Flamenco is an oral tradition, and most start as a baby.
But if you’re new to this art form, you need to keep a few things in mind.
Learning To Sing Flamenco.
When most of us start, we are indulged by the singer’s magic, and we want to do just the same by ear.
However, perhaps you have a big, heavy voice and the artist has a light agile one. Your voice does not agree with so many tricks and twists.
You want to imitate and sing the adornments but all you get is a kind of scream that burns your throat like acid!
The Truth Is:
You will never be able to sing like your idols, cause you’re not them.
You will just try to imitate without knowing what is going on.
These tips will help you to keep a healthy voice, not to scratch it to death.
Find a Good Teacher.
Spain as an incredible number of good singers, but I can assure you that most of them don’t know how to teach what they know instinctively.
Search for a teacher that can sing to you the basic melody without all the adornments and with the right tones. This is very important. He or she is able to help you add the adornments later. However every learning experience has something to give you.
Who knows what your brain records from these private shows!
Listen To A Lot of Flamenco Recordings.
Start from 1909 recordings and on.
You will be amazed to see how the esthetic of singing has got nothing to do with the idea most foreigners get listening to nowadays flamenco.
Sing With Your Natural Voice.
Remember that flamenco is like speaking to someone, but with a greater voice register.
You cannot scream all the time to make it sound flamenco.
Use your speaking voice with wider range of tones to express more emotions.
- No falseto
- No lyrical voice
These use another technique to project the voice but:
Any training you have had in singing will help when it comes to breathing, like how to use the diaphragm.
Learn To Write Your Lyrics (Cante) Line by Line.
So you can understand:
- What you’re singing
- The pronunciation.
- How the lines are spread and said in the rhythm.
Singing by ear is nice but I can assure you that when you do a reality check with your recorder you’ll laugh at your magic thinking!
Write It Phonetically The Way You Hear It:
(like a new language for example)
- Manana, manana lo van a prender manana
- A todos los ojitos negros, lo van a prender manana
- Y tu que negro lo tiene
- Hechate un velo a la cara
- Tomorrow, tomorrow
- They will take and send way all the dark eyes (Catholics took over Arabs in Spain 800 yr ago)
- And you, who got them dark
- Put a scarf on your head
Write it down phonetically, if it helps you.
- MananaAA, mananaAA, lovan a prender mananaAA
- Ato lossoito nééégro lovan a prender mananaAA
- Ituké négrolo tiénééé
- Échatéoun béloala karaAA
Mark Where The Melody Goes Up & Down.
This helps to you to remember how the melody flows.
It makes you guide the guitarists as they watch your melody changes.
Sing With a Metronome or Use Solo Compas.
I strongly recommend Doctor Compas flamenco metronome application for this.
Working with tangos for example...
Put on a tangos track from Solo Compas and sing line by line in rhythm.
A good trick is to listen to some YouTube videos of the same tango to get the sense of the phrasing.
Learn to Clap & Sing on Your Own.
This is most important if you want to sing for dancers.
Emotions into the Rythm Will Come With Time.
Studying the art of flamenco singing takes patience and a good ear:
- Record yourself
- Listen to your voice
- Learn to analyse your voice
- And analyse the structure of the lyrics in rhythm
It is not only the beauty of your voice that will charm the public or give the flamenco groove...
It is you singing into the rhythm with the right rhythmical accentuation that will make your public tick.
Knowing what you’re doing is the key to magic 🙂
If you don't have the money to come to Spain,
you can start on YouTube.
I found plenty of free classes starting with how to sing using the diaphragm, and voice lessons which are not necessarily flamenco but use natural speaking voice like flamenco.
Do you have any tips for learning to sing flamenco?
Post them in the comments below.
Written by Linda Lamarche
A Flamenco singing student living in Spain. Originally from Montreal, Québec.