Boxes Riffs And How To Improvise In The Flamenco/Spanish Style

author: Dmaj7 date: 06/02/2011 category: music styles
rating: 8.7 / votes: 16 
Now before we get started I'd like to say that this lesson will NOT teach you how to play with singers and dancers, as that takes rehearsal and most of the time the soloing is composed. This lesson will teach you how to come up with flamenco/spanish style licks and chord progressions on-the-fly. This is also my first lesson. So lets get started. For this style of music, you would use the Phrygian scale, which most of the time is played in either E or A. We are going to use E for lesson. It should be an easy scale to learn because it uses the same notes as the A minor scale! Only it uses E as the tonic. The scale uses the notes E F G A B C D. You might also notice that the only difference it has between it and the E minor scale is the 2nd. The 2nd on the E Phrygian is flat. There are 2 main reasons why this scale has that certain "spanish" flavor. 1. The Half note between the tonic and the 2nd. (E and F) 2.This scale is very close to the E minor scale, but the rote note, or tonic, is an E Major. Here is a diagram:
  0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10  11  12
|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|
|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|
|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|
|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|
|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|
|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|-x-|---|-x-|---|-x-|
Here are the different "boxes" or modes that you can use for practice and use to learn the fretboard for this scale.
       E Phrygian
e|-------------------------------------------------------0--1--3-|
B|----------------------------------------------0--1--3----------|
G|-------------------------------------0--2--4-------------------|
D|-------------------------0--2--3-------------------------------|
A|-------------0--2--3-------------------------------------------|
E|--0--1--3------------------------------------------------------|
       G Mixolydian
e|--------------------------------------------3--5---------------|
B|-----------------------------------3--5--6---------------------|
G|--------------------------2--4--5------------------------------|
D|-----------------2--3--5---------------------------------------|
A|--------2--3--5------------------------------------------------|
E|--3--5---------------------------------------------------------|
       A Aeolian (Natural Minor)
e|-----------------------------------------------5--7--8---------|
B|--------------------------------------5--6--8------------------|
G|-------------------------------5--7----------------------------|
D|--------------------5--7--9------------------------------------|
A|-----------5--7--8---------------------------------------------|
E|--5--7--8------------------------------------------------------|
      C Ionian (Major)
e|----------------------------------------------7--8--10---------|
B|---------------------------------------8--10-------------------|
G|-----------------------------7--9--10--------------------------|
D|-------------------7--9--10------------------------------------|
A|---------7--8--10----------------------------------------------|
E|--8--10--------------------------------------------------------|
      D Dorian
e|--------------------------------------------------------10--12--13--|
B|--------------------------------------------10--12--13--------------|
G|---------------------------------9--10--12--------------------------|
D|----------------------9--10--12-------------------------------------|
A|--------------10--12------------------------------------------------|
E|--10--12--13--------------------------------------------------------|
You might've noticed that I left out 2 modes, but that is because I gave you the 5 most common modes, which do connect you all the way across the fretboard. But if you would like to learn the fingerings the name of the two scales I left out are F Lydian and B Locrian. So lets get to the riffs. Here is something similar to what I use alot. Since you aren't going off of any tempo I would start off slow by ringing out the first F and then slowly picking up speed and by the time you are playing on the E string you be at your fastest speed. There aren't really any rules to this, because you are the only instrument and are playing freely.
e|-------------------------------------------------------------------0--|
B|-------------------------------------------------------------------0--|
G|-------------------------------------------------------------------1--|
D|-------------------------------------------------------------------2--|
A|--/8~---7--8--8/10-8-7--5/7-5-3------------------------------------2--|
E|--------------------------------8/10-8-7-7/8-7-5h7p5-3h5p3-1h3p1---0--|
Spanish style also uses many chords over the tonic or "E" which means you would use the chords F/E and G/E quite often. They can be used In a way such as this.
       Measure 1
e|--0-000-0-000-0-000--|
B|--0-000-0-000-0-000--|
G|--1-111-2-222-4-444--|
D|--2-222-3-333-5-555--|
A|--2-222-3-333-5-555--|
E|--0-000-0-000-0-000--|
In Measure 1 you would quickly strum and E chord and then slide up on fret to an F/E and then up 2 more to a G/E
       Measure 2
e|-------------5h7h8-8/10-8-7---------10--12--- 13----15----13-----12~--|
B|----------6h8---------------10810/12--12--13----13----15----13---12~--|
G|----5h7/9-----------------------------------14----14----16----14-13~--|
D|-/7--------------------------------------------------------------14~--|
A|-/7-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--0-------------------------------------------------------------------|
In measure 2, you would start off by srumming the top three strings (this is all in rhythym with measure 1) with your thumb then using your index or middle finger (picking hand) to start the picking on the g-string. I want to break down this section below. What you're going to do here is use you're index finger (on your fretting hand) for the e-string, your middle finger for the B-string and your ring finger for the first 14 on the g-string. After you hit the first 14, you will then bar the e and B string with your index and put your middle finger on the g-string. You will add the ring finger back on to the D-string when you hit the E major chord.
e|--10--12--- 13----15----13-----12~--|
B|12--12--13----13----15----13---12~--|
G|----------14----14----16----14-13~--|
D|-------------------------------14~--|
A|------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------|
Now I still want to talk theory about this section. As you can see I put the chord names over the arpeggios (picked chords). This is where some Flamenco theory comes in. Normally, the F/E might be called a C/E or an Em6. But since it uses the F's 5th (C)and not the E's fifth (B), in Flamenco/Spanish, it has a sound of an F/E. Especially after hitting the F/E in Measure 1.
        F/E   F     G     F      E
e|--10--12--- 13----15----13-----12~--|
B|12--12--13----13----15----13---12~--|
G|----------14----14----16----14-13~--|
D|-------------------------------14~--|
A|------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------|
And here is one last riff. The first 5 notes are from Van Halen's "Spanish Fly." It kinda has that "F/E" sound I've been talking about. It is really useful for starting out your piece, or after you've just ended a solo.
e|-12-------12h~------------------------------------0---|
B|---13-----12h~------------------------------------0---|
G|-----14---------9p7p5-----------------------------1---|
D|-------15------------9p7p5------------------------2---|
A|--------------------------8p7p5-------------------2---|
E|-------------------------------8p7pb5p0~hb3p0~h1p0ZYABLA~HUYABLA---|
I'm sure my tablature was a little confusing at the end. The 0~ meant that you let the open E ring out a little before hammering back on, instead of quickly doing the last hammer-ons and pull-offs. For example, the 8p7pb5p0~hb30~ meant that you would pull-off to the 5 and start bending it, then you would realease and let the E ring out before hammering and bending the 3. Hope you learned alot in my first lesson! I'm no expert, but I wanted to help people learn a little soloing with different scales they don't normally use. Please give me feedback! Enjoy! :) -Austin
More Dmaj7 lessons:
+ Texas Blues Licks. Episode I Music Styles 08/18/2011
Comments
Your captcha is incorrect