Palmas – first edit (More to come)

Without Mrs Maki’s inestimable help I couldn’t have put together this post on the art of Palmas Flamencas (Flamenco Handclaps).

Palmas are an essential part of the genre which along with taconeo (heel stamping) and cajón (intricate rhythms beaten with bare hands on a wooden box) provide the percussion to this ageless and timeless music. The palmero is not just someone who claps in time with the music. He or she is an essential part of it.

We’re going to start with the two main types of clap – the sordas or deeper sounding claps made with the palm of the hand curved (to allow air in to soften the sound) and the agudas with the palm flat that gives a much sharper sound. In the following video both are demonstrated and then combined.

Now we need to take a look at compás or rhythm or beat. Many flamenco palos or styles use a repeating twelve beat rhythm – the strong beats usually but, not always, being 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12. The palmero will also mark time with his/her heel on that beat to reinforce it. The more palmeros the more syncopated the compás. As demonstrated here:

Now that we’ve got our palmas we need to see taconeo and cajón. Here’s a demonstration of taconeo:

And a multicultural (Peru meets Spain) one of cajón (The great thing about the cajón is that you get to sit on your instrument – if only I had a sense of rhythm! It’d be the perfect job for me!):

So you put it all together and you get this! Or something better! But this is what we get in the park near where I live any given weekend and it makes more sense to post this than a polished “made for connoisseurs” Joaquín Cortés video!

From here on the combinations are endless. But back to palmas, ´cause, after all, this week it’s all about clapping! Here are some tanguillos with the audience doing the palmas – a bit like the Radetsky thing at New Year – but this audience keeps time!

We could go on forever, but that’s enough for starters!

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