Farruca (1 of 4) by Jose Luis (SB Sessions)

Farruca no. 1

Here is a great example of how to elevate a traditional form such as Farruca. Farruca is a very traditional form that mainly stays close to its parent key of A natural minor with a few scales/chords borrowed from A harmonic minor. There are quite a few twists in the harmony using modal devices and substitutions. Let’s take a look in depth:

Measure 1-3: This is pretty straight forward playing with the exception of the E7(#5) in measure 2. The #5 augmented E7 is a fairly common altered chord that you find in modern Flamenco. In measure 3 you get the first glimpse of how Jose goes effortlessly from arpeggio into picado. Note how he begins with a slur on the first couple of notes just out of the arpeggio back to straight picado.

Measure 4-7: There are many 32nd notes in some of these phrases which shows just how many subdivisions an advanced guitarist can put into one beat if he chooses to. Notice how measure 4 repeats but with a different ending in measure 6 when Jose plays a G7 rather than the D minor. Measure 7 has an interesting chord which is out of the ordinary A harmonic minor universe of Farruca. On beat 3 he plays an E minor chord coming from the C which shows the natural phrygian relationship to the relative major key of C major. Not only does it point to C major but rather outlines the ii-V7-i progression going into the next measure. (Emin – A7 – Dmin).

Measure 8-10: Here we see the ii-V7 of D minor (i) resolve and continue progressing to a G7 on beat three. In measure 9 we get a surprise chord that bends your ear a little. The E minor 7th chord is generally found as the ii in the key of D major followed here by the A7 (#5) on beat three. The harmonic twist is that he doesn’t resolve to a D major, he resolves to the D minor in measure 10. So it could be argued that this E minor 7th chord was a borrowed ii chord from D melodic minor. However you think of it, it is still a cool little chord alteration.

Measure 10-11: This measure begins with the resolution to D minor. On beat 3 we see an interesting poly chord that is fairly common in Flamenco. The F(#11) which is synonymous with a D minor 6th is used to then tonicize the E(b9) phrygian chord in measure 11. On beat 4 we see a F diminished arpeggio which will lead us to the next measure.

Measure 12-13: The F diminished arpeggio leads us right into a very interesting choice of harmony. The chord is an E7(b9)/Bb. It may look like some sort of Bb chord initially but when you see that it heads directly to an A minor chord you then know what the function is. Remember that a Bb7 chord and an E7 chord are only different in one note the Bb. This lays heavily on the whole b5 substitution thing that Jose does without really knowing it!

Measure 14: Here we see the Bb chord gaining more harmonic weight to the point where it almost sounds like the IV chord of F major with the ii chord being A minor. There are many modal ways of thinking about this. But as with every chord, it has to go somewhere, so before we speculate any further let us take a look at the next measure.

Measure 15: Resolution from Bb to A minor. At the end of the measure Jose plays B half diminished (ii chord in A minor) which tells us that we are definitely going back to A minor. Beats 3-4 are both the E7(#5) which is the dominant of our A harmonic minor.

Measure 16: The key of A natural minor is represented as the home tonic key here with the (F natural) minor 6th note being added towards the end of the measure.

Measure 18: Back to the V7 chord. On beat 3 he plays E7/F# and then on beat 4 he plays E7/G# and then plays a quick A melodic minor lick in the bass which shows us that he’s thinking modally throughout.

Link to Jose’s music for download: https://www.joseluisdelapaz.com/discography

Recorded in Santa Barbara, CA by Berto Boyd for more info visit: https://bertoboyd.com/