the singer's
loss and freedom and jail life. See also TONAS
Carlos Montoya (1903-1993) was a gypsy born in Madrid. Around 1940 he became an American citizen and went on to
record a multitude of records, gaining himself a huge following the world over. He began playing when he was 8
years old. His famous uncle Ramon refused to teach him so he took lessons from the local barber for 3 years. At
the age of 14 he started playing in the local Café Cantantes.Throughout his career he was highly criticized for
the roughness of his playing and the apparent liberty he took with compás and speed variations. He was well
aware that aficionados rarely appreciated his music. The usual complaints were that he used excessive left hand
legato, his playing was choppy and he used too much tremolo. But as he quite rightly pointed out in his own
defense, (in conversation with Brook Zern after a concert) I have filled the Houston Astrodome. No other
flamenco artist will ever do that. He said proudly that he owed absolutely nothing to his uncle and simply
refused to assimilate any of Ramon's immeasurable contributions to flamenco. It is easy to criticize the man,
but the fact remains that Carlos Montoya played a significant role in raising international awareness of
Carmen Amaya was one of the best known flamenco dancers. In the '40s and '50s, this exotic Gypsy woman won
international acclaim performing for such notable people as Roosevelt and Churchill. From the age of four she
performed alongside her father in the taverns and music halls of Barcelona. By the time she reached her teens,
she was already well known to audiences in Madrid and Paris. During the 1930's, she traveled the world and
performed to enthusiastic audiences everywhere she went. The people of North and South America fell in love
with Carmen Amaya-the embodiment of Spanish pride and passion. She went on to make films in Hollywood and
appeared on Broadway, often accompanied by the great guitar virtuoso, Sabicas. And though she triumphed on
stages all around the world, she always remained true to her Gypsy heritage. Throughout most of her performing
life, her huge company was made up almost entirely of her extended family, and they traveled together in the
traditional Gypsy way, sharing their luck as well as their hardships. And hardship indeed fell on Carmen Amaya.
In 1963 at the age of 50, she died in her native Barcelona of kidney failure.
Adapted from the essay by Robert Withers and Meira Goldberg
(SONG FORM. TOQUE LIBRE) A Fandangos based song taking its name from the area of origin, Cartagena. One of the
songs known as Cante de Levante. It is believed to have evolved from the Tarantas.
A pair of wooden plates held together in one hand, which provide rhythmic accompaniment during a dance. Also
(SONG AND DANCE FORM. CANTE JONDO) A song form with exactly the same compás and accompaniment as Soleá. The
only difference is it's distinct Ay Ay Aye's and the melodic line. It's significance lies in the widely
accepted theory that this early song form helped give birth to Soleá. True to the tradition of inconsistency in
flamenco, there are those who believe that the Caña came after Soleá.
The Spanish word for Capo. Ceja means little eyebrow. The traditional cejilla has a curved top, resembling an
eyebrow, to accommodate the wooden tightening peg.
(Song and dance form) A carefree style of Tanguillos with the emphasis on spontaneity and humor.
Traditional wooden tuning pegs on the guitar. Clavija means bolt.
Modern geared machine heads for tuning the guitar.
(Song and dance form) A delightful song form based on the melodies and rhythms of Colombian folk music. This
form was brought to prominence by Carmen Amaya and Sabicas. For those who like a good argument, it has been
suggested that Colombianas, like Rumba and Guajiras, is a variation on the Argentinean Tango.
Rhythm, beat, meter. The basic element of flamenco rhythm. Specifically, Compás is a recurring pattern of
accented beats analogous to a bar of music. This dictates the unique rhythmic structure of any given song
The international tuning pitch - For the guitar this is A = 440 oscillations a second. It's amazing how many
guitarists refuse to acknowledge that there is such a standard. There is nothing more annoying than rocking up
to a rehearsal or performance venue to find that the other guitarist(s) are out of tune for whatever reason.
All you can really do sometimes is grit your teeth and whistle, 'Don't worry, be happy'. Attempting to tune
your instrument to the non standard pitch while dancers and palmeros are making lots of noise is no fun,
especially when you take on the aura of the villain, because you are holding up proceedings while you tune.
Life is so unfair.
Syncopated rhythm. Counter rhythms.
A verse from a song. The word colpa is also used to describe the various sections of Sevillanas and
(TOQUE LIBRE) Literally means 'Moorish dance'. This form is heavily influenced by the Arabic style of music and
dance. See also ZAMBRA
Of or from. Many artists have stage names which mean something like 'Jack from London'. Paco de Lucía explains
that when he was young there were so many Pacos in the neighborhood, that the convenient way to tell them apart
was to call then after their mother's names. His mother's name was Lucia.
Dance steps which indicate an approaching break in the dance. A climactic point in the dance which is usually
introduced by a llamada.
Fingerboard of the guitar. Possibly from the Greek 'Dia Pason Chordon' (through all the strings.
The trance like fixation, or haunting feeling one may experience while enjoying a flamenco performance. Duende
is an inner spirit, which is released as a result of a performer's intense emotional involvement with the
music, song and dance. Read the complete esssay.