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Palmas (music)

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Subject: Clapping game, Clapping, Palmas, Time Between Trains, Al-Andalus Ensemble, Flamenco rumba, Open the Door (Roger Hodgson album), Juana la Macarrona, The Ultimate Adventure, Paul Isola
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Palmas (music)

In Flamenco, Palmas is an essential form of percussion to help punctuate and accentuate the song and dance. Good palmas can be a substitute for music, certainly in the corrillo at the end of a show. Good palmistas can assist the musicians by keeping a strong tempo, or the dancer by accentuating the end or beginning of a phrase. In any case, an understanding of palos is essential.

The hands

It is important to be able to make two distinct types of hand claps. These are hard (fuertes) and soft (sordas). Each has a particular sound and is used at a particular time.

Fuertes

Used during furious and loud footwork or during loud musical pieces such as bulerias. The first three fingers of one hand are held firm and clapped into the outstretched palm of the other. The fingers of the striking hand should point roughly in line with the fingers on the other hand and hit in the bowl of the palm. This should result in a very crisp snappy sound.

Sordas

Used during guitar intros or during the singing so as not to drown it out. Also during quieter dance phases so as not to distract the dancer. The hands are cupped softly so that the fingers of one hand fit snugly into the gap between the thumb and forefinger of the other. When the hands are brought together a muffled pop can be heard.

Accentuation in compás

During accompaniment, different emphasis may be placed on the each of the beats to enhance the rhythm and indicate the start and end of the musical phrases. This is easily accomplished by clapping a little stronger on the requisite beat. As with footwork, one of the most difficult aspects is maintaining a steady pace without speeding up.

Contra-tiempo

Contra-tiempo palmas is a way of clapping between the normal beats in a bar. For instance, filling the space between beats with another beat or clap.

References

  • Schreiner, Claus (2003). Flamenco: Gypsy Dance and Music from Andalusia. Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-1-57467-013-4. 
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