Flamenco singing technique

Flamenco Singing technique

We all know what flamenco is, but perhaps we do not give the importance it deserves to cante (flamenco singing), one of the most indispensable elements in this art. Flamenco singing is usually defined as one that is Andalusian but with gypsie notes, with great passion.

In this post we have decided to focus on this discipline within flamenco, as like dance and guitar, flamenco singing also has its characteristics, its technique and it is good to to know the styles that each singer uses, besides it will help us to differentiate it from other singing styiles.

Regarding the history of flamenco singing as well as flamenco itself, it is not entirely clear, although it is believed that it was originated from the mixture of Arab, Jewish and Christian cultures, in addition to that of the gypsies themselves.

There is no reference whatsoever about the first cantaores (singers) and it is that, it is thought that this art was born within the daily life of the gypsies, as a way to express their problems, loves…

Flamenco is today known throughout the world, being a typical part of Spanish art, and forming part of the culture of Andalusia. Flamenco singing has evolved to what know today, there are simpler cantes and others, which are mixtures of different styles.

To know well the technique of flamenco singing, it is essential to know that it is a very demanding discipline and to understand from the first moment what is done with the voice, in addition to understanding that the singer must feel it and that it has to come from his very inside.

There is no single technique to sing flamenco, but many, although it is true that there is a common method of singing it based on the way of expressing that cante with its melody and its way of phrasing.

4 key points to consider when singing flamenco

Frm casa del arte flamenco, we think it´s important not just to know our culture, but communicating it outside, because of this we consider that the teaching and teachers of Flamenco Techniques must be professional and qualified people. The singing requires a good control of the throat and its very important to pay attention to prevent injuries when singing flamenco. 

Its also very important to know that any person can sing flamenco, because there is no need for a special kind of voice for it. Every single voice is valid for cante flamenco, but it requires a bit of tuning.

Memorizing and listening, factors for a good flamenco singing

One of the factors, is to memorize and listen, it seems simple, right? You have to know how to imitate and capture all the vocal resources and the way of phrasing to make the flamenco cante sound, since there is nothing written and everything has been passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.

There has to be straight contact between the cantaor and the student, or continuous listening to recordings in order to more easily grasp all these elements of flamenco singing. You have to listen and listen, since this is the only way to assimilate and perfectly imitate all the vocal resources used in this cante. Afterwards, you just have to sing with your natural voice, without forcing it, since it can cause injuries to your throat.

We advise you that while you sing, you take into account your body awareness, that is, you know how to transmit what your body feels at that moment.

Another important factor for flamenco singing: The spoken voice

When it comes to singing, you have to be fluent in the language you are going to sing, as well as to understand perfectly everything that is being said, in order to be able to interpret it.

In flamenco singing, the ideal voice sound that one tries to achieve is a fat sound, with low harmonics. At this point, underline that you never have to force your voice, flamenco is sung with a natural voice, in addition, we avoid possible damage to the larynx or vocal cords. We have to achieve a cracked voice typical of flamenco singing for this: we must have a hot voice; having prior knowledge of the melody of the song to be performed, body awareness… in short, having everything under control; and have an adequate knowledge of your own body.

When singing with a natural voice, you do not have to be aware of where to place your voice, or where to put your tongue, thus avoiding somewhat forced sensations.

Body awareness, the essential factor to sing flamenco

When flamenco is sung, we must always take into account our body consciousness, feel our whole body while singing. We know that it is complicated and requires a great effort that with practice gradually takes hold. You have to achieve that connection with the body while singing flamenco, because if we lose concentration with our body, it causes the cante to lose strength.

We have to have a great body awareness when singing flamenco, since this will help us to dominate the muscles around the diaphragm so that the air does not go out of control. It is necessary to control the diaphragm through the abdominal girdle in order to manage the air, ensuring that it does not escape.

In flamenco singing, the face also stands out a lot within the body consciousness. The face is the reflection of the soul and in this case, the faces and gestures that are made with it when singing are very characteristic of this art, transmitting all kinds of feelings.

It seems that the gestures that appear on the face when flamenco is sung, come out alone, that is, they appear as a consequence of the technique itself, or trying to find the ideal sound, are typical of this cante. In short, body awareness in the face serves to activate facial resonators, which act as sound filters. It has also been observed that in this way, the lyrics of the song are better understood, at the same time that it is given greater feeling, expression.

The famous phrasing of flamenco singing

Phrasing is another of the necessary requirements to be able to sing flamenco, but … What exactly is phrasing? It is a musical technique where notes, timbres, rhythmic figures are combined … forming phrases full of musical meaning so characteristic of flamenco. But also, in the case of this cante, ornamentation is added, which are the different effects, ornaments, noises that are made when singing flamenco and give it that touch, that expressiveness typical of this beautiful art.

This typical flamenco phrasing is often referred to as vocal resources and they are classified into ornaments, effects, vibratos and attacks.

This phrasing could be said to be the characteristic element of flamenco, since, no matter your tone of voice, your timbre, if you learn flamenco phrasing you will get your cante to be too.

In conclusion, with all that has been said about the technique of flamenco singing so far, we can see that it is essential to practice and listen to a lot of cante, to do it with a spoken voice, to learn body awareness to involve the whole body in the cante and to be able to phrase to achieve authentic flamenco singing.