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.
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 + 3 + 4 +
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.
Sample Rumba Toque
Rumba Guitarra Alicante
The strum that drives the Rumba Flamenca has five simple steps:
Slap the top of the guitar with the flat of your right hand, muting the strings and tapping the top of the guitar
Strum upwards across the strings with the first finger
Strum downward across the strings with the back of one or more fingers
Strum upwards across the strings with the back of your thumb
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
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
Por el camino
yo me entretengo
Enamorao de la vida
aunque a veces duela
Si tengo frio