ISSN 2158-5296
AAWM JOURNAL VOL. 6 NO. 1 (2017)

Discovering Flamenco Metric Matrices through a Pulse-Level Analysis

Bernat Jiménez de Cisneros Puig

Recent flamencology has made significant strides in demonstrating the sophisticated and rigorous musical language of flamenco, which is based on its own particular grammar and syntax. However, the analysis of such language, regulated by codes and guidelines that are not usually made explicit, requires an insider’s knowledge. This article first presents the results of combining a pulse-level analysis according to the model developed by Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983) with explicit and implicit criteria from flamenco performers themselves. This mixed approach, systematically applied to each genre or palo, leads to a holistic classification of pulsed flamenco, arranged into five metric groups according to the presence of metrical tension. Then, in light of the metrical and syntactic homologies within these groups and between them, two metric matrices of flamenco are featured, both of which include hemiolic features that may support the idea of flamenco as being entirely Hispano-American. In offering a blended musical analysis as the guide to both the essential traits and the roots of flamenco (instead of overstating the relevance of non-musical items such as the name, the lyrics or the emotional character of each palo), this paper also aims to provide an alternative departure point in phylogenetic studies of flamenco.

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Contributor Information:
As an independent researcher, Bernat Jiménez de Cisneros Puig published in 2015 a musicological approach to flamenco musical meter, available free of charge at, and is currently working on a second volume devoted to flamenco hand-clapping within the PhD program in History of Art and Musicology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

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