Are you frustrated with trying to hear the compás? Do you want to hear it and try to practice along while you play guitar? Flamenco Explained Compás Loops are here! We have loops in 12’s (Soleá, Soleá por Bulería, Alegrías and Bulería), 4/4, and Seguirillas. There are several tempos and we have versions that include metronome clicks and versions that don’t, now available for you to play around and listen to (at ten minutes each, looping, in length). Go and check out the compás loops.
Can you hear the compás?
About 20 years ago a series of CDs appeared called ‘Solo Compás’. These were pretty amazing for anyone learning or practicing flamenco (remember that this is in the deep dark pre-internet days, when resources were few and far between). There were different CDs for each palo, and each CD had an entire dance and the various sections, all performed by fantastic dancers and musicians. But for most of us, the best part were the compás loops (the ‘Solo Compás’ part). They had beautifully produced recordings of palmas, cajon and occasionally other percussion instruments playing compás at a couple of tempos.
These were perfect for practicing guitar or choreographing or practicing a dance.
You can find most of the Solo Compás tracks on YouTube and Spotify these days and they’re still great. I know from experience that dance teachers still use the recordings to choreograph and teach. The one problem with the Solo Compás tracks is that if you don’t already know what to listen for in the compás you can easily get lost in there.
One night recently I had two of my private students separately ask me how to go about hearing the compás in the loops they had downloaded. We spent quite a bit of time listening and looking for cues that could help them ‘find their way’, and while we made some progress both students were still a little frustrated at their inability to hear the compás in the loops.
So I had an idea.
What if, rather than try to produce great sounding loops that were interesting and varied and beautiful, I tried to produce loops that just made it easier to actually hear the compás? The result are compás loops that are by no means the most interesting around, but hopefully will help you to learn to hear the compás in the various palmas and cajón patterns that are most common in flamenco.
Flamenco Explained Compás Loops are born.
With the help of percussionist Kassandra Kocoshis we recorded simple loops of various palos at various tempos on cajón. After recording these, I also added palmas. Then finally I added the bit that I hope will help – a click.
Every loop we made has at least two versions, one with a click and one without. In the 4/4 loops (good for Tangos, Rumba, Colombiana, and even for Farruca and Taranto) there is a click on every beat with an accent on the 1 of each measure. This is helpful because the Tango palmas and cajón patterns don’t emphasize the downbeat (beat 1). So if you can hear the accented click you’ll start to hear the Tangos pattern in a way that should make sense.
For the 12-beat compáses (Soleá, Soleá por Bulería, Alegrías and Bulería) we have three versions: no click, click with accent on 6 and 8 and click with accent on 7 and 8. The idea here is to give you different options for hearing the compás but additionally, and most importantly, give you two main ways of accenting the 12-beat compás to get used to.
To click or not to click – You decide.
Because the loops are identical except for the click, you can get used to hearing the compás with the click and then as you get more accustomed to it, you can try out the loops without the click to see how you’ve progressed. You can always go back and forth as you try new tempos, or if you just need a little more clarity with a given falseta.
As you listen to clicks you’ll want to listen either for the 12, 3, 6, 8, 10 or the 12, 3, 7, 8, 10. All of the 12-beat loops start on beat 12, which should give you another way to start hearing the compás if its been a challenge.
The Seguirilla loops come without click and with clicks that are accented on the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. (If this kind of counting is confusing check out the Seguirilla Survival Guide video).
We would love your feedback!
We’re hoping these loops will be helpful, and we’d love to hear from you about how they (or don’t) help you better hear the compás, so please let us know!