IS A CHORD PROGRESSION A FALSETA?
I’d say that the short answer is that yeah, It can be. Falsetas are surprisingly slippery to define. But if you think of them as little guitar solos that break the pattern of the compás and take you on a musical journey, then any chord progression longer than two compases or so could fit that description. And in fact it’s not uncommon in accompaniment, for dance or Cante, to hear a chord progression anywhere you’d be expecting a falseta.
WHEN TO USE THEM
As I mentioned, you can really use a chord progression falseta anywhere you might use a “normal” falseta. In a solo piece, it could be nice to change things up for a minute by throwing one in as a sort of bridge between two normal falsetas. A sort of breather between two busier musical ideas.
And for accompaniment there’s no shame at all in using a chord progression falseta anywhere you’d use a normal one. And they come in particularly handy if the tempo gets a little out of hand, or if you need something loud all of a sudden. They’re also really handy for dance if you want to play a falseta but you also want to mimic the rhythm the dancer is dancing. Or maybe you want to hit some kicks in there that wouldn’t make sense in a normal falseta.
BUT WHERE ARE THE TABS?
For the reasons I’m about to get into, I decided that providing notation/TABs for these falsetas was not helpful. One of the cool things about these chord progression falsetas is how easy and fun it is to make them your own. You can play with which rasgueados to use, or whether and how to syncopate the rhythms. In a minute we’ll look at more ways to make them your own.
If I provided TABs it would be like saying “this is how to play this,” which isn’t my intention. These chord progressions are like little roadmaps, and my aim is to give you a kind of canvas for creativity. You’ll have to think a little differently to learn these, but I believe it will be well worth it. Plus, it will both strengthen your compás and fuel your self-expression.
HOW TO USE THEM
They really are great as jumping-off points for creativity. There are millions of ways to play little melodies that connect one chord to another. So once you’re familiar with a chord progression falseta you can play around with that. Just come up with little picado or thumb or alzapua bits with melodies that lead the ear from one chord to the next. And you don’t have to connect every pair of chords with a melody. Start with one or two places that feel natural to you. That might be all you need.
You can also ask yourself if you know other voicing of the chords you’re using. (If you’re not clear on what a voicing is or how to play with this idea then read this blog post and check out our Chords and Voicings in Flamenco video. Then go to our TABs page and search for our Flamenco Chords and Voicings PDF). You’ll be amazed how different a new voicing might sound. And the different arrangement of notes will suggest new ways of resolving from one chord to the next with those little melodies. You can change just a chord or two, or you can replace everything if you find good voicings that work.
If you know a thing or two about music theory you can also think about substitutions. You could throw in some substitute dominants, upper structure triads or any other kinds of substitutions you’re familiar with. Your ear will tell you what works. You can also just alter chords and see what sounds good to you. Just because you’re expecting to resolve to a major sound doesn’t mean a minor won’t sound great sometimes. And sometimes (ok – lots of times) it’ll just sound weird. But you won’t know until you try, and you’ll learn some cool stuff as you explore.
TURN IT INTO A “PROPER” FALSETA
If you listen to any normal fasleta, you’ll hear that chord changes are implied. That just means that you can hear what chords want to accompany the melody. This can work in reverse, too. If you take a chord progression and replace the chords with notes that sound like those chords, you’re starting with a good reliable structure (that chord progression) and filling it in to be something else entirely. It’s actually a great way to start writing your own material if you’re not doing that already. Rather than trying to pull melodies from thin air, your ear will tell you what notes sound like the chords you’d be playing. For any place you don’t have notes, you can fall back on the chords themselves.
KEEP THEM IN YOUR BACK POCKET
But more than anything, I suspect that lots of players will appreciate having some falsetas that are easy to play fast and/or loud. In fact, I’d make it a point to have a chord progression or two ready to go for each Palo you expect to play. The ones we’re publishing are tried and true progressions that will sound familiar to anyone who knows their flamenco. Plus, they have that muy flamenco quality to them that’s likely to earn you a few Olés!