Comments and reviews - Flamenco Guitar DVD
Jon Boyes from Plymouth, UK wrote in the forums Flamenco-Teacher and Foro Flamenco
DVD: FLAMENCO GUITAR METHOD VOL. 1 & 2, GERHARD GRAF-MARTINEZ.
In 2002 Schott music published a new flamenco guitar method, by Gerhard Graf-Martinez (GM). This Autumn saw the release of two DVDs to accompany his method.
One of the first questions that spring to mind is how the DVDs relate to the two books/CD already published. The answer to that one is straightforward. The DVDs offer a visual illustration of the main techniques and musical examples in the books, and all the music that is featured on the accompanying CD. Notice I said main examples - the books themselves do contain a few other musical examples that are not on the videos, plus the books contain a wealth of other related information e.g. seating positions, nail care, flamenco guitars, history of flamenco, etc.
The two DVDs are intended to give a clearer picture, so to speak, of all the fundamental techniques covered in his books and thus follow the two books quite closely in terms of their content:
Techniques covered: Basic principles of rasgueado plus AMI, EAMI, AMII, punteado (up and down strokes with I), tresillo (triplet or marote) and AMIP rasgueado combinations; also pulgar technique, ayudado (alternating P with I), golpe with A & M (the latter above the soundhole) and the rumba stroke.
Palos/styles featured: Tangos, Solea, Alegrias, Rumba, Taranto, Garrotin, Fandangos De Huelva, Sevillanas.
The concept of the compas clock is introduced to illustrate the compas of and relationship between the ‘12 beat’ toques.
The rasgueado techniques in Vol.1 are available to view in three ways: normal view (close up), with onscreen score/tablature and, a very innovative touch, from behind the strings looking outward at the fingers. All clips can be viewed at normal or slow speed.
Techniques covered: arpeggio, tremolo, picado, alzapua.
The same styles as Vol.1 are again featured, with the addition of bulerias (inc. bulerias palmas).
GM teaches a contemporary approach to flamenco technique. His primary rasgueado combination is AMI, with each finger flicked off the inside of the thumb to produce a sound that is crisp and well articulated, with clear separation of the individual strokes. His preferred four stroke is AMII, and to produce a continuous rasgueado (in fours) AMII is linked together. This approach is in contrast with the older style taught in some methods (e.g. Juan Martin, Juan Serrano) of simply curling the fingers towards the palm, and producing a continuous rasgueado with an EAMI-EAMI linked roll.
Incidentally, to play a straight EAMI all down stroke rasgueado, GM recommends locking the fingers all the way into the palm, i.e. making a fist, and flicking the fingers off the inside of the palm for added spring. Personally, I find this very awkward and GM seems to rarely use it in his playing, favouring AMII for a four-stroke as already discussed.
The DVDs demonstrate a picado technique that will be familiar to fans of Paco De Lucia, with the stroke being powered almost exclusively from the middle finger joint. Actually, in GM’s case, he favours the stroke coming entirely from that joint, and advocates practising with the large knuckles hyper-extended (bent inwards towards the guitar top) to ensure that the large joint can play no part in the stroke.
Another point of interest is GM’s Alzapua, which he drives from the thumb's base joint at the wrist, as opposed to using a swivel action of the wrist and forearm favoured by players like Paco De Lucia and Tomatito. GM suggests that it is better (safer?) for beginners to develop security by playing all pulgar lines from the base joint first, before attempting to incorporate the whole of the wrist/forearm into the movement.
Apart from the rather more modern approach to technique, there are two distinguishing features about the Graf Martinez Method that set him apart from several other flamenco guitar methods on the market. The first is the contemporary feel of some of the material. For example, there are some nods towards modern day masters like Paco de Lucia and Tomatito in the falsetas, particularly the bulerias, although it has to be said that the material is kept playable!
Secondly, rather than simply publish a collection of long solos, GM presents a series of bite-sized chunks of compas material from the different styles, encouraging the student to combine and arrange as he/she wishes. This compas-focussed approach will appeal to those seeking a more authentic approach to flamenco, though people wishing to learn a few flamenco ‘pieces’ with lots of falsetas may not find it so satisfying. I have to say that whatever your needs, his approach is very effective for learning the compas of the more difficult (12 beat) toques. His presentation of bulerias compas – which wisely gets a whole chapter devoted to it in volume 2 - is excellent.
Most people agree that the best form of instruction is from a good teacher, though in many parts of the world flamenco guitar teachers are hard to come by or simply non-existent. The Graf-Martinez Flamenco Guitar Method must rank as one of the best self-tuition resources on the market and whether you are student or teacher of flamenco guitar, his new DVDs are an excellent companion to this. Recommended.
© Copyright 1995 - · Gerhard Graf-Martinez