Fingernails are an essential tool for performing on a nylon strings guitar. All through the history of Spanish guitar the fingernails as tools were an inevitable part of the gear, so to say, although rarely mentioned by early classical guitarists. (from early flamenco guitarists there are no records at all). First because of being ashamed of having long fingernails like women; and second, they just didn’t want to be compared with any Gypsy playing flamenco with long fingernails, considering themselves to be “elite” citizens. Although left out from records, the nails were simply an inevitable asset, allowing for more variety of tone colors, and more precise dynamics.
From the pieces of Fernando Sor it is absolutely obvious that he was performing as any modern guitarist, and that had fingernails on at least the thumb, index and the medium finger. At one point of his career he decided not to use the “anular” finger, or the ring finger, what we can also feel in his pieces and composing language. Almost a whole century later, Francisco Tarrega had went through various stages and tried many different lengths of his fingernails. The story that he ended up cutting them off completely – simply is not true. Especially after having composed the most elaborate tremolo piece in classical guitar history, it would be ridiculous to prevent himself from performing it forever. He has just filed his nails to “zero” (which still leaves the nail some 0,8 mm “longer” than the finger), but after having long nails for decades, that is a completely different thing. I can guarantee this because I have entered the 4th decade of having long fingernails, and when I file off my nails completely, (so there is no more white nail surface) so all the way to the flesh beneath – there is some 0,8 mm of the nail that I can not file off, because the flesh beneath it grew and went forward a lot to support it better. Lately, when my nail breaks off and I file it off totally, to the flesh – it still sticks out enough, and I can still play with it, almost like nothing happened; (so I don’t even notice it, as opposed to the nervous breakdowns I had early in my career when my nail breaks). That is what “I am filing off my fingernails completely” meant in Tarrega’s case. Like me, he was letting the nails grow up just to a maximum of 0,2 mm (the white bit, so literally nothing), and than had more than enough material to play brilliantly. In the rhythmical and the melodic elements in his pieces is also obvious that he had long nails. The composer’s language is so elaborated, demanding such variety of tone colors, that that level of expression can only be obtained with precisely formed fingernails.
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 east during the Moz-Arabs ruled in the 12th century, these gypsy “guests” that remained after the 15th century Christian conquistadors in 1492. (Castilla and Toledo alliance expelled (almost) all Jews, Arabs, and Gypsies), were still traveling nomads that were now spreading their spirit of freedom over just the Iberian peninsula. Their nomadic freedom ideology under years of repression created the very essence of the Flamenco culture.
Entre Dos Aguas or rumba 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 more crude. 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, 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).
Flamenco Guitar Lessons reveal secrets, tips and tricks for mastering flamenco guitar, through a set of very comprehensive video tutorials on: Harmony, Techniques and Styles (Palos). 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 we explore the most important from both worlds. A special software called the Loop Player, will enable you to effectively learn flamenco rhythm (compás) by playing along the highest quality flamenco percussion samples…:
The Flamenco Percussion Samples Database will help you get the clearest picture about the compás, but you an also play along and practice with the highest quality “organic” samples of cajon, palmas, shaker, djembe, congas, bongos, maracas, and all the most used percussion instruments in flamenco. The library is designed for understanding the compás, but also that you can practice over the rhythm, directly feeling it, and immediately playing flamenco. Every beat is marked with a yellow vertical line, and a group of beats to consider while counting is highlighted with green, so you can easily see what is where, and develop a feeling for the rhythm.
All the videos are in Full HD resolution with option to choose the language, between English and Spanish audio.
Considering the fact that many guitarists have a lack of understanding of the importance of nails, there is a full chapter of video tutorials that will teach you how to properly form and maintain your nails, in order to achieve the rich flamenco tone and properly play the true Spanish guitar finger technique.
Thousands of satisfied customers..!
A live online video lesson is done via any video conference software (Skype, WhatsUp, Hangouts, Viber…) and any webcam you might have will do, since there is no need to see you in high definition. With two video cameras and a high quality pre-amplifier with paired HQ condenser microphones, I can send you the highest quality audio & video, so you can record the whole lesson. We can do it before you start practicing, but having in mind that your perception will get better after you start entering the matter, it would be best to do it in approximately 2 weeks after you subscribe. Of course, please talk to me for personalized instructions on how to start…
Now is the perfect time!
New Delhi, India
Needing clear and healthy comparison between Indian Sitar, and Spanish Guitar, this course is exactly what i wanted. The nails tutorials are a true wonder! But the personalized approach from Nicolas is the best thing ever. There are fantastic video links, and extremely helpful information on the Nicolas BLOG pages, thank you!
Nicolas has an unique experience and unique approach as a teacher of flamenco guitar. The lessons are very deep and profound and almost idealistic, and although i am a professional player, Nicolas’s style and unique approach tingles me in a deep sense. Here you will find everything essential for flamenco.
Although I enjoy playing a completely different style, I’ve stumbled upon this school on YouTube and was quickly entangled in it by it’s great approach and attractive style. I use Spanish techniques now in my Bluegrass and Country guitar playing and it’s a wonder to everyone!
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am taking private online lessons with Nicolas, so I am perhaps to subjective. However, I learned harmony, in like a few days, and we often laugh on a subject, I got the best teacher on the planet! Honestly, not just because of his educational background, but because of his high spirit, and especially the site; armed with such quality videos, and the Loop Player software, Nicolas is probably the best teacher you can find online.
In Bahrain we love flamenco a lot, it is harmonically very similar to our national music. The flamenco samples loop player is fantastic for playing in the compas, I love it! Maestro Nicolas is the best!