Picado is one of the first principals and the most natural ways to play both flamenco and classical guitar. Mastering it is absolutely necessary to play a proper Spanish guitar finger technique. Picado is the way to play any melody, but parts of it are also incorporated into many other playing techniques. To perform it “como el Dios manda” (like the God commands), or the way it should be played, a proper set of nails is also a must.
The natural right-hand position on Spanish guitar (both flamenco and classical) maintains the wrist some 10 cm away from the front board, because of the constant interchanging of the techniques; therefore making it difficult to assess the exact positions of the strings. This is especially notable when playing fast passages and scales. If the strings have lower tension, they take too long to back to the initial position. So you have to “chase them” over the guitar, which is a crazy thing to do while playing close to 10 notes per second. But the higher tension strings have other disadvantages, especially if you are a beginner. Also, the index and the medium fingers are unequal in many ways, so that disbalance for the equal picado – must be overpowered by practicing in a certain way.
The scales in flamenco are primarily played picado apoyando, and forte too. Picado can also be performed tirando, but just when a strong apoyando tone would break up the arpeggiated tirando text, and a much quieter passage is needed. Paco De Lucia achieved incredible speeds in picado, showing us that the technique is a state of mind, not the state of your muscles, or the amount you practiced. Don’t get me wrong, Paco also spent his childhood playing 14 hours per day, but many of us have, and not many have achieved it.
From the beginning of the 19th century in Spain, with the classical guitar coming to the world music stage and being played more and more in the elite society, the Gypsies rapidly adopted this new 6 string instrument as their own. Started populating western Europe from the Punjab province in India during the Moz-Arabs ruled Iberia in the 12th century, many of the Gypsy “guests” remained after the 15th and 16th-century Christian conquests, that started in 1492. Castilla and Toledo’s alliance expelled (almost) all Jews and Arabs, but not all the Gypsies. Besides that fact, the Gypsies were the ones that were the carrier and the catalyst for all right-hand techniques because they were too poor to buy metal strings, like normal citizens. They were making the strings from animal intestines and were playing the guitar without any bone pick, using the fingers and fingernails. They were now traveling nomads again just under Christian rule, and as the second order citizens, Gypsies continued to spread the spirit of freedom over the Iberian peninsula. Their nomadic freedom ideology, under years of repression – created the very essence of the Flamenco spirit and culture we have today…!
Their guitar playing style came from their different approach to this newly emerged and perfected 6 string instrument. Instead of performing it plucking the strings by pulling and releasing them with the fingers (like classical guitarists, which would require a certain level of precision and fingernails hygiene); their approach to it was much cruder. They started using the whole body of the guitar as a percussion instrument, hitting the front board to create sound and playing the “golpe” hit. Therefore paving the way for the “golpe” protection plate to appear. But the most important is that they invented a whole new technique from scratch, hitting the strings with the top of the fingernails with circular repetitive motion; using as a pivot base both the wrist and the finger base joint with the anchored thumb. Therefore creating the base of the “Rasqueada”, as opposed to “Punteada” guitar, (today being the flamenco and the classical guitar).
For the last 200 years, both the classical and the flamenco guitar remain literally one and the same unchanged instrument. The major evolution of flamenco techniques happened in the second half of the 20th century, and the techniques are still evolving. On the other hand, the classical guitar techniques are still being strict to expand, as always, waiting for some piece to embed the technique into the classical guitar heritage. Having some amazing artists through the last 200 years enriched the world’s national heritage in giant steps, like Fernando Sor in classical guitar, and Paco De Lucia in flamenco. So today we have an enormously rich legacy for exploration. What has changed are the craftsmanship processes, and some irrelevant stuff, like the pegs mechanism or a “golpe” plate. Our problem today is the serious shortage of wood to build guitars because almost all forests with several centuries old giant trunks now are gone. But that is a whole other story…
Flamenco Guitar Lessons reveals secrets, tips, and tricks for mastering flamenco guitar, through a set of very comprehensive video tutorials on Harmony, Techniques, Styles (“Palos”) and Nails. The technically rich Iberian legacy brought every single classical guitar technique into the world of flamenco. That’s why the flamenco guitarists today are on the technical front lines, widening flamenco language and achieving the impossible. On the other hand, the strict classical guitar world, waiting for some piece to be written to embed the technique into the classical guitar heritage, is still late to adopt many fantastic flamenco techniques. Therefore Flamenco Guitar Lessons explores the most important from both worlds.
A special sample player software called Flamenco Loop Player, will enable you to effectively learn flamenco rhythm (compás) by playing along the highest quality flamenco percussion samples of: cajón (hand drum), palmas (claps), shaker, djembe, congas, bongos, maracas…and all the most used percussion instruments in flamenco. Every beat is marked with a yellow vertical line, and every group of beats to consider while counting is highlighted with green, so you can easily understand the accents seeing exactly what is where, and develop an inner feeling for the rhythm…: