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Mojácar Flamenco performing Soleares.

About Soleares

Soleares is often referred to as the mother of all flamenco forms because so many other important forms are derived from it. It may be more accurate to think of soleares as the most flamenco of flamenco forms. All the elements of soleares, including its 12-count compás with an irregular beat structure, its Andalusian cadence, and its melodic and melissmatic gestures are unique to flamenco.

Soleares first evolved in the late 18th Century from a dance form called Jaleo. As it evolved through the 19th Century, it took on a more solemn, cante jondo character, probably due to its inclusion in the Cafés Cantantes as a featured song and flamenco dance. Various forms of soleares developed associated with different cities and individuals. At the beginning of the 20th Century new forms were derived from soleares, including bulerías and soleá por bulerías.

A common belief is that the word soleares is derived from the Spanish word soledad, or sorrow. Sorrowful, unrequited love is a main theme of the letras, along with other bittersweet lamentations.

Form

Compás

Palmas

Video Samples

HOME DANCE LESSONS GUITAR LESSONS CANTE LESSONS CDS VIDEOS GUIDES FLAMENCO FORMS
About Soleares

Form

The essential form of soleares is the essential form for many palos:

1) A guitar introduction that sets the mood, key and tempo of the piece.

2) A temple/salida, in which the singer uses simple syllables to tune into the guitar and fix the tempo.

3) Two or three sung letras, generally interspersed with falsetas by the guitarist.

4) If a dancer is part of the performance, the dancer will interpret the letras lyyically and rhythmically, and will perform an escobilla or even several escobillas, footwork sections at a faster tempo, accompanied by a standardized series of arpeggios on the guitar.

5) A dance, guitar or cante performance may also include a macho, a transition to a faster form with the same basic underlying compás. It is a common practice to transition directly into bulerías, or to soléa por bulerías transitioning into bulerías.


Compás

The compás for soleares is the essential underlying compás that is characteristic of much flamenco music, a twelve-count pattern with accents on beats 3, 6 , 8, 10 and 12.


Palmas

Standard palmas for Soleares are:

V V V V V V V V V
V
V V
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 +

Other standard palmas for Soleares are:

V
V V V V V V V V V V V
V
12 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 +

In both of the above examples, palmas can be added as a flourish on counts + 11 + 12. This is a common addition to soleares palmas pattern.


For Dancers The presence of a dancer expands the overall form of a soleares performance to include footwork. The dancer also has a role in each part of a performance.
Entrada/Salida The dancer's entrance, usually performed to a guitarist's falseta or rhythm music. Also often performed as the singer performs the temple/salida.
Llamada A cue for the singer. Often percussive and marked by bold gestures, the llamada cues the singer to sing the first letra.
Letra The dancer interprets the mood and rhythm of the singer's letra, often using traditional steps, phrases and patterns. Most letras are approximately 7-8 sets of compás (sets of 12 count phrases).
Falseta It isn't standard practice, but a guitarist will often perform one of more falsetas for the dancer to interpret lyrically. This section usually occurs after a letra.
Subida, palmas, escobilla The dancer will often use footwork or palmas to speed up the tempo (the subida), leading either into a fast, repetitive footwork sequence that leads into the escobilla.
Llamada, letra, subida, remate The sequence of steps described above, from llamada through subida, is often repeated with a second letra building up to a remate (a finish/finishing moment). This pattern may be repeated for a third letra as well, again culminating in a remate.
Escobillas Long sequences of footwork, accompanied on the guitar either playing a palo seco (dry) or performing a standardized arpeggio pattern.
Bulerías, Finale A soleares performance will often close with a transition into a bulerías, a faster form with a related underlying compás. This may be brief, just long enough to get the dancer off stage, or as long or longer than the initial soleares. The dancer may also choose to transition to soléa por bulerías briefly, and then into bulerías.

For Guitarists
Although contemporary flamenco artists often experiment with new keys, the traditional keys for soleares are por medio (A Phrygian), and por arríba (E Phrygian).

For the most part, the patterns the guitarist plays in each of these keys are the same patterns transposed into the respective keys. The exception is the letra. As you'll see below, the harmony for the letra por arriba is a little more complex than the harmony por medio.

Por Medio (A)
Letras

1st, 2nd Lines

Repeat this first pattern as needed to fit the amount of time it takes the singer to sing the first two lines. (The notes in parentheses are bass notes commonly added to the basic chords.)

A
Bb A Bb A
(d c bb)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

3rd, 4th Lines

Repeat this two compás pattern to accompany the third and fourth lines.

A
C9 F
(d c bb)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Bb
A
(bb c bb) (d c bb)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Here is a sample of the accompaniment for all four lines. (Capo V)

Llamadas Llamadas are used to mark the beginning or end of a section in flamenco. Here is the llamada for a soleares por medio.
A
Bb A Bb A Bb A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Cambio A cambio is used either as rhythm music to mark time, or as a transitional pattern to move from soleares into bulerías.
Bb/d
Fmaj7 Bb/d A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Escobilla An escobilla is a traditional arpeggiated pattern used to accompany a dancer's footwork.
A
Dm Dm A
a c# e d f a Bb A Bb a e a
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Por Arriba (E)
Letras

1st, 2nd Lines

Repeat this two compás pattern to accompany the 1st and 2nd lines.

E
E7 Am
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Am
G F F E F E
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

3rd, 4th Lines

Repeat this two compás pattern to accompany the third and fourth lines.

E
E7 G7 C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Am
G F F E F E
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Here is a sample of the accompaniment for all four lines. (Capo V)

Llamadas
E
F E Fmaj7 E Fmaj7 E
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Cambio
Fmaj7
C Fmaj7 E
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Escobilla
E
Am Am E
e g# b a c e f e f e b e
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Sample Cante Here are samples of two tradtional letras, sung por medio and por arríba. Notice how essentially the same lyrics take on different melodies in the two different keys.

The translation is, of necessity, more poetic than literal. Camelo (Camelar) is a word from the Spanish Gypsy langage called Calo, and means to seduce or to decieve.

Por Medio:

Ya mi mare de... mi alma
Lo que, la camelo yo

lo que, la camelo yo

Y es que la llevo-o.. metia
Ay... mu dentro de mi ... corazon.

Y es que la llevo...metia
Ay...mu dentro de mi ... corazon.

 

Oh, mother of my soul
how I lied to her.

And i carry her with me, deep within my heart.

Por Arríba

A la mare de mi alma
Ay... lo que la camelo yo

Lo que yo quiero a mi mare
Lo que la camelo yo

La llevo siempre conmigo
Ay... metia en el corazón

Siempre la llevo conmigo
Ay... metia en el corazón.

To the mother of my soul
I lied.

I loved my mother
I deceived her.

I carry her with me always
deep in my heart.

Always I carry her with me
deep in my heart.


Video Samples

Al Baile

Al Toque

Al Cante