Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Flamenco And Classical Guitar

Is Spanish guitar hard to learn?

– No, not at all..! Both Flamenco And Classical Guitar are the most natural way to approach playing a string instrument. But first, we must mention a few important things. Nothing in life is easy. And of course, the famous phrase “it depends on the effort you put into it”. It is just inevitably true, and it just can’t be otherwise. To a beginner, it might seem that most of the tricks on the Spanish guitar are hidden in the movements of the right hand. But although the left hand maybe seems quite simple in the beginning, when we get a bit deeper into the subject – we will see that it plays far more than just basic chords. Neither the Flamenco and Classical guitar are hard to learn, but let’s first draw a clear line between them.


What is the difference between Flamenco and Classical guitar?

The difference between flamenco and classical guitar as an instrument is absolutely minuscule. It is just in the depth and the volume of the guitar body. Also, the type of wood of the backboard and the sides on the classical guitars is usually harder and denser than on flamenco guitars. But the front board is often made of the same type of wood on both instruments. They have the same number of strings, the same number of frets, and are originally tuned exactly the same. Naturally, the flamenco guitar will normally have a transparent pickguard or the “golpeador” to protect the front board. On both guitar types, Flamenco and Classical and all their differences, very thorough information can be found here: GUITAR BLOG – Spanish Guitar Construction. So, we can say that:

Classical and flamenco guitar as instruments are almost identical.Classical And Flamenco Guitar

Classical and flamenco guitar techniques are slightly different.

Classical and flamenco guitar philosophy is totally the opposite.

Flamenco’s philosophy is all about freedom and “underdogs repression” and it involves the creation of the cultural heritage in real-time, at the exact moment the art is performed. That’s why it contains that live contemporary element. The classical guitar, on the other hand, intends to preserve and cherish the values of the ancient cultural heritage. Sometimes the classical guitar art is presented in a completely new light, accenting the same values, but from a completely different perspective. While sometimes the repetitive artist is trying to stay faithful to the letter to that specific musical period and performs the piece exactly as it was created in the past centuries. So, it is sometimes performed in a completely modern perspective while sometimes it is staying fateful to the ornaments and style of the ancient times…


Is it hard to learn Flamenco guitar?

No! Absolutely not…! The main flamenco guitar techniques, rarely used in classical music are just Rasgueo and Alzapua. They are perhaps “not so easy to master”, but once you understand the basic principle – everything becomes a piece of cake. Other playing techniques that are identical on both flamenco and classical guitar are Picado, Arpeggio, and Tremolo (there is just one different variety of exclusively flamenco tremolo, with 5 instead of 4 strokes).

To master the flamenco guitar, the most important is first to understand the flamenco rhythm. It’s because the flamenco playing techniques can only be expressed in all their glory as accents of the flamenco rhythm – compás. The flamenco compás can be best understood through the Single Track Flamenco Loop Player. It is showing us the accents that we must take into consideration when counting the beats of the compás. The sample loops are taken from various famous songs or are coming from a database of well-known flamenco audio samples used for production in the last 30 years. The samples are on Cajon, Palmas (Handclaps), Djembe, Shaker, or various other Latin percussion instruments.

The most important learning tools are the dedicated multi-track software players. First, the binary Flamenco Multi-Track Loop Player, designed for Rumba and Tangos. It contains multi-track loop sets of instruments most often used in flamenco production in the last 3 decades. The best representing the compas are the samples of “Palmas” or hand-claps. And then perhaps the most important application developed on the website, the essential 12/8 measure multi-track mixing platform. It is the ternary Flamenco Multi-Track Loop Player for Bulerias and Alegrias, which has grid lines on very specific wave hitpoints. Different color-marked beats are pointing to the difference between the accented and non-accented beats. So we can at the same time both hear and see all the essential elements in flamenco rhythm played on all possible flamenco instruments…

These software/tools-sample players are designed to help you understand compas like nothing else out there. But to learn flamenco, you must also listen to flamenco music. Just listening to Gypsy Kings or any other “rumberos” won’t take us much further from the Rumba playing style.

In Flamenco, our inner feeling for the rhythm is absolutely essential element to express our emotions. But again – if you didn’t recently hear an artist’s expressing himself, through Bulerias, Alegrias, Tangos… – how will you express yourself? So, continuous listening to flamenco music is really essential, and in order to achieve the same level of art as famous flamenco artists, we should all move to Andalucia, Spain, and start living nomadic lives like the Gypsies?!? Because that is not an option – we have a whole set of software/tools created to get us to immerse ourselves into the world of flamenco, with live recorded samples. With them, we can play along and practice like we have our own personal flamenco band.


Is it hard to learn Classical Guitar?

The Classical guitar is definitely not hard to learn. Every persistent human being can do it..! Or if you think you are even “without any talent” (which does not exist) – all you need is to be patient. Just practice, stay consistent, and in six months you will automatically be able to perform several classical guitar pieces. Trust me, I graduated with the classical guitar at the Conservatorio De Musica De Liceo De Barcelona, one of the most prestigious conservatories in Europe. To be honest, in the artistic sense – it didn’t mean much. Of course that there is an element called “reproductive art” because it is an art. But it is an art based on a simple trade, in fact. Anyhow, classical guitar performance is something that a vast majority of people can achieve to do.

But to really be good at performing classical guitar – you must first know the history of music. Then know all the characteristics of a certain period in history for that particular musical piece. Also, in order to really play that musical piece properly, you must obtain all possible knowledge of the ornaments from that particular period. Understanding harmony and how it was used during that era – would also be very useful. And with the more knowledge you possess about that exact time in history, you will have a higher awareness of the musical style elements used in that exact period. Understanding who was the music written for and the social relations in high-class society – is also very important for your performance. It is because we are simulating a whole period in history, with its distinguished aesthetics, laws, rules, and all possible musical style characteristics…

Having the natural talent to play classical guitar is useful, but having persistence is much more important for success. It is because we are playing one and the same song in the same way – over and over again. Also, it is perhaps a bit strange, “you do not need to know or understand harmony”. For example, Andrés Segovia was an absolutely amazing virtuoso classical guitar performer. But he had very obscure knowledge of the baroque harmony and “counterpoint”..! Nevertheless, he dared to add bass notes and literally “re-harmonize” the J.S.Bach – Chaconne in D minor..?!? His transcription for the guitar from the violin score was done so bad, that it often sounds like he doesn’t even differentiate the tonic from the dominant. Don’t get me wrong, his performance is still absolutely amazing, one of the best in the whole 20th century..! Also, in classical guitar, after you have read and learned the music piece from the score by memory, you don’t need to look back at the score anymore. That fact rapidly turns your performance into a kind of automatic, repetitive yoga-like workouts, that sometimes even look like some karate katas. In many ways, it is a very physical thing, and the emotions are in the second plan, because of the streaming to the physical perfection…

But we must not forget that classical guitar envelopes various flamenco guitar techniques in some of the most beautiful ways. Very often flamenco technique becomes incorporated into the classical guitar legacy through some amazing composer’s work. Composers then sometimes achieve the impossible and make such masterpieces, that they become the world’s national heritage because of their beauty, symmetry, and perfection…

Learning flamenco definitely depends directly on the time you put into it. First, let’s set one thing absolutely clear: the more you listen to flamenco music – the faster you will learn to play flamenco. Why? Let’s take just the Rasgueo technique into consideration for the moment. To play all 5 possible variants of Rasgueo, (Rasqueado) – you must understand how to apply them in the different flamenco rhythmical forms. So, binary 4/4 rhythms, like Rumba, or Tangos, are easily learned and understood. But the true essence of flamenco is in ternary rhythms, in 3/4 or 6/8, like Bulerias, Alegrias, etc… They have 12 beats per measure, with accents on “not so logical” beats, and in flamenco groove, everything revolves around these rhythmical patterns. That’s why for playing flamenco YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST UNDERSTAND AND MASTER THE FLAMENCO COMPAS..! That’s why the flamenco samples database for all the software on the website contains live recordings of all possible flamenco samples and percussion: Cajon, Djembe, HandClaps, (Palmas) Shakers, Guitar, Bass, etc…


How do you play arpeggio?

Arpeggio is a technique that involves chords, whose notes are usually spread all over the different guitar strings, and sometimes as well all over the fretboard. Arpeggio doesn’t have to be performed on any exact instrument, in particular. Even melodic instruments like trumpets or flutes can perform an arpeggiated music text. But since the arpeggiated music text-primarily leans on the tonal thirds of the chord consonants, it is a composing technique more naturally performed and much easier written for the harmonic instruments. Piano, Harpsichord, Harp, Guitar, Acordeon, Church Organ, Vibraphone, Marimba, or any other harmonic instrument that allows us to superimpose notes on it, will always be better and more powerful than any melodic instrument at this seemingly simple task.

The first composer in music history that became famous with arpegio techniques and pieces composed to exploit that technique was romanticist composer, violist, violinist, and also guitarist Nicolo Paganini. He was composing for both violin, viola, and guitar…

On the violin, it is performed with a bowl, while on the guitar it is done with a combination of right and left-hand moves, to fill in all the possible 16ths or 32nds with the chord degree notes, in between the heavy beats…

Nicolo Paganini was the only violinist that as he gets better and better, manages to retain the timbre of each individual note played, so even his melodic instrument – sounded like a harmonic instrument. Those were the first times in history that a melodic instrument performed such arpegio works, and sounded like a modern 20th-century sampler…

What is the difference between a scale and an arpeggio?

A scale is a sequence of notes, going from a lower to a higher note, or vice versa. When we are taking “the whole scale” into consideration, it is usually in the range of one whole octave, so 7 notes, and then the repeated 8th note. We start and finish with the same note so that we could have a bigger picture of the scale we are playing and what does it represent. A scale contains all the notes of some key/tonality and all its scale degrees. It is the group of notes that envelops a certain tonality and is usually played from the 1st to the 7th note of the scale, and to round it up, it is also including the 8th note, (which is the 1st-degree note again, just one octave higher). The scale serves so it gives us the overall sound of that particular key or the tonality the scale is in.

Arpeggio is a technique/musical element, that envelops notes of some particular chord. It can start with any note of the chord, the 3rd, the 5th, even the 7th, but it is most often the tonic, with ending on tonic as well. That way it would be the clearest possible phrase defining some consonance, of some scale degree. So, the arpeggio is a consonance we can create on any scale degree, and use just the notes of that chord. But any arpeggio can be made of several chords of some tonality, or perhaps even different tonalities because it is a musical element and a technique, that unlike the scale that has just all the notes of some tonality/key placed one after another – has the notes most often spread in thirds.