Learn the 6 basic rules for flamenco guitar techniques
Flamenco guitar techniques are: tremolos, picados, arpeggios, rasgueos and picados.
Learn these 6 techniques to perform flamenco fluently:
- Picado: Single-line scale passages performed by playing alternately with the index and middle fingers, supporting the other fingers on the string immediately above. Alternate methods include using the thumb rapidly on adjacent strings, as well as using the thumb and index finger alternately, or combining all three methods in a single falseta
- Rasgueado: Strumming done with outward flicks of the right hand fingers, done in a variety of ways. A nice rhythmic roll is obtained, supposedly reminiscent of the bailador’s (flamenco dancer’s) feet and the roll of castanets. The rasgueo can be performed with 5, 4, or 3 fingers.
- Alzapúa: A thumb technique which has roots in oud plectrum technique. The right hand thumb is used both up and down for single-line notes and/or strumming across a number of strings. Both are combined in quick succession to give it a unique sound.
- Arpegio: In flamenco, both ‘ordinary’ – up the strings from lower notes to higher; and ‘reverse’ – down the strings from higher notes to lower; or the two together – up the strings then back down from lower noters to higher notes and down again on the lower notes.
- Tremolo: Rapid repetition of a single treble note, often following a bass note. Flamenco tremolo is different from classical guitar tremolo, it is usually played with the right hand pattern p-i-a-m-i which gives a 4 note tremolo. classical guitar tremolo is played p-a-m-i giving a 3 note tremolo. Or it may be used as an ornament to a chord, in which case it is done on the highest chord string finishing with a thumb across all the strings that make the chord. This creates a very quick trill followed by a full bodied thumb.
- Glisando: While holding a finger down on a note at one fret, sliding the finger up the frets of that string to glide the finger through a series of notes up or down (lower to higher of higher to lower); occasionally also used in flamenco.
Seco, or sometimes referred to as ‘Sorda’ (literally ‘quiet’, but here meaning ‘muffled’; as opposed to ‘Fuerte’ – ‘Strong’): A technique where the left hand damps the strings at the chordal tonic and the right hand plays purely rhythmic components. This creates a chugging like sound that greatly accents the rhythm, allowing the singer or dancer to play off the beat, creating a strong contra-tempo feel.