Thomas Lorenzo , Flamenco Guitar Music Artist
I love to improvise, and I always use as reference, how harmony is portrayed in Flamenco; to develop all the creative ideas that flow through my soul.
My initial background in music was that of blues and jazz; I simply adore Muddy Waters, Hendrix Coltrane, Miles Davis and many more. However, these very emotional styles, lack some of ingredients that flamenco resorts to, for example, silence and extreme contrast, that you can develop as a solo instrument, or as the accompanist. Flamenco, the form of expression, creates the pathway for a controlled turmoil of emotion.
Flamenco, Vertical expression
In Jazz, Blues, Pop, Rock and other similar styles, we hear layers of sound that define the melody and the accompaniment, in a more horizontal manner, where we reach intensity or the climax of the song slowly. In Flamenco, there are very few layers of sound, and the climax of the song can be welcomed every few bars. Once you have screamed it out, silence and sweetness will take over. This placid emotional state, will very quickly build up, and once again bring the emotional wave to the peak, where you will seek the contrast to rebuild. Think of it, as feeling a series of waves on the beach, that come in groups, that peak in size, and disappear to repeat again in short moments.
Most styles of music, generally develop their emotional contour more horizontally, but Flamenco Guitar Music Artists, can enjoy a more vertical approach to music.
I also adore using this form of expression, on any type of song, because I can colour as a solo instrument the groove; the melodic contour of the accompaniment. The Flamenco Guitar can be very rhythmic, so this carrier wave, is the perfect means, for all the possible colours of the guitar to come through. The instrument can be both lyrical, or harmonic. It can also be extremely active, or passive, in all areas of the song, either as the lead or as the accompanist.
Flamenco guitar music and playing, will open your mind to a very creative, and powerful interpretation of any song.
Flamenco and Creativity
When I started off playing styles as Pop, Jazz and Blues, I used to, as an accompanist sit on a chord, play some fills every while and then, and stick to the groove. Furthermore, as the lead, my playing would define the melody, and outline a given chord, with some variations.
This, after a while became boring, and when I listened to artists as Hendrix, Montgomery, Monk, I knew there was more. I could hear in their playing constant turmoil, and shifting of tension. I asked and asked, and no teacher was able to give me an answer to the question: how to achieve this richness in expression. All they could state, was to transcribe solos, and analyse how musicians would accomplish their expression.
The problem with this approach, is that these artists develop all their creative output in a group setting, and whenever I played, what they did, on my own, it would not sound the same. I needed to understand how to create all this expression on my own.
That is when, I immersed in Flamenco, and started hearing a guitar that would sound totally independent, good in its own, in constant harmonic vibrance. Good Flamenco Guitar music artists, do not sit on a chord, or given harmonic structure, they constantly vary it, to get powerful intensity in a very short period.
I finally stumbled upon a style of music, where I could hear all the richness of the great Pop, Rock Jazz bands, on one instrument. As a Flamenco Guitar Music Artist, I have learnt to play very rich melodies and accompaniment, in an agitated, harmonic or melodic manner.
In simple words, when I see a C chord, I can now use all the chords of the key, that I need, in a given bar. My bass lines no longer sit on a chord and I can focus on creating just powerful melodies in all registers. I have also learnt that power comes from playing soft and with clarity.
Once and for all, I now understand Coltrane and all my major influences, with total enjoyment. I can play the same song for hours at a time, as I can hear so many variations in my head, that I just cannot stop looking for them especially live in concert.
I am also happy to share all my musical experience though my guitar instruction and guitar lessons my Melbourne Creative Guitar School.
How has this influenced your musical production work.
I can now create layers of sound that are more independent. For example, in bands, most of the time, all instruments develop the same groove, and just place layer on layer, of melodic lines and rhythms, that are a consequence of the harmony and groove. However, I sometimes feel lack of clarity in this form of playing, as even the great masters, can only achieve a fat wall of monophonic sound, in a climax.
Flamenco, has opened up my mind, to hearing bands in a more spacial concept: groove can be well defined without the need of all members smashing it at once. Imagine that you have 4 instruments playing together, when you hear them in isolation, you can hear 4 songs. When you put them together, you hear one song. This form of playing music, produces in me, extreme pleasure.
As a session guitarist, and in all my music productions, I now carry over to them, the flamenco form of expression. In other words, clarity and extreme richness, that just feels good.
The Flamenco Guitar is a form of expression and not an instrument
I would like to clarify, that you can apply this form of expression, to any type of guitar and not only the traditional Flamenco Guitar. You can perform in this manner, with an acoustic, or Electric Guitar, with any timbre.
How to use a Flamenco Guitar in your next production
The reality is, that the Flamenco Guitar, or Spanish Guitar, does not have much sustain, and a relatively thin spectrum. An Electric Guitar, has a denser sound than an acoustic and even more than the nylon string, which means, that it will project with more clarity, in a music production with dense sustained sounds.
Sometimes I can overcome this, by adding harmonics to the Spanish Guitar, with slight tube distortion. But, in a band situation, with lyrical instrumentation, as more than one voice, synths, wind instruments, the instrument will not carry well, and it will be very hard, for the timbre, to project and be heard with clarity.
The Flamenco Guitar, as an instrument, will sound clearer alongside another acoustic instrument, as an upright bass, piano or acoustic guitar. However, if you wish to arrange the Flamenco Guitar with an electric piano, guitar or bass, you will struggle to achieve a natural projection and clarity.
Most sustained sounds, will simply just obliterate the instrument, there fore, forcing the Flamenco Guitar artists, to play in manner, where the little sustain of the instrument, will disappear.
As a general rule , if you wish to use the Flamenco Guitar, in your next musical production, with success, you must learn to think like this instrument. The instrument creates thin staccato sounds. Therefore, if you can sing what you want the instrument to do, with very short staccato type phrases, with the da syllable, and it sounds good in context, then your arrangement will be a success.
Choice of guitars: Electric, Acoustic or Nylon.
As a session guitarist, I will take into consideration, what your composition and the arranger needs, and will suggest the most adequate instrument, for your song to shine with. My creative output, is the same on all types of guitars. What changes in my creative output, is the way I talk with each instrument.
The denser the guitar spectrum( sound) the production needs, the more I will select the instrument that has more overtones. This criteria, can also be applied to types of Electric Guitars. In general, guitars with single coil pick ups ( The Stratocaster Sound), have less overtones than hum buckers ( The Gibson Sound); humbucker pickups, sound fatter.
In summary, I consider myself a Flamenco Guitar Music Artist, that applies the richness of this unique musical style, to all others forms and contexts of contemporary musical expression as, Jazz, Rock Blues and Pop, with any type of guitar: Flamenco, Acoustic or Electric Guitar.
I must thank Flamenco, for opening up my mind, to a world of flowing creativity and satisfaction.