Flamenco Glossary

A collection of terms used in connection with flamenco.

A

afillá: a type of hoarse, earthy flamenco voice
alante: stage front
Alegrias: a joyful dance, in comopas of 12 beats, from Cadiz. The origin is in the jotas of Cadiz. Traditional folk music of Aragon, brought to the Andalucian region by soliders during the War of Independence in the early 19th century. The main characteristics of this style are the richness of it’s guitar accompaniment, the intricacy of the dancing, the demands of the rhythm, and it’s lively sound.
Andalucia: Region from southern Spain; birthplace of Flamenco.
arpegio: a chord whose notes are played in succession, not simultaneously
atrás: stage rear

B

baile: the dance
bailaor{a}: dancer (male & female)
bout: body of the guitar
braceo: movement of the arms during the dance
Bulerias: High-spirited song & dance from Jerez. This developed like Soleares from a simple style. However, unlike Soleares, it has a fast and lively rhythm – indeed, the fastest in all  flamenco and provides enormous scope for improvisation on the part of dancers, singers and guitarists. It is wild, frenzied and lively, but nevertheless contains the germ of sorrow that is almost always present in flamenco.

C

cabales: flamenco experts
café cantante: coffee house with flamenco shows (originally starting with flamenco cante but eventually covering all flamenco forms)
cajon: percussive instrument similar to an empty wooden box
calo: language of the gypsies
Caña: Caña, also very closely related to Soleares, is one of the oldest forms of flamenco, and one of the most pure and beautiful.
cantaor{a}: singer (male & female)
cante: song
cante chico: light song, more frivolous
cante jondo: deep song covering both the dark and serious aspect of Flamenco
cante grande: more profound song
carcelera: type of tonás sung by incarcerated gypsies
Caracoles: This is one type of cantiñ which appeared in Cadiz in the mid-19th century. It became strongly associated with Madrid, although it is essentially from  Andalucia, like all flamenco music. Curro Cuchares and El Tato’ who worked in the bull-rings and were also good singers took this style to Madrid where it became very popular. Later it was recreated in a masterly way by Antonio Chacon, who gave it its present brilliance and vitality.
cejilla: capo on a guitar
colombianas: flamenco style influenced by S.American rhythms
compás: beat, rhythm, measure, the characteristic rhythm of a form
copla: verse
cuadro: group of flamenco performers, including dancers singers, and guitarists

D

danza mora: a style influenced by the Moors of N.Africa  (stands for Moorish Dance); guitar 6th string tuned to D
debla: toná with religious overtones
desplante: section of a dance, as in “desplante por bulerias”, performed afterthe “llamada”. May range from several steps to several compass depending on the choreography
duende: the soul force that inspires flamenco art

E

entrada: entrance of the dancer
estribillo: a flamenco phrase

F

falda: skirt
falseta: a melodic variation played by guitarist
falsete: high pitched voice
fandango: a dance from Huelva; cante chico
farruca: a spectacular male dance, one of the more recent forms of flamenco. Its origin is perhaps in some chants from the North of Spain. It is never sung when played in the pure flamenco idiom. As a dance or as a guitar solo, it is a very dramatic piece.
flamenco: music/dance from Andalucia in Southern Spain. Roots in Indian, Arabic, Spanish cultures.
floreo: movement of the hands

G

gitano: gypsy
guajiras: a style influenced  by Cuban rhythms

H

hondo: deep, profound

J

juerga: flamenco party or jam session
jaleo: utterances of approval, encouragement. Recognition of the duende
jondo: variation of hondo most often associated with flamenco dance

L

letra: verse of a song
llamada: “call” or “break”, dance movement signalling a change of section

M

malagueñas: a free form flamenco style (no specific compas, interpretive, and not danced) from Malaga. Descendent of the Fandango family.
manton: embroidered silk shawl with long fringes
marcando: movements of the dancer during the letra
martinete: toná sung by the gypsies in a forge; refers to hammer

P

palillos: castanets, not used in pure flamenco
palmas: rhythmic hand clapping used to accompany flamenco song and dance
palmeros: men that clap while the musicians play
petenera: Cante that is out of the mainstream, derived from Andalucian folklore. The folklore behind this is that the word is a corruption of “Patenera” who sang the cante and came from Paterna de la Rivera. It is considered by the superstitious to be bad luck to play.
picados: flamenco scales on the guitar
pitos: finger snapping used to accompany flamenco song and dance
planta: sole of the foot
polo: flamenco song derived from the Soleares family
punta: toe of the foot
punteado: plucking technique

Q

quejío: lament

R

rasgueado: guitar strumming technique
redonda: flamenco voice
rondenas: another free-form style; it uses an alternative tuning for both 3rd and 6th strings
rumbas: another flamenco style influenced by New World rhythms; strumming characterized by damping the strings with the whole hand for syncopation

S

salida: exit of the dancer
serranas: same compas as siguiriyas, but played in E instead of A so has a different mood and texture, though some of the same variations can be transposed
siquiriyas/seguidillas: profound cante jondo
soleá/soleares: cante jondo called the mother of flamenco song. Consists of 12 beats with accents on the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th.

T

tablao: club with stage for flamenco shows
tacaor/tocaor: flamenco guitarist
tacon: heel of the foot
taconeo: footwork
tango: baile chico, flamenco song & dance
tanguillo: flamenco song and dance dervied from the tango
tarantas: another free-form style; tarantos danced so it has a compas, and is related to the tarantos in key, etc.
tientos: cante jondo, derived from tango
tocaor/tacaor: flamenco guitarist
tonás: basic flamenco song. The earliest known.
toque: guitar playing
toque compás: guitar playing with fixed patterns of rhythmic beats
toque libre: guitar playing with free form rhythm
tremolo: a rapid fluttering of a guitar tone or alternating tones

Z

zapateados: needs very fancy footwork; the compas speeds up, slows down,  and speeds up again and is a showcase for dancers (zapato means shoes). Derived from the tango.

Phrases

Agua: Water! It’s so hot I need water!
Asi se baila: That’s dancing!
Asi se toca: That’s playing!
Asi se canta: That’s singing!
Eso es: That’s it!
Hassa: Great!
jaleo: Ale, ole. Possibly from the 12th century call “hala” Possibly from the Arabic: Allah!
Olé!
Toma que toma: Take it!
Vamos alla: Go there!
Vamo’ ya!: Let’s go!