Oscar Nieto’s Flamenco Glossary

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Aficionado/a – connoisseur, fan, non-professional performer
Alegrías – joy or happiness, a popular song/dance form in 12/8 time. Usually played in the key of A or E major.
Andalucía – the region that occupies the south of Spain; made up of eight provinces. Flamenco is primarily an Andalucian phenomenon


Bailaor/a – male/female flamenco dancer
Bailarín/a – male/female Spanish classical dancer
Baile – dance
Braceo – the arm movements of a Spanish/flamenco dancer
Brazos – arms
Bulerías – song and dance form in 6/8 time, most difficult and improvisational of the flamenco styles


Cadenas – footwork combination in triplets, starting with the golpe of one foot followed by the heel of the opposite foot (which can be a martillo, tacon or talon), and returning to the starting foot using a talon
Café Cantante – coffee house with flamenco shows (originally starting with flamenco cante but eventually covering all flamenco forms). The ‘golden age’ of the Café Cantante was in the late 1800s.
Cajon – percussive instrument similar to an empty wooden box
Caló – language of the Spanish Gypsies
Cambio – change – refers to a change in footwork or braceo exercises; can also refer to a change in a musical melodic pattern
Cantaor/a – flamenco singer
Cante – song – song form
Cante Chico – song – song form – light style of flamenco song
Cante Jondo – song – song form – deep and solemn style of flamenco song
Cantiñas – the family of songs to which the alegrias belong: also includes romeras, mirabras, caracoles, and modern inventions “por alegrias”
Careo – meeting face to face. Although this step is used in other Spanish dances, it is traditionally performed four times at the end of fourth copla of Sevillanas
Castañuelas – castanets
Ceasé – also spelled seasé, similar to a balletic glissade changée – used in the first section of the second copla of Sevillanas
Cejilla – capo on a guitar
Colombianas – flamenco style believed to have been influenced by South American rhythms
Compás – 1. metre, the rhythmic feel of a song or dance form 2. time-signature. 3. tempo 4. rhythm 5. to be in sympathy with what is happening with the other members of a group.
Contra-tiempo – 1. counter-rhythm, 2. in music, the eighth note. 3. the up-beat.
Copla – 1. couplét 2. the set melodic pattern of a song. 3. verse
Cuadro Flamenco – a unit of flamenco singers, dancers and guitarists


Desplante – 1. portion of a dance and the accompanying music marking the end of a phrase with heel-work, 2. display.
Duende – soul or spirit


Escobilla – 1. a dance step which resembles the sweeping motion of a broom, 2. a long section of footwork


Falda – skirt
Falseta – a melodic variation on the flamenco guitar
Fandango – a popular song and dance form related to Sevillanas. Spanish folk dance of Andalucia, 3/4 time
Farruca – flamenco dance form in 4/4 time ­ from Galicia
Floreo – hand movements of dancers
Fuerte – strong, hard


Garrotín – a Gypsy song and dance in 4/4 time with a major tonality
Gitano/a -Gypsy
Glissade – glide
Glissade-changée – glissade, changing; in this glissade the feet alternate each time in the fifth position; that is, if R foot is in back in the fifth position and the glissade is done to the right, the R foot will finish in the fifth position front, and vice versa
Golpe – 1. related to footwork ­ full sole of the foot striking the floor. 2. Rhythmic accentuation (guitar)
Guajiras – flamenco-influenced song from Cuba ­ danced in 6/8, 12/8 time


Jaleo – shouts of encouragement, olé! being the most common
Juerga – a flamenco jam session or private party


Letra – the lyrics of a song/verse
Llamada – a dance step to advise the guitarist of a change in a dancer’s variation. From the Spanish v. Llamar to call.


Malagueñas – a free-form flamenco style (no specific compás, interpretive, and not danced) from Malaga. Descendent of the Fandango family.
Manton – embroidered silk shawl with long fringes. First known as ‘Manton de Manila’ from its origins in Manila.
Marcaje – to mark time
Marcando – movements of the dancer during the letra
Marqueo – to mark time
Martillo – hammer – to strike the floor with the heel or toe of the shoe and quickly pick it up
Martinete – toná sung by the gypsies in a forge; refers to hammer
Melisma – tone-gliding


Palmas – rhythmic hand clapping. Sordas = muted. Claras, abiertas, altas = clear, open, high.
Palillos – castanets, not used in pure flamenco
Palmeros – men that clap while the musicians play
Pas de Bourrée – bourée step, sometimes referred to as grapevine – used in the second section of the first copla of Sevillanas
Pasada – to pass ­ passing a partner in a dance
Pasada de pecho – passing chest to chest
Pasada de espalda – passing back to back
Paseo – promenade, a dance step resembling walking; also the opening walk or entrance of bullfighters into the arena
Payo – Spaniard, non-Gypsy
Piano – quiet, soft
Picado – in flamenco dance – refers to the ball and heel as one picado
Pié -foot
Pitos -finger snapping
Planta -ball of foot (plantar)
Polo -flamenco song derived from the Soleares family
Punta -toe of shoe
Punteado – plucking technique


Quejío – vocal style portraying a lament or cry


Rasgueado – strumming techniques on the guitar. From the Spanish v. Rascar to scratch
Redoble – to redouble a step or combination
Remate – the end of a phrase ­ from the Spanish (v) to finish something (rematar).
Roma – Romany Gypsy roots
Rond de Jambe – round of the leg, that is, a circular movement of the leg
Rumba – song, dance and guitar style in 4/4 time – originated in Cuba


Salida – an introductory portion of a song or dance – in song also referred to as temple or entrada.
Sephardim – the Spanish and Portuguese Jews or their descendants
Sevillanas – a lively and cheerful song and dance form in 3/4 time; from Sevilla, derived from the seguidillas manchegas.
Siguiriyas/ Seguidillas – profound cante jondo
Sincopado – syncopated, referring to the 16th note in music
Soleares – A form of cante jondo, from the word soledad solitude, privacy. It expresses deep sadness and loneliness, danced in 12/8 time.


Tablao – a stage or café where flamenco is performed (cabaret).
Tacón – heel of shoe
Taconeo – footwork
Talón – heel of foot
Tangos – flamenco song and dance in 2/4 and 4/4 time
Tanguillo – flamenco song and dance derived from the tango
Tarantas – free-form vocal style
Tarantos – related to the Tarantas in key, this form is danced, in 2/4 time
Temple – vocalization, warm-up
Tercio – a phrase of cante. Literally means thirds
Tientos – a slow form of tangos, done in 2/4, 4/4 time
Tocaor – flamenco guitarist
Tonás – The earliest-known of song forms
Toque – guitar playing
Toque a compás – guitar playing with fixed patterns of rhythmic beats
Toque libre – guitar playing with free form rhythm
Tremolo – a rapid fluttering of a guitar tone or alternating tones


Vuelta – turn
Vuelta por delante – turn to the front
Vuelta por detras – turn to the back or behind


Zambra – Moorish-influenced dance from the Sacromonte in Granada
Zapateado – footwork, also the name of a dance
Zapatos – shoes
Zarzuela – Spanish light opera