Flamenco and mathematics

Miguelito practicing guitar in his “home office.” August 30, 2007 12:01pm

The past week or so, I’ve been practicing guitar twice as much as usual. Even to the point of squeezing in a few technical exercises as I wait for webpages to load. tongue.gif

I could go into the reasons why I’m especially inspired, but you’ve probably heard it all before. Doesn’t really help to analyze how I got here to this state of inspiration. Just gotta focus on taking advantage of it while it lasts. It might even come as a surprise to you that I’m listening to trance in 4/4 and superimposing a bulerías compás on top of it just to challenge myself. I do that sometimes when I’m warming up at Cafe Citron on Mondays right before my show. I can’t help it since the DJ’s music is playing so damn loud! But I gotta remember that I’m playing in a place that’s well known for being a dance club. No use in trying to fight it—hence I use the dance music as a metronome as I practice bulerías.

So it takes three measures of 4/4 to cycle through one compás of bulerías. Simple concept to understand but it’s quite another thing to feel it physically. It’s just a matter of slow repetition to internalize the combination of the 4/4 beat pattern of trance (or salsa, reggaeton, merengue or whatever) against the 12 beat pattern of bulerías. One exercise to ease your way into this is to verbally count to 12 along with the music in 4/4 while emphasizing the accents. Then you can try it out on your instrument or if you’re a dancer, you can try out a marking pattern.

You can apply this idea to other palos. For example, I can remember quite a few times, dancing the first copla of Sevillanas with my dancer friends at clubs while the DJ played salsa music. It’s a musical challenge but if you can pull it off and keep it flowing smoothly, noone will realize you’re dancing something else.

There actually have been studies on the relationship of flamenco to mathematics. Google it and see for yourself.

As for today (Thursday), I have a rehearsal at 3:00pm so I better sign off and get ready. Ciao for now!