Should you count/feel Bulerias in Twelves or Sixes?
I’ve seen people almost come to blows over this question – that’s how strongly some feel about it. As you’ll hear me say over and over again, though – it’s not about being right, it’s about making music!
So my short-answer take on this is very simple – you should do both. BUT, I happen to believe that feeling sixes is not going to really help you or make sense if you don’t first confidently feel your Twelves. Because that 12-beat compás which is at the heart of so much flamenco is also very much at the heart of Bulerias. And those Sixes are subsets of the Twelves you have to learn to feel in order to really play Bulerias.
At the end of the day, the vast majority of the Bulerias you play will fall into 12-beat compases. So while the “extra” Sixes are very real and extremely important for accompaniment, I find that it’s usually a distraction to think this way before establishing a solid 12-beat feel.
Having said all of this…
When your compás is solid and you begin to accompany, then you’ll be in a good position to understand what the fuss is all about and why it sometimes is so useful to feel in Sixes.
In Level 3 of our Bulerias Explained series we devoted an entire video, called The Half Compás, to this concept. There’s almost no good way to explain any of this with just words. Or rather it’s super easy to explain, but what’s explained wouldn’t help you feel it when it happens. So if (and really, only if) your Bulerias compás is quite solid and reliable, I recommend you dig into this video to hear – and hopefully feel – how, when and why we sometimes play in Sixes that don’t always add up to Twelves.
The subject comes up right away in our Bulerias Cante Play-Along videos, as Turry (our singer for the series) throws in a couple of these “extra” Sixes in his Bulerias. It can get a little hairy if you haven’t run into this before, which is why I recommend watching the Half Compás video if you’re new to this. You might also want to check out the post I wrote about how to use the Cante Play-Along videos if this is your first time doing that.
Yes, it can be confusing at first
It can be really confusing at first, but it’s a concept you’ll want to embrace if you’re going to be accompanying any Bulerias. So take it slow, and remember that at a certain point what you feel will make more sense than what you know!