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Flamenco Progressions


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Flamenco Progressions

Flamenco is a song, music and dance style which is strongly influenced by the Gitanos, but which has its deeper roots in Moorish and Jewish musical traditions.

Flamenco culture originated in Andalusia (Spain), but has since become one of the icons of Spanish music and even Spanish culture in general.

According to Blas Infante in his book "Orígenes de lo flamenco y secreto del cante jondo", etymologically, the word Flamenco comes from Hispano-Arabic fellah mengu, "Peasant without Land". This hypothesis has no basis in historical documents, but Infante connects it to the huge amount of Ethnic Andalusians who decided to stay and mix with the Gypsy newcomers instead of abandoning their lands because of their religious beliefs (Moriscos). After the Castilian conquest of Andalusia, the Reconquista, most of the land was expropiated and given to warlords and mercenaries who had helped the Castilian kings enterprise against Al-Andalus. When the Castilians later ordered the expulsion or forceful conversion of the Andalusian Moriscos, many of them took refuge among the Gypsies, becoming fellahmengu in order to avoid death, persecution, or forced deportation. Posing as Gypsies they managed to return to their cultural practices and ceremonies including the singing.

Other hypotheses concerning the term's etymology include connections with Flanders, the flameante (arduous) execution by the performers, or the flamingos.

Originally, flamenco consisted of unaccompanied singing (cante). Later the songs were accompanied by flamenco guitar (toque), rhythmic hand clapping ( palmas), rhythmic feet stomping (zapateado) and dance (baile). The toque and baile are also often found without the cante, although the song remains at the heart of the flamenco tradition. More recently other instruments like the cajón (a wooden box used as a percussion instrument) and castanets (castañuelas) have been introduced.

"Nuevo Flamenco", or New Flamenco, is a recent variant of Flamenco which has been influenced by modern musical genres, like rumba, salsa, pop, rock and jazz. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

"The "i-bVII-bVI-V" [Flamenco] Money Chords Progression was borrowed from Spanish Flamenco music. "The “C#m-B-A-G#” [Flamenco] Money Chords Progression, which is based on a great Descending Bass Line, was so named [by studio musicians] because these sequence of chords were used to produce so many huge hit songs during the 1960s. The Venture’s 1960 Walk Don’t Run, Del Shannon’s 1961 Runaway, Ray Charles’ 1961 Hit The Road Jack, The Beach Boy’s 1966 Good Vibrations, The Turtles’ 1967 Happy Together, Zager & Evans’ 1969 In The Year 2525, and Dire Straits’ 1979 Sultans Of Swing among others are examples of songs written primarily around these Money Chords." (Excerpt from Money Chords - A Songwriter's Sourcebook of Popular Chord Progressions © 2000 by Richard J. Scott) Two great examples of flamenco progressions are shown below in the key of Am.

Walk, Don't Run (Ventures - 1960) main verse progression

Am / G / F / E /

Feels Like The First Time (Foreigner - 1977) main bridge progression

Am / / / G / / / F / / / E / / /

Click below for the best in free Flamenco Progression lessons available on the web.

Andalusian Cadence (Wikipedia)
Dorian, but not Grey (Olav Torvund)
Flamenco Chord Progressions (WholeNote)
Walk, Don't Run to Spain (Olav Torvund)
"Half Spanish" - "Watchtower Progression (Olav Torvund)

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