What is the Flamenco Alegrías?
Alegrias, meaning joy, are a lively branch of Soleares that originated in Cadíz. Simialr to the Solea, this form also has a compás cycle of 12 beats. Guitarists usually play the them at a tempo of 100-180 BPM.
The Alegrias are in a major key (typically E major or A major). This flamenco palo is one of the most popular to perform with a dancer or as a solo.
Parts of the Alegrias Flamenco Guitar Performance
The structure of the Alegrias can change depending on whether you’re playing as a solo guitarist, accompanying a singer, or accompanying a dancer.
For the most part it’s a series of compás and falsetas. However, within this basic structure there’s some other material that act as a cue for dancers. Specifically, the llamada, silencio, and escobilla.
When accompanying a singer, the alegrias has between one and four letras, or sung verses. Each of these letras may have three or four 8-syllable lines.
The subject matter of the songs are often about sailors. This makes sense because Cadíz is a coastal city.
Note that guitarists will sometimes perform a letras section even without a singer.
Llamadas are dramatic, single compás sections that you’ll encounter in several flamenco forms. When accompanying a dancer, the main role of the alegrais llamada is to indicate a transition between sections. For instance, you might play a llamada to introduce or conclude a flaseta.
These are typically loud and intense phrases so that the dancer has a clear cue of what’s coming next.
Although most people associate the Alegrias with dancing, this is also one of the popualr forms to accompany a singer.
The Alegría includes two sections for the dancer, one of which is the escobilla. The escobilla is a section when the dancer shows off their fancy footwork. This two compás phrase includes a virtuosic guitar solo and gradual increase in rhythm.
A second section that accompanies the dancer is the silencio. The silencio is a slow and dramatic section that’s usually played in the parallel minor key. For instance, if you were originally in the key A major, then the silencio would be played in the key A minor.
Because this section is more of a guitar solo, guitarists can take some liberty with the rhythm. Therefore, this section can be played either with a strict compás rhythm, or more freely with rubato. The silencio usually lasts for six compáses cycles.
Flamenco Alegrías Examples and Links
Here are some of my favorite Alegrias flamenco guitar examples: