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This traditional phrygian mode sevillana creates dark undertones in a typically upbeat palo by keeping the melody on the deeper, more dramatic bass strings. To fill out the tercio chord movement, the harmony is played on the trebel strings. This requires some thinking ahead about finger position and change preparation.

Identifying Challenging Fingerings

Effectively playing the inverted harmony of this piece requires rethinking—or at least thinking through left hand fretting choices. The transition from bar 17 to bar 18 (the 7th and 8th bars of the tercio) requires a jump from fretting with the pinky finger on the fifth (A) string, fourth fret (C#) to fretting with the ring finger on the second (B) string, third fret (D).

I found that it was hard to make this jump without a gap in the melody and that, playing it “straight,” my ring finger’s placement on the 2nd string usually wasn’t all that great. I like to try to keep my fingers curved on the fretboard whenever possible—it’s more comfortable, feels better, and is a stronger left hand position to be in—and trying to go directly between these two notes usually put my ring finger in a “bent back” position.

Planning Ahead

The solution I came up with for this shift is to put my ring finger down on the second string during the D (open string) that’s played on the second beat of bar 17, one note before the C#. This way I can play the C#, an easy reach for the pinky, and then the high D is already fretted: I just have to hit the string.

Fretting a note two beats before you have to play it can be a little counterintuitive (particularly when it’s not otherwise part of a standard chord form), but in this case it makes for a smoother transition and an easier and more confident rendering of the melody.

For a detailed analysis of the sevillana form, be sure to check out the Sevillana Accompaniment article here on Ravenna Flamenco.