So you want to learn Flamenco Guitar? Tips for how to play Andalusian Cadence chords


By Andy Feldman:
Flamenco
is one of the most inspirational guitar styles anyone can learn. Part of the
attraction is that flamenco is one of the oldest and most recognisable
classical styles, and even guitarists who play hard rock and metal styles can
benefit from learning flamenco chords and playing techniques.
The
technical term for flamenco chord progression is Andalusian cadence, owing to
flamenco’s origins in Spain. Andalusian cadence is important to many types of
music, and was especially popular during the 1960s and 1970s when rock music
initially came to the fore. This style is unique in that it isn’t a traditional
cadence, but repeats throughout a piece of music.

The Birth of
Andalusian Cadence
Despite
its name, it is believed than Andalusian cadence finds its roots in Greece, the
pattern making its way to Spain via Mediterranean shipping routes rather than
across mainland Europe. Chord progression as we know it today, much like
flamenco music itself, wouldn’t emerge until the Renaissance era.
Claudio
Monteverdi, the Italian composer and Catholic priest, is widely regarded as the
first to cite Andalusian cadence in a piece of work, a book published in 1638. 
Denominations and
Keys
A guitar
set up with standard tuning will allow flamenco music to be played relatively
easy, as it needs only a few keys (you can use the below chord chart for guidance). This is why you see children starting to
learn guitar at an early age being schooled in flamenco styles, despite many
thinking they should be learning new and modern techniques.
In
addition to the standard techniques, there are also derivative keys that can be
played, pioneered by flamenco legend Ramon Montoya in the early 20th century,
which create six flamenco chord progressions in total. We’ll now go through all
of these, before finishing with a look at flamenco techniques:
Por Arriba
This is
the most common Andalusian cadence to learn, starting at A minor and
progressing to G, F, and E.
Por Medio
The
second and final basic key, this one starts with D minor, before moving to C,
B♭, and A.
The
following four derivative keys stem mainly from the first two, and are easy to
pick up once you’ve mastered the basics. You need to use a capo on your
fretboard to help you achieve these keys.
Por Levante
Starting
at B minor, progress to A, G, and F♯. Place the capo on your second fret to
play in por levante.
Por Granaina
The capo
stays on the second fret for por granaina, but this time you start at E minor
and follow with D, C, and B.
Por Minera
Move the
capo to the fourth fret of your guitar; start from C♯ minor and progress to B,
A, and G♯:
Por Rondena
Keep the
capo where it is, and play F♯ minor into E, D, and C♯.
These six
keys will help you to master flamenco chords and add them into your repertoire.
Flamenco Techniques
To get
the most out of your flamenco playing, you need to master the techniques
associated with the genre. The two most popular are Golpe and Rasgueado, both
of which are briefly summarised below.
* Golpe
is the technique of tapping your guitar as you play; this is why flamenco
guitars have a plastic cover.
*
Rasgueado
is the most common flamenco technique, which involves flicking the
fingers from a closed fist position with your thumb resting on the E string.
You’re all
ready to go. You know the history of Andalusian cadence, and you know what to
do to master it; all you need to do now is follow the mantra of practice makes
perfect.
About
Andy Feldman:
Andy
Feldman is a passionate guitar player who has been using the online resources
at Pro Music Tutor to hone his technique and skill set. Andy found that
learning flamenco styles made it easier for him to adapt to other techniques,
and would recommend it to any new guitarist.

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