Tientos, a slow cante jondo music and dance in a four-count rhythm, was first developed by the singer Enrique el Mellizo (1848 -1906) as an expressive variation of the Tangos.
Poet Federico García Lorca considered the Tientos to be almost liturgical in its solemnity. Traditional Tientos lyrics - letras - set a dark mood, and have to do with loss, unrequited love, imprisionment, longing for freedom and other serious messages. Dancers strive to capture this mood in their solos.
The most notable aspect of the slow Tientos tempo is the beat structure. Where the first beat in Tangos is subdued, it is strongly emphasized in the Tientos, as is the "and" of the second beat.
Featured Tientos Video
Baile: Katerina Tomás
Toque: Stephen Dick
Cajon: Johnny Sandoval
Bass: Paulo Gustavo
This performance is from Mojácar Flamenco 2006 performance at the Madrid Theatre in Los Angeles
Although many variations are possible, the most basic form of the Tientos is as follows :
Guitar introduction - The guitarist sets the basic tempo and key
Temple - The singer sings fragments – estribillos – (le le, la, etc.) to establish thekey, pulse and mood of the piece.
The dancer’s llamada - call/cue the guitarist performs double time here. The dancer generally performs footwork.
First Letra - The singer sings the first verse, and the dancer interprets thisimpressionistically and rhythmically.
After the 1st line of the song, the singer may take a 1 or 2 compás break – the respira – and the dancer usually inserts footwork here.
Guitar falseta - a short melodic phrase that the dancer interprets lyrically.
First Escobilla - The dancer’s 1st prolonged footwork section. This ends with a llamada call in the 2nd verse.
Second Letra - Similar or identical to the 1st verse.
Second Escobilla = The dancer’s final long footwork section.
Macho - It is common for a flamenco song to end in a faster song/rhythm, and it is usually the Tangos for Tientos. The most traditional Tangos lyrics performed here are the song, "Triana."
Tientos Compás y Palmas
Depending on how you choose to think about it, the compás of Tientos can seem deceptively simple or deceptively complex. Both views are correct.
Viewed simply, tientos is a simple four-count rhythm with an added beat on the 'and' count of the second beat.
V V V V
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Viewed slightly less simply, each beat is broken into triplets, and that added beat after beat two is on the "a" of the triplet .
V V V V V
1 + a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a
Viewed with more complexity, the "a" of beat one is added and beat three is left silent, but the "a" after beat three is added.
The standard palmas for both Tientos and Tangos are:
V V V V or V V V V V
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
Sample Baile por Tientos
Baile: Yolanda Osuna
Toque: Agustin Carbonell "El Bola"
Cante: Alfredo Tejada y Antonio Campos
As with most flameno forms, the dancer's role is to interpret the underlying feel and rhythm of the Tientos as expressed by the singer and the guitarist. However, the presence of a dancer brings some important additions to the overall structure and pulse of the Tientos.
The first of these is in the dancer's llamada, which the dancer, guitarist and palmista perform at double time in relation to the slow introduction and letras. This moment is marked by fast footwork that ends abruptly on the first beat of a bar (on count 1). The guitarist resumes at the original tempo before the singer begins the first letra.
During the first letra, the singer will take a break - a respira - between the first and second lines of the letra. The dancer will often insert double time footwork here. This is referred to as a remate for the dancer (thus, a one or two compás respite from singing where a short, quick burst of footwork is added before the singer resumes).
Sample Toque por Tientos
Toque: Paco Peña
The basic compás for Tientos on the guitar can be performed with the same basic chords associated with the Tangos.
|Bb |A |Bb |A |
|Dm |C |Bb |A |
Passing chords are added to this basic pattern to create the harmony for the Letra:
|Bb |A |Bb |A |
|Dm |C |Bb |A |
|Dm |Dm |Dm |G7 |C |
|F |Bb |Bb |A |
|C |F |Bb |A |Bb |A |
Sample Cante por Tientos
Hablo con Dios (Tientos / Tangos
Cante: José Mercé
Toque: Enrique de Melchor
Mercé sings a Tientos based on a traditional letra introduced by Terremoto de Jerez. The piece quickly transforms into a Tangos.
Hablo con mi Dios y le digo
que me parece mentira
lo que tu hace conmigo
I spoke with God and I told him
How it seems to me a lie
That which you did with me