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Lewey8705 - Posted - 04/08/2007:  14:54:48

I would like to get into playing hispanic/flamenco music. Does anybody know any good theory tips/chord suggestions/beginner's music sheets/tab I should check out? Thanks

Scarecrow - Posted - 04/08/2007:  17:23:09

Deep stuff, Flamenco. Check the history, hear the different branches of the tradition, think long and hard. Then find a teacher if you can. Good luck.

"A man's gotta know his limitations."

banjovy - Posted - 04/08/2007:  21:51:36

First, you would have to make a choice of what you want to study. Flamenco and "Hispanic" music are such broad terms and music styles, you would have to narrow it down somehow. The rasqueados( very rhythmic right hand finger "strums") that would need to be performed in Flamenco on the banjo would require you NOT to use fingerpicks.

scotty22 - Posted - 04/09/2007:  01:06:44

On Banjo?..

For guitar, I can recommend the Juan Martin volumes I & II. I see now that there is material on the Homespun series as well. If banjo, then I would suggest listening to as much flamenco music as you can, assimilate the modes, forms and odd meters, then apply what you've learned to the banjo.

pweller - Posted - 04/09/2007:  17:55:17

As far as Hispanic music is concerned, I've always wanted to replace the strings on my tenor with nylon ones and learn Venezuelan "cuatro" music. The cuatro is a guitar-like instrument with...get ready...four strings!! Anyways, it sounds really cool by itself and I think a resonator can only heighten the appeal.

banjovy - Posted - 04/10/2007:  01:45:29

He took time to give me some tips on flamenco rasqueados at a guitar workshop. He's an excellent teacher and can play his butt off!! I'm not totally familiar with his Flamenco method books, but I'm sure they are very informative based on his teaching/playing credentials.

matrixbanjo - Posted - 04/11/2007:  08:26:09

After you've learned the flamenco, put it on the B-H jukebox. I really would like to hear how it sounds on banjo.

Banjo..? What banjo?

alanrockwood - Posted - 04/15/2007:  00:42:21

Not exactly a direct answer to your question but relevant nevertheless:

Joe Bethancourt - Malaguena Clawhammer

What do you think?

bong - Posted - 04/16/2007:  17:54:04

I was born in Spain 60 years back and live in Spain for 60 years today. I play spanish and electric guitar, bass and 5-str banjo and I want to learn 19 frets tenor. I don' dare to say flamenco on banjo can be letal. One of the bands I like more is Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, except for John McEuen playing MalagueƱa. It seems to me that banjo is not the instruments that best fits spanish music. Just my opinion.

bong - Posted - 04/16/2007:  17:54:26

I was born in Spain 60 years back and live in Spain for 60 years today. I play spanish and electric guitar, bass and 5-str banjo and I want to learn 19 frets tenor. I don' dare to say flamenco on banjo can be letal. One of the bands I like more is Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, except for John McEuen playing MalagueƱa. It seems to me that banjo is not the instruments that best fits spanish music. Just my opinion.

scotty22 - Posted - 04/16/2007:  23:30:46

Well, I wasn't going to say so, but since you did...I will agree. But if Bela is playing Bach, et al., I suppose the Malaguena is a no-brainer. But no, banjo is not the instrument for flamenco, IMO.

banjovy - Posted - 04/16/2007:  23:51:51

Well, technically if the banjo was banging out rhythmically strong "compas" so the dancers can dance and the singers can sing the alegrias, bulerias, soleares, etc. then I would say it is possible to have flamenco banjo. But, most people think of flamenco in the modern context (someone like paco de lucia(one of my favorites) playing super precise instrumental stuff w/o dancers or singers. In authentic flamenco, like many forms of music, everything revolves around the dancer and singer, so the guitar's role is strong keeper of the rhythm (compas) and the banjo, in my opinion could carry the same load. As in terms of modern instrumental flamenco, I still think the banjo would sound great in that context. It would be extremely difficult, obviously, but it would be the BOMB!

Edited by - banjovy on 04/16/2007 23:57:28

Scarecrow - Posted - 04/17/2007:  03:47:09

No reason not to try it on the 6-string banjo.

"A man's gotta know his limitations."

bong - Posted - 04/17/2007:  16:53:59

It's really difficult to explain, due to the language limitation. Any one can make arrangements swapping a guitar for a banjo. People of all over the world could like the resulting song, but I don't want imagining how it will sound at our ears here, in Spain.

As I told back in a message, I learned banjo because I like Bill Keith music; electric guitar because I like Chet Atkins. What I do not intend to, is playing Rainbow with a flamenco guitar, not so much because I am respecting the authenticity of the song but because the magic of Chet Atkins style is bound to be lost.

Flamenco-banjo is the same but in opposite sense.

Sorry for my english.

scotty22 - Posted - 04/17/2007:  21:49:07

There is a certain aesthetic that is attained with the guitar in flamenco. I'm more a purist. I don't particularly care for hearing harmonically complex music utilizing extended chord forms on a banjo either, although it can be done technically.

Having said that, I'm sure flamenco music can be played effectively on virtually any instrument, as it is a formal 'style' of music and playing. But as conventions go, there are good reasons why they exist. Like Bach by Bela on the banjo, it's cool, sounds good, but to me it's more a novelty. Same with the malaguena--to me it's more a novelty. The plunky timbre of the banjo is, IMO, not particulalrly suited to Flamenco, nor Bach. I can appreciate the risk-taking in applying new instruments to old forms, but I'm not usually that enamoured by it.

Edited by - scotty22 on 04/18/2007 01:00:05

Mirek Patek - Posted - 04/18/2007:  09:29:58

Any and all ideas about rasgueado played with right hand armed with TIM fingerpics (and with bare ring and little fingers) are highly appreciated under this topic:

(Of course I am not claiming one can play EVERY flamenco rasgueado pattern with TIM fingerpicks on place, but I am searching WHICH rasgueado patterns could be played).


Edited by - Mirek Patek on 04/18/2007 09:32:10

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 04/18/2007:  17:28:50

Since the 18th century most quatros have been a 5 string or 5 course instrument. Even the Charango (the small Andean instrument frequently made from an armadillo shell) has 10 strings tuned in unisons and octaves.

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:
I also have some G tunes in F tuning on the web at

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 04/18/2007:  18:04:18

I was a flamenco guitarist back in the 60s and played for 2 different dance schools as well as a small troup. I've been playing the banjo since before I took up flamenco guitar and have played in just about every non-scruggs based style out there. So I have a fair amount of experience with both instruments.
While I do some flamenco RHYTHMS on the 5 string banjo, I simply don't find that the rasqueados or the harmonies work that well. I may be too far into the guitar sound for it and therefore unable to accept the idea of banjo doing the job - but that is an opinion not based on a half hour of puttering around with a solea, or ten minutes worth of fandango playing.
I used to do a sevillanas on the banjo but that was actually based on a rock and roll tune (Walk Don't Run) not on any actual Sevillanas.
I think the problem is twofold. The banjo has little sustain so the rasqueados never really get a good "roll" going unless it is very fast. But tempo is dictated by the overall speed of the piece. The other lack is bass. Guitar is like a paino - it has a wide range and you can play fairly deep bass against a high midrange or even into a true treble. Banjo simply doesn't have that last octave of bass and always sond thin.
I used to play an electric flatpicked guitar against a friend on acoustic flamenco. Sometimes we would switch instruments and occasionally I would play recorder or he would do some harmonica (full chromatic - I don't think flamenco keys are possible on Marine Band). It was fun and if I had been playing banjo at the time I definately would have included it in the mix. Obviously no one would call it "Flamenco Puro" but nobody would say that about the Gipsy Kings either and we were at least playing more than just rumbas. I think there would be a place for the banjo in there too but probably not as the main rasquesado instrument. It would probably sound best played very high and perhaps using triplet rasqueados (like thumb thumb middle, thumb thumb middle) would be more condusive to a smooth sound - the 5 finger rolls are demanding and exacting. I don't recommend them for anyone who isn't serious about flamenco - it just ain't somethig you can expect to turn into a "special effect" with a few days study. One could possibly use fingerpicks and still play the triplet ras I mentioned above substituting the A finger (ring) for the middle, but I doubt a thumb pick would survive the roll.
In fact most Americans seem to be happy with a little of the old Am, G, F, E format which may well be more common in Mexican folk than flamenco. I remember a couple of "newgrass" songs with that progression in the instrumentals and can't say I found them particularly interesting, but others might.
Perhaps if a bluegrass band were to get that Mexican thing going where the song is in 4/4 but the music is in 6/8 (It was always flat out amazing to me that anyone could do it - I certainly never could. I just did the Mariachi strum and let someone else do the singing) I would like that. I've always been a sucker for that style and if there were no trumpet (I find it terribly wearing on my tinnitus) I woudl probably own a dozen mariachi cds.
For American takes on that style I recommend the spanish language albums of Joan Baez and Linda Ronstadt. For the most exciting Mexican voices I've ever heard look fo the recordingss of Mercedes Sosa and Lydia Mendoza - I'm a sucker for great female voises too. Lila Downs does a very modern jazz styled version of this.
In flamenco I recommend throwing out the Gipsy Kinks and finding some Juan Serranos albums for an idea of flamenco guitar taken to a high solo art. Ther are others but I know he is in print in the US. For dance rhythms I'm still listening to my Carman Amaya records from the 40s. I don't know if any of the flamenco I really liked from teh 60s is still available but I've heard a number of Mexican flamenco records from the 80s that sounded like the stuff coming out of Spain in the 60s. All tehre seems to be now is the Rumba bands and "crossover" stuff - bad jazz riffing on top of mostly more rumbas. I have always hated rumbas - nothing against the Cuban pop dance craze of the 40s, but the "Rumba Flamenca" as introduced in the 50s and 60s. Hated it in the 60s hate it today. Will stop hating it when I die.
End of flamenco rant #62-155

The Whiskey Before Breakfast variations and a few tunes in "F" tuning are now available on the web at:
I also have some G tunes in F tuning on the web at

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