Ravenna Flamenco

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Tangos Falseta (2)

difficulty ★★★★☆

This tangos falseta is most commonly associated with Paco de Lucia’s Los Pinares (Fuente y Caudal), though it comes up from time to time in his accompaniment playing as well. Since the first phrase of this falseta (bars 5-8) is on the G minor chord, it is perfect for breaking up the Dm/C/Bb/A progression so typical of tangos accompaniment.

This falseta is thumb intensive. In fact, you’ll really only use your fingers to round out the chords. For the most part there’s nothing too technical about the right hand playing, but at bar 19 you’ll run into a 16th note alzapua run that can be tricky to pull off at speed.

As you approach the alzapua, remember that efficiency is critical to passages like this. Be sure not to swing too wide or to try to hit too many strings with your thumb. I find it helpful to keep a little bit of flexion (a slight bend) in the last joint of my thumb, though much of how you will play alzapua depends on the shape of your thumb and thumb nail. Also keep in mind that the notes on the A string are the accent notes; the D and G string notes still need to be crisp, but they shouldn’t carry as much emphasis as what you play on the A string.

Practically speaking, you can still use this falseta even if you don’t yet have the technique to nail the alzapua. Notice that the four bar alzapua phrase (bars 19-22) is a melodic variation on the previous four bar phrase (bars 15-18). If you need to, you can cut out the alzapua (it won’t change the falseta melodically), or repeat the simpler phrase in place of the alzapua (in which case you might want to alter the emphasis or phrasing of one or the other so you’re not repeating exactly the same thing twice).

You might think of these kinds of substitutions as a practice strategy for more difficult falsetas and pieces. In this case, by shifting phrases around you will be able play a simplified version of the falseta all the way through. This makes for more "musical" practice (i.e. not all drills and technique). When you get your alzapua technique down, it will be easy to add back in.

tags: falseta, paco de lucia, pulgar, alzapua
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