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Mel Bay's Flamenco Guitar: Basic Techniques (Book & CD) Spiral-bound – May 29, 1996

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  • Mel Bay's Flamenco Guitar: Basic Techniques (Book & CD)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Juan Serrano's incredible musical execution has been witnessed and enjoyed by millions around the world. Serrano has drawn awe and praise from his audiences, aficionados, critics, and artistic peers. Critics have called him the "best flamenco guitarist living today."

But Juan Serrano is more than just an incredibly gifted guitarist. He is also an exceptional and rare musical resource who can communicate his art on a very personal level unlike other great Spanish guitarists who normally only perform in a strict concert setting where the audience receives little orientation about flamenco from the artist. Serrano speaks both English and Spanish which enables him to give enlightening explanations during his performances that give his audiences a rare insight into flamenco. He has performed on major television and radio programs throughout the world. In addition, Serrano has authored several music books and videos distributed by Mel Bay Publications which instruct guitar players on the origins of flamenco and its techniques. He has also written Flamenco, Body and Soul, a history of flamenco for the aficionado published by the Press at California State University.

Serrano's mastery of flamenco not only comes from his many years of discipline and study of the guitar, but also because he grew up in Cordoba, Spain, the birthplace of this rich and dazzling music. At age nine, Serrano was studying under his father, a professional guitarist, and learning the traditions of flamenco which is a fusion of Jewish, Moorish, Christian and Gypsy musical elements between the 8th and 15th centuries in Andalucia. Juan made his professional debut at age 13 and as a teenage earned a reputation all over Spain and Europe as a gifted musician. He performed and recorded with the top flamenco musical, dance, and theatrical companies. At this time Serrano also started his solo career. His home town of Cordoba was so proud of his accomplishments that they replaced the bell in the town clock with recordings of his guitar playing.

Cordoba also awarded Serrano the Porto de Oro. This prestigious honor is awarded once every ten years and Serrano is the only guitarist ever to be so honored. Serrano received the Page One Ball from the Newspaper Guild of New York for his outstanding performances. He was also awarded the Medalla de Oro from the Spanish Academy of Fine Arts, the Catedra de Flamencologia from Jerez, Spain, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. The city of Fresno bestowed Serrano with the "Fabulous Fresnan" and "Horizon" awards. Serrano is the only flamenco guitarist in the world with a doctorate in humane letters and a tenured faculty position at a major university. He developed the guitar program at California State University and heads the guitar department. In addition to his teaching duties, Serrano is much sought after as a performer, for master classes and as a guest lecturer on the history of flamenco. Serrano's latest recordings are a series of five compact discs, Masters of Flamenco, Volumes 1-5 and The Art of Flamenco Guitar released by Planet Records; Flamenco Festival, a re-release by BMG; Grandes Guitarras by Phillips; and Sabor Flamenco released by Concord Picante.


Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Mel Bay Publications; 1st edition (May 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786625562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786625567
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 9.2 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #874,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 2000
The exercises are a good supplement if you are using another method book. It does not include enough explanatory material if you are using it as your sole method. The section on tremelo, for example, could use explanation. The photographs and exercises for rasgueo are very good. The included pieces are not for complete beginners, though the exercises seem like they would be useful to master or practice for all levels - some of the exercises are not easy but make a notable difference in your ability to play once they are mastered. All the exercises and pieces are on the CD. The CD has only the music with no explanations or verbal text which is advantagous when you just need to hear the music example. This is a book which could be useful to a player for a long time I think.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Papaioannou on July 12, 2005
This book is nice in a way because not only does it feature everything in music notation, but also in tablature, atleast in a rather... more complicated type of tablature, so the rhythm is clear.

I believe that everyone who wants to learn flamenco should, no HAS to learn how to read music notation. So I don't know if I truly welcome the author's decision to waste half of the book on tabs.

Anyway, it gives a modest amount of study exercises for the various techniques you will need to practice for flamenco guitar. There's scales, legatos, thumb exercises, tremolos, RASGUEADO(the definitive FLAMENCO technique, BUY The Art of Rasgueado if you want to learn this technique) and some arpeggio exercises.

What is nice about this book is that it showcases different styles and forms of flamenco music with a one page description of the origin and rhythm, and a sample piece, which is of a rather beginner's difficulty, not too bad. This is what this book is really helpful for, not the exercises supplied in the first 20 or so pages. If you're just starting off with a nylon string guitar and need to learn proper stature, positioning, music notation, tone, etc... I highly recommend Christopher Parkening's Classical Guitar Theory Volumes 1 and 2. Everything taught as classical theory will crossover for flamenco.

In conclusion, this isn't the book to get if you're just now picking up a flamenco guitar, but once you get comfortable with it and have learned some theory, pick it up for its introduction to varied flamenco forms and styles.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By TranqB on January 4, 2005
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This book would make a good supplement to someone taking lessons from a flamenco guitarist. This is not a good book for someone trying to learn this on their own. The right hand techniques of flamenco are syncopated and require the right form from day one.

Only if someone has the correct technique can they ever dream of achieving the speed needed to play a flamenco soleas.Flamenco guitar is the most demanding of all acoustic guitar techniques for the right hand, I would recommend Juan Martin or Herrera's videos to learn flamenco. You need to see the techniques to really understand how to execute them
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 2000
I usually avoid Mel Bay but this one could last a guitarist a lifetime in learning.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Mitchell on May 18, 2010
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I can't say that I have any more experience with Flamenco than listening to they Gypsy Kings and seeing one or two players in late night venues in South Beach (I do have a few years of experience with acoustic guitar and finger picking). I can say that this book is a good introduction into the amateur Flamenco world.

The book begins with some basics on how to hold your hand and how to read the music. Each picking finger is associated with a letter in PIMAS and your left fretting hand also has instructions as to what fingers you need to use. It gives a brief explanation of how to strum eighth note chords - something that all Flamenco players must know and probably the hardest part when starting Flamenco. Others have said it is better to see in action but you can check youtube out for that.

After the basics and some scales and chords to follow along with, you get into several short songs written in different styles of Flamenco. The songs are written in tab as well as standard notation. They are also gradually increasing in difficulty. I find myself starting from the beginning of these songs and just working my way through until I realize that my technique is too far gone to really be improving my skills, then I go back to the start. After playing for a few months, you should have learned some of the scales and chords through repetition. Then you can begin to "fake" play Flamenco, a highly enjoyable experience I can only liken to playing the blues but not needing the accompanying rhythm guitar.

Overall, the book is definitely not going to make you a master; but, the book can provide years of entertainment that will result in a steady improvement of your Flamenco guitar experience. I heard there is another "Juan" out there with a similar book/video that is better but... I am satisfied with how quickly Juan Serrano entered me into the world of amateur Flamenco guitar.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MikethePsychologist on May 6, 2013
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Mind you, I already played some classical guitar, but I was completely new to flamenco.

The book starts with easy and fun exercises and explanations of each technique. After you learn the basic techniques, the book begins intregrating them right away in Sevillanas, Farrucas, and more- real flamenco tunes! The second piece (Farrucas) actually uses every single one of the basic skills previously taught, so you get to practice it all while playing really compelling pieces.

The best part is that this book explains the history of flamenco, so you understand when it is appropriate to play each type of piece. I do recommend having a teacher at first to make sure you're doing the rasgueado, tremelo, and apoyado right because they're very different from regular techniques. Still- definitely a buy!
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