Taranto (2 of 8) by Jose Luis (SB Sessions)

Taranto no.2 - (Difficulty level - 5)

This falseta is part of a magnificent composition that Jose Luis wrote during his job as musical director for the Ballet of Cristina Hoyos. Taranto is an amazing form and takes years of understanding and experience to be able to accompany the song and dance. This is the first in a series that will definitely blow your mind and make you appreciate this song from much more.

Let's take a look at what's happening technically, harmonically and compositionally:

Measure 1-2: This is an arrastre technique which uses a forward arpeggio followed by dragging the A finger back across all 6 strings. Pretty standard technique used in "Taranta", the toque libre counterpart of Taranto. Difficult to notate the exact rhythm of this so just start right after beat 2 and drag back until you hit the 6th string on beat 1.

Measure 3-4: Here Jose starts the melody very expressively here and takes some liberty with the rhythm although it is in perfect rhythm (his signature style).

Measure 5-6: A quick couple of pickup notes lead directly into a B minor 9th chord which then is mirrored with the same chord type down a major 3rd to G minor 9th. The G minor chord is not in the key of F# alt Phrygian but is a somewhat common alteration of the II chord to give a different melodic variation.

Measure 7-8: Following the G minor chord and melody is a D(#5) augmented chord which could be thought of as a borrowed V from B harmonic minor, or rather just an F#7(#5) with the #5 (D) in the bass. Remember a D chord and an F# chord are a major third apart and share the same function. So after this chord, Jose plays a quick E5 (minus the 3rd) and then back to an F#5 (minus the 3rd). All of this is really just serving as an F#7 resolving to B minor in the next measure. Also, at the end of measure 8 is a melody that uses a bit of chromaticism to add tension going into the B minor.

Measure 9-11: Here we see Jose setting up for a Spanish cadence progression (Bm, A, G, F#) but with a nice substitution for the A7 in measure 10. Here he uses a C#(b9) in place of the A(remember C# is up a 3rd from A and chords a 3rd away always share function). After the C#(b9) we have a G major 7 followed by a few F naturals which indicated that the G chord changed from a major 7th to a dominant 7th which is then followed by an E in the bass prompting us to hear another common change from the G to E min but really still a G7.

Measure 12-13: Here we see two quick stripped down chords which are a G7 (F natural the 7th and B the 3rd, minus the root and 5th), followed by an F#7(#5) which he then plays a nice double time 32nd note melody with slurs and hammer ons and then to octaves in the last section before recapitulating to the main theme (measures 14-19).

Measure 14-19: Here is an interesting twist that Jose throws in when restating the theme. Notice that now the theme starts on beat 1 rather than beat 2 from where he first played it. I have heard Jose many times play the same melody in other pieces a whole beat later in the rhythm but then still make it fit. These are the kind of permutations that show genius and innovation through variation. There is always a different way to play things in the world of Flamenco. Also, note the expression that he puts into the rhythm here when reinstating the theme. This is is most definitely a idea that came about being that this is written for one of the best dancers of all time - Cristina Hoyos.

Measure 20-22: After the previous G maj7 chord, here Jose walks the bass down chromatically to an E min7. Measure 21 he then sets up for a great picado which outlines the F# alt Phrygian scale with the F natural as an added chromatic note. The scale then ends on the F natural and then he plays a typical chord in Taranto the Emin7/F before bringing it back to the home F#(b9)add11.

Measure 24-27: Jose plays a G major 9 chord here (it is unclear if he is playing the 2nd or 3rd string open so I didn't include them, but you can if you like). In measure 26 we see a couple fun jazz chords thrown in to add tension before the resolution. The first one we will call a substitution for an A. (Amaj7(b5) From the bottom to top it is (A -root / Eb -b5 / Ab or rather G# - maj 7th / Db or rather C# - maj 3rd). The second chord following is the same substitution but for a F#. OR, you could think of how it would be a substitution for a G minor 7th (Gm/maj7(add11)) -(F# -maj 7th / C - 11th / F natural - min 7th / Bb - min 3rd). There are so many ways to use substitutions and these two chords are a perfect example of outside quartal jazz harmony.