Last year in February, I was on my way to a Suzuki Guitar Workshop in Florida when I heard the following news: ‘guitarist Paco de Lucia passed away suddenly from an apparent heart attack while vacationing with his family at the beach in Mexico. He was 66.’ I felt a sense of loss for us as a guitar community. He was such a passionate and fiery player. Through his refinements and fusion of flamenco and jazz harmonies as well as his collaborations with artists including Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Al DiMeola, he helped make the nylon-string guitar more recognizable to a wider audience.
I thought about all of the young guitarists I would be working with over the weekend and wished for a way to share something with them that would remind them of Paco and his contributions to our instrument.
‘Flaming Flamenco’ is an original song created as an introduction to improvisation and to rasgueado technique in a fun format for guitar students. On that weekend in Florida, I saw it as a bridge to offer to the students – a bridge to introduce them to a style solidified and popularized by a guitarist they would never have the chance to meet.
We guitarists have *hundreds* of etudes and pieces in the key of Aminor since it utilizes the open bass strings as primary chord roots. In Flaming Flamenco, students learn the Amin scale as well as two easy and very singable melodies. The accompaniment consists of two repeated chords – Ami and E. Employing a basic rhythm with rasgueados supplies an exercise that builds coordination as well as strength. In a group format, students can pair off and exchange playing the rasgueado accompaniment and the scale with the melodic patterns.
It’s pretty much instant gratification!
For the performance in Florida, there were parts for every student, the parents and even the audience, too. The beginners were given a rhythmic pattern of hand-claps (or palmas).
There was ‘percussion’ using the hands to play on the body of the guitar itself.
We closed our portion of the concert with the Paco Tribute. The crowd response was warm and enthusiastic. That brought the weekend to a satisfying close for me.
Since that time, ‘Flaming Flamenco’ has been shared and performed in many more cities around the US and beyond. [‘FLAMING FLAMENCO’ C2008, AndreaCannonMusic, all rights reserved]
Here are some notes I’ve received from colleagues:
“I’m having the studio do a recital in February, and one of the group pieces is your “Flaming Flamenco.” Those kids love it! That’s all they want to play! I have to ask them to stop when we are in our private lessons. It’s really funny.”
“The tribute to Paco was a hit with my students! It’s great because it’s
all-inclusive. There are parts easy enough for 1st position level students to play while beginners love doing the palmas throughout the song. The excitement of playing up the neck in IV & V position is an added bonus. The improv section is also very enjoyable for students to break away and do some creating of their own! For months after we used it in our Winter Recital. I still hear kids playing it while noodling around before and after group lessons!”
Brannon Lyons; Lyons Guitar And String Lesson Studio (Mt. Lebanon, PA)
“Flaming Flamenco is a great piece. I used it both in Pennsylvania and in Florida with my students. I like the fact that there is something for everyone to play, from absolute beginners playing the palmas to an easy melody first position students to learn, and an opportunity for improvisation, which can be simple or advanced, depending on the student’s level. Plus it is a crowd pleaser that the parents like.”
Joette Giorgis; Joette’s Strings Music Studio (Port Saint Lucie, Florida)
Here are some links to information about Paco:
Paco de Lucia – BBC Video News (very short report)
Paco Playing Guitar (short sample)
With my students, we focused on a short segment of this video that showed the right hand close-up. We talked about the placement of the his fingers and helped clarify ways to improve our own sound
Here is Paco de Lucia’s website:
FLAMING FLAMENCO – RECORDING AND PDF:
SOUNDCLOUD RECORDING OF A STUDENT PERFORMANCE:
PDF OF THE SHEET MUSIC:
Flaming Flamenco (in memory of Paco de Lucia) [‘FLAMING FLAMENCO’ C2008, AndreaCannonMusic, all rights reserved]
I hope you will enjoy performing this spirited tune in tribute to a legend of the guitar and most of all, grow with your students in the love of playing music on the guitar and sharing with others!