Rumba Flamenca may be the most widely known and least understood of the flamenco forms.

 

Most of the world first heard Rumba Flamenca via the Gypsy Kings in songs like Bamboleo and Volare. In Spain, Rumba Flamenca has come in and out of style since Niña de los Peines first recorded a Rumba in 1918. Since then, artists such as El Chaqueta, Chano Lobato and Miguel Vargas Jiménez (Bambino) have become closely associated with the form.

Thanks to the Gypsy Kings and their countless imitators, and to recordings like Paco de Lucia's Entre Dos Aguas, Rumba Flamenca has become essentially a two guitar form, with one guitar playing a solo melody while the other plays the harmony with the characteristic rumba rasgueado pattern, this often assisted with bass and percussion. 

Flamenco artists will often end a Tangos Gitanos with a Rumba Flamenca finale/remate por rumba.

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Rumba Form

Featured Rumba Video

Baile: Lisa Carmen

Apart from the Gypsy Kings, one of the reasons Rumba Flamenca is heard throughout the world is that it is such a flexible, easily adapted form. It can occur in any key or mode. Phrase lengths can be long or short. Tempos can be quick and driven or easy and relaxed. It's party music that can be carefully composed or improvised on the spot. As long as it has a steady Rumba Flamenca beat, it's Rumba Flamenca.

 

Rumba Compás y Palmas

Rumba Flamenca is a fast 2/4 rhythm driven largely by a distinctive strum pattern on the guitar. However, the form is so open that not even this is required.

Here is the basic Rumba rhythm on the guitar, played a palo seco, with the strings muted.

1 + 2  +

The standard palmas for Rumba Flamenca are the same as those for the Tangos Gitanos.

    V V V   V       V V V   V  

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 34 +

 

Rumba Baile

Sample Rumba Baile

Baile: Cristel Dente

Toque: Arthur Dente, El Tchoune

Cante: El Tchoune

Rumbas are festero dances and each dancer takes a turn while others provide palmas. Rumbas are seldom structured. When they are, they follow a structure similar to that of a Tangos Gitano (see the Tangos Gitano FOR DANCERS section for more information). 

In a tablao or concert setting, Tangos Gitano will often accelerate at the end of the dance and transform into a Rumba. Dancers bring many of their Tangos steps and rhythms to the Rumba choreography. 

In tablaos (nightclubs/restaurants that feature short, traditional flamenco shows) dancers on stage will usually get one or more audience members up to dance with them, making the dance a big favorite among audience members.

 

Rumba Toque

Sample Rumba Toque

Rumba Guitarra Alicante

The strum that drives the Rumba Flamenca has five simple steps:

  1. Slap the top of the guitar with the flat of your right hand, muting the strings and tapping the top of the guitar

  2. Strum upwards across the strings with the first finger

  3. Strum downward across the strings with the back of one or more fingers

  4. Strum upwards across the strings with the back of your thumb

  5. Repeat for hours on end as fast as possible.

Here's the pattern played slowly on an E minor chord capo'ed at the 2nd fret.

Rumba - Slow

Here it is at tempo:

Rumba - Fast

 

Rumba Cante

Sample Rumba Cante

Cante: Camarón De La Isla

Toque: Grupo Dolores

Volando Voy is one of Camarón's best loved rumbas. 

I go flying
I come flying
Along the way
I entertain myself

In love with life
even though it hurts sometimes

If I'm cold
I look for a candle

Volando Voy
Volando Vengo
Por el camino
yo me entretengo

Enamorao de la vida
aunque a veces duela

Si tengo frio
busco candela

 
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