The piece above is written in 3/4 time and notice that the accents on
the upstrokes with the thumb lies on 1 2 and 3. It sounds like
One and a Two and a Three
This is of course at a slow speed. When the speed is faster, you don't
mark the accents that much.
Now, these rasgueos that I have shown are the most common of the
strumming techniques used in flamenco. Of course there are hundreds
of variations of these used in different patterns, but I won't get in
to that ! Instead, I will show you some other techniques that are
not strumming. They are the "alzap˙a",
"tremolo" and "picado".
If you look at the Gipsy Kings or any flamenco guitarist, you soon
notice that they use their thumbs very much in different techniques.
One of these teschniques is called alzap˙a.
The name alzap˙a
(from alzar="lift" or "raise" and p˙ a="point" or "pelctrum")
comes from the use of upstrokes with the thumb in this very flamenco
its most typical form today, alzap˙
a consists of a rapidly repeated pattern of three types of strokes with
the right hand thumb. The thumb-stroke are played in the following
First, the thumb plays a downstroke chord across the strings from a
well-defined note as the lowest note of the chord that is sounded.
The note belongs to the melody and is the most important part of the
Next, the thumb plays a strong upstroke on the same chord, hitting the
strings with the edge of the nail. It is the emphasis on this
upstroke which gives the rhythm its characteristic syncopation and
Thirdly, the thumb plays a single melody note with a firm stroke on a
bass string. This string is either the same as the one the next down stroke
of the thumb starts from or, commonly, it is the next one
notation could look like this:
If you don't read notation, the chord above is A. Here, we start
with the single thumb stroke (normally you start on the down stroke with
the thumb as mentioned above on the A base string.
This technique is more like classical guitar playing. But there is
a difference between the flamenco-tremolo and the classical tremolo.
In flamenco you have 5 notes to one beat and in classical you have 4
notes to one beat. It is played with an initial thumbstroke on a
bassnote first, followed by four tirando strokes with the fingers on the
treble. It is therefor written p
i a m i
( the classical is p
a m i
). Tirando means that your striking finger does not touch
an adjacent string. The opposite is Apoyando, where you
thumb or fingers comes to rest against the next adjoining string at the
completion of the stroke. The rhythm is important and that you
strike each note with equal force and length in order for it to sound
unbroken, like running water.
is the notation:
you have a lot of numbers and letters, ley me explain. This is
also written in 3/4 time and the numbers 123 at the top mark that.
The number 5 above the notes marks that it is 5 notes to one beat.
The other numbers, at the left of each note, mark the position of your
left hand fingers ( The figures on the first page shows the fingers┤
numbers). You already know the letters I guess.
Let me explain more of the left hand finger position. This is an
Amoll chord and the first stroke with the thumb is on the loose A base
and the number 0 marks that it is a loose string. The four
following strokes ( i a m i) is made on fifth fret on the E treble
string and the number 4 marks that you use you fourth finger ( the
The next beat starts with the thumbstroke on the note E and the position
is on the second fret on your D string (first base string) with your
number 1 finger.
The following i a m i sequence is the same as before. The last
base note is taken with the third finger (3) on the fifth fret on your G
string (third treble string). That note is C.
you practice while I have a smoke.
In picado (litrerally `picked┤) playing, passages of single notes are
played with apoyando (Iexplained this on page 8) strokes of alternative
right hand fingers . The commonest method is to use alternatively with the index and middle finger. With practice, the technique can
be developed to achieve brilliant speed and attack in playing runs
of single notes. It is also used for slower passages of melody.
In flamenco, single melody notes are always played apoyando rather than
thumb rests on the E-base string and your index and middle finger are
fairly straight with the movement coming from the knuckles. You
kind of press your index finger and string downwards towards the
soundboard. After the pick, you slide over and come to rest on the
lower string above. Then follows the middle finger doing the same
thing. Then gain with your index etc.
Remember to do this with alternate strokes. You should not pick a
note with the same finger twice. for example, if your last pick
was with the index and you should go from a higher string to a lower, it's
easy just to let your index slide over to the lower. THIS IS DEAD
WRONG! You should use the middle finger for this.
Well, I guess thats all for flamenco right hand techniques, most of what
you commonly hear in flamenco spanish music are improvisations on these
basic techniques. With practice, you will become to make your own