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What is the difference between Classical and Flamenco Guitar?

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

What is the difference between Classical and Flamenco Guitar?

A lot of times, people mistake Flamenco Guitar Music for Classical Guitar Music and vice versa.. What are the differentiating factors? Is it a small or immense difference?  Let's find out!

First of all, Flamenco Guitar plays Flamenco Music VS Classical Guitar plays Classical Music Most of the time...  Flamenco Music is the indigenous music of Spain VS Classical Music is music that has an advanced structure, theoretical structure and follows and builds on previous structures. Classical Music is a term popularly used to describe the music rooted in the western culture of the world. (Referred from my Blog "What is Classical Music?") CONSTRUCTION! YES!! They are actually made differently! The wood used to make a Classical Guitar is usually thicker to have a rich, warm and deep tone. The wood used to make a Flamenco Guitar is thinner to have a louder percussion effect (drumming effect) when the guitar is utilized as a rhythmic drum.  Can you play Flamenco Music with a Classical Guitar? or vice verse? ABSOLUTELY!    But please note that they're are guitars made for each purpose! REPERTOIRE, STRUCTURE, FORM AND THEORY​ There are very different repertoire between Flamenco Music and Classical Music. Flamenco music on the flamenco guitar has very fast passages with rhythmic effects and various strumming patterns before and after the guitar plays. Just like any other countries indigenous music, it is not scored as written sheet music and it is passed down via oral tradition. Classical music on the classical guitar is very structured, it has sheet music for reference and it does not require to use fast passages with a combination of chords, strumming and melody as a requirement     INSTRUMENTATION Instrumentation; what instruments are used to play a specific genre of music? in Flamenco, the instrumentation is as follows: Guitars Voices Cajon Castanets Other instruments can be included in the modern day set up such as the popular Bass Guitar. In Classical Music, there is the orchestra which includes strings, percussion, brass, wind, voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), Piano, Harp ... a lot of instruments. If a Classical Guitarist is performing a classical piece, the guitarist can perform it solo or with an orchestra (Yes! there are actually many pieces written for the classical guitar and Orchestra. A very popular one is Conceitro De Araguez!)  HARMONIZATION, IMPROVISATION AND OTHER MUSICAL ELEMENTS Flamenco music can very often use the guitar as the lead instrument. Same with Classical music for the guitar.  Flamenco Guitar Music has it's defining difference from classical guitar music by the types of notes and chords being used and IMPROVISATION. Although classical music does have improvisation, it is nowhere near the regularity of Flamenco music. When it comes to RHYTHM, Flamenco Guitar Music has a specific set of rhythms that are used If you listen to enough Flamenco Music, you can learn the names of the different rhythms. Classical Guitar Music does not have specific rhythms to be used. Classical Music is SCORED (written as sheet music) while Flamenco Guitar Music is not written and set in stone which allows for variations when performing the same piece more than once. The TONE of Flamenco Guitar Music is much more aggressive than usual Classical Guitar Music. Flamenco Guitars tend to use "Ponticello" tone which is a high and thin tone. Usually, Classical Guitar Music can carry a warm and deep tone. Flamenco Guitar Music focuses on the Major Scale, the Harmonic Minor Scale, the Phrygian Mode and a main characteristic of the choral structure is the use of the Andalusian Cadence. Classical Guitar Music does not have a set of defining scales or cadences. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What do you think? Many times when I perform or practice classical guitar, the audience or the people who are listening automatically assumes it is Flamenco or Spanish Guitar Music. And very often when I see someone playing Flamenco or Spanish Guitar Music, they label it as Classical Guitar. What are your thoughts? Can you tell me if you think there is a small or immense difference? Thank You for tuning in!

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