This thing called flamenco…

Over 10 years ago, when we were leaving our idyll in the South of France, and wondering where to live, we thought about moving further north in France, to the Loire valley. We lived there for a month or so, and there were some interesting experiences. One of these was meeting a flamenco singer. 

I was warned about him before we met. He was famously rude. In fact I found him to be a really nice guy. He was strongly opinionated, but he kind of had a point. He was of a certain age, from a certain part of Spain, from a certain heritage. To him, people coming from outside of this world, and professing to be flamenco guitarists, or dancers, or singers, was just too much. He seemed to think that flamenco belonged to him, and people like him.

But he didn’t seem too rude to me. He invited me to his house, where I met his son, who played really good flamenco guitar, but actually wanted to play football! And if we’d have decided to live there, I’m sure I could of learned a lot from him.

We seemed to get on ok, I think, because my starting point was that I just wanted to immerse myself in flamenco, in his world. But I didn’t really want to be him, or pretend to be him. My take on it all would, by necessity, come from my experiences, culture, etc. Would that still be flamenco? Probably not, but maybe a topic for another time.

He was, of course, a traditionalist, and I don’t think he really liked modern flamenco music very much. At one point, when I asked about Paco de Lucia, he said something along the lines of – well of course Paco could do it, but he was unique. There is something about Paco de Lucia that bridged the traditional and modern flamenco world, but in a way that no one else was allowed to do, at least for some.

Of course I’m in awe of the man, and if you are at all interested in flamenco, you should get to know him.

This week’s video is a quickly recorded edit of a PDL piece, Aires Choqueros, concentrating on picado. This is the technique where you play very fast single notes by alternating the index and middle fingers. It’s tough. And I’ve never really concentrated on it before. I just tend to dive in and hope for the best. But I’m fascinated, even more so when I listen to those in the know talk about the mechanics of it. Ok, that’s just me then.

Anyway, my video is a hopefully ‘before and after’ recording, as I’m going to spend some time, and try to get the speed, tone and precision sorted. Of course, this could take some time. Wish me luck.


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