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Flamenco Guitar Chords

The main chords Used in Flamenco Guitar (w/ extra video for beginner to intermediate players)

by Michael & Rafael

Rafael has taught and performed flamenco guitar for over 40 years, including many famous stars – from EOB (Radiohead) to Jack Peñate (recorded with Adele).

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The Main Chords Used in Flamenco Guitar

The good news is that flamenco guitar does not use that many chords.

The less good news is that the majority of work in flamenco guitar is done by your right hand – doing difficult techniques known as rasgueos. This makes it different to other types of guitar playing styles.

But there are certainly some chords to learn!

Below we dive into some of the most common and significant chords and progressions that breathe life into flamenco guitar.

If you're not familiar with the basic chords used in guitar, we give a quick breakdown. Otherwise skip to the video

Breakdown of basic guitar chords

Note for beginners: in guitar tablature, the large E (capital E) below represents the thickest string, which is the lowest sounding string when played open. Conversely, the small e (lowercase e) represents the thinnest string, which is the highest sounding string when played open. X means do not play the string. Typically you mute the string with the flesh of your finger. If it is easier, just do not strum it when starting out. 

An easy strumming pattern for all chords: ↓ ↑  ↓ ↑ with your index finger only (Down, Up, Down, Up). See the flamenco course for more information.

A Minor Chord

e|--------0---------|
B|--------1---------|
G|--------2---------|
D|--------2---------|
A|--------0---------|
E|------------------|

A Chord

e|--------0---------|
B|--------2---------|
G|--------2---------|
D|--------2---------|
A|--------0---------|
E|------------------|

G Chord

e|---3---
B|---3---
G|---0---
D|---0---
A|---2---
E|---3---

F Chord (Barred)

e|---1---
B|---1---
G|---2---
D|---3---
A|---3---
E|---1---

F Chord (Non Barred)

e|---0---
B|---0---
G|---2---
D|---3---
A|---3---
E|---1---

E Chord

e|---0---
B|---0---
G|---1---
D|---2---
A|---2---
E|---0---

E Minor Chord

e|---0---
B|---0---
G|---0---
D|---2---
A|---2---
E|---0---

B Chord (typically played as B7)

e|---2---
B|---0---
G|---2---
D|---1---
A|---2---
E|---X---

D Chord

e|---2---
B|---3---
G|---2---
D|---0---
A|---X---
E|---X---

Non-Barred B Flat Chord (Flamenco Style)

e|---0---
B|---3---
G|---3---
D|---3---
A|---1---
E|---X---

C Chord (Buleria / Flamenco Fingering)

e|---0---
B|---3---
G|---3---
D|---2---
A|---3---
E|---X---

Chord Progression used in the Flamenco Buleria

Applying the above chords we can look at the flamenco buleria – one of the harder styles of flamenco to master, because of its rapid pace and quick chord changes. It uses some of the harder chords seen above but they are still beginner chords.

Some common chords used in the buleria are A, B Flat (non barred), flamenco C, B Flat and back to A.

These chords are strummed quickly and with a lot of energy, which makes the music feel very dynamic and vibrant. Guitarists also use special techniques to make the guitar percussive, adding to the lively beat of the bulería. Take a look below.

Chords in the flamenco buleria

Chord Progressions and Modes

The Andalusian Cadence (A, G, F, E)

The Andalusian cadence is one of the most iconic progressions in flamenco. It’s a descending series typically played as A minor – G – F – E. The cadence can be used both as the primary progression of a song or as a passing sequence in more intricate compositions. Its haunting, descending pattern invokes a poignant and somber feel that's emblematic of many flamenco songs.

Phrygian Mode (A, E)

Unlike other genres, which often stick to the standard major and minor scales, flamenco frequently uses the Phrygian mode. This mode, also known as the Spanish gypsy scale, has an Eastern feel and is critical for that quintessential flamenco sound. A simple E chord transitioned to an F chord captures the essence of the Phrygian sound.

Por Arriba and Por Medio (E, A or A, B)

In flamenco terminology, the phrases "por arriba" and "por medio" refer to chord shapes that are common in the genre. "Por arriba" uses the E major and A minor shapes, while "por medio" uses A and B flat shapes.

Flamenco Rumba Chords (Am, G, F, E)

Flamenco Rumba, heavily influenced by Cuban music, often uses simpler major and seventh chords. The Andalusian cadence (Am - G - F - E) often finds its way into rumba compositions as well, providing a melancholic and traditional flamenco touch.The rhythm and strumming patterns are crucial here, giving the rumba its danceable and catchy feel.

Diminished and Augmented Chords (E)

Flamenco guitarists love to sprinkle diminished and augmented chords into their compositions for tension and resolution. For instance, an E7b9 or E augmented chord can be used as a bridge or transition between other major and minor chords, adding a touch of suspense or surprise.

Sus4 and Sus2 Chords (A, D)

Suspended fourth (sus4) and suspended second (sus2) chords are another staple in flamenco. These chords don’t have a third, major or minor, giving them a unique, open sound that resolves beautifully into major or minor chords. For example, transitioning from an Asus4 to an A major or from a Dsus2 to a D major can add a touch of anticipation and drama.

Flamenco Chords – Conclusion

The chords and progressions found in flamenco are as diverse and rich as the history of the Andalusian people themselves. While this blog post outlines the foundational chords used in flamenco guitar, it's essential to remember that the spirit of flamenco lies in the passion and emotion with which these chords are played. Combining these chords with rhythm, technique, and feeling is what makes flamenco music come alive. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced guitarist, delving into the world of flamenco can offer a new perspective and enrich your musical journey.

Rafael's flamenco course teaches you the basic chords you need to know without getting bogged into the details. The focus of your learning will be on picking things up by ear, and on your right hand – your left hand will sort itself out naturally – we promise! 

Flamenco Guitar Chords FAQ

What are the basic chords used in Flamenco guitar?

Flamenco guitar primarily uses chords like A minor, G major, F major, B7, E major, E minor, D major, and non-barred versions of B flat and C major (specific to Flamenco styles like Bulería).

Do Flamenco guitarists focus more on left-hand or right-hand techniques?

While learning some essential chords is crucial, the majority of Flamenco guitar work focuses on right-hand techniques, including complex strumming patterns known as rasgueos.

Is the B flat chord played differently in Flamenco music?

Yes, in Flamenco, the B flat chord is often played in a non-barred form, focusing more on higher string pitches to enhance melody and maintain clarity in fast passages.

What is the most iconic chord progression in Flamenco music?

The Andalusian cadence (A minor, G, F, E) is one of the most iconic and widely used chord progressions in Flamenco, known for its haunting, descending pattern that evokes a poignant feel.

Which modes are typically used in Flamenco guitar?

Flamenco frequently employs the Phrygian mode, also known as the Spanish gypsy scale, which is essential for achieving the quintessential Flamenco sound, especially noticeable in simple transitions like an E chord to an F chord.

What are 'Por Arriba' and 'Por Medio' in Flamenco music?

In Flamenco, "por arriba" refers to using E major and A minor chord shapes, while "por medio" typically uses A and B flat shapes. These terms help guitarists quickly identify the chord shapes and progressions typical to Flamenco.

Can beginners easily learn Flamenco guitar chords?

Yes, beginners can start by learning basic chords and a simple strumming pattern (↓ ↑ ↓ ↑ with the index finger). More complex skills, especially those involving the right hand, can be developed over time.

What additional types of chords are used in Flamenco music?

Flamenco guitarists also incorporate diminished and augmented chords, as well as suspended chords (such as sus4 and sus2), to add tension, resolution, and a unique sound that enhances the emotional expression of the music.

What does a typical Flamenco Bulería chord progression look like?

A typical Flamenco Bulería might use chords like A, non-barred B flat, Flamenco-style C, back to B flat, and A, played with rapid and energetic strumming to create a dynamic and vibrant musical atmosphere.

How can I learn more about playing Flamenco guitar?

Consider enrolling in a Flamenco guitar course, which typically focuses on ear training and right-hand techniques, allowing your left hand to develop naturally as you practice.

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