The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #156004   Message #3675509
Posted By: Don Firth
07-Nov-14 - 02:17 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Manitas de Plata, old 'silver fingers'
Subject: RE: Obit: Manias de Plata, old 'silver fingers'
Manitas de Plata (Ricardo Baliardo) was a gypsy, but he was not Spanish, he was French. And one of his idols was Django Reinhardt, who was also a gypsy born in France and played jazz.

Flamenco guitar, which is used to accompany dancers and singers, follows a strict form for each of the song and dance types, and if the guitarist (or any of the ensemble) depart from those forms, it throws the others off and makes the whole thing crash and burn.

And one of the tests of a good flamenco guitarist is how well he follows—and works within—those strict forms.

Good "primer" on Flamenco HERE. Read especially the section on Compás.

Manitas de Plata use flamenco technique, but he's all over the place as far as the forms are concerned. He's more jazz than flamenco. Hence the lack of regard from genuine flamenco guitarists.

What makes me such an expert on Flamenco? I'm not. But during the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, I took four months' lessons from Antonio Zori, one of the flamenco guitarists who accompanied dancers at the Spanish Village exhibit at the fair. During those four months, Antonio taught me four of the flamenco forms, the Soleares, Allegrias, Granadinas, and Farruca. Each of these follows a strict rhythmic and harmonic form, and if you depart from this—it ain't flamenco anymore, even if it sounds like it to the untutored ear.

Manitas da Plata possesses a prodigious technique, but among other things, he does not use the thumb and all four fingers of his right hand, except in the rasqueados (rolling the backs of his nails across the string in the characteristic "strumming" technique. He does not pluck with the little finger, and not very often with the ring finger. The rapid scale passages are done by alternating index middle index middle. The little finger is too short for this kind of plucking and attempting to use it throws the rest of the hand out of position.

I have watched the videos carefully, and even though I can't do it anywhere near as blazingly fast as he does, I DO know what he's doing.

Don Firth