Flamenco Dictionary Terms: A - E

Flamenco Dictionary Terms: A - E

Terms:     A - E     F - J     L - P     R - Z



Aire – the atmosphere or ambience of a flamenco performance. 


Alboreá – is a flamenco style typically sung during Gypsy weddings, with rhythm and guitar similar to the soleá


Alegrías – originated in Cadiz with a beat similar to Soleares.  This is an up tempo style of flamenco with a lively rhythm for more energetic dancing and guitar playing. Following the meaning of the word “alegrías”, this is a joyful expression of flamenco.  However, the dance arrangement for alegrías can be the most rigid when following traditional forms, with several different structured sections.  Without the dance alegrías is more free form.


A palo seco – a form of singing accompanied by percussion only (generally handclapping, or palmas)



Bailaora / Bailaor – dancer (female) / dancer (male)


Baile – dance


Braceo – Arm movements of a flamenco dancer


Buleria –originated in Jerez from the flamenco styles alegrías and soleares.  This is the fastest and perhaps most difficult style of flamenco, including lively guitar playing and dancing with plenty of improvisation.  The upbeat tempo of Buleria has proven to be quite popular and the style is performed in many flamenco shows, often to close out the performance.



Café Cantante – The original forms of the tablao flamenco, these venues were popular places to see live flamenco shows in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These venues also enjoyed a brief resurgence in the middle of the 20th century.


Cajón – this percussion instrument traces its origins back to Peru in the 1800s, but didn’t enter the flamenco music scene until the early 1980’s.  Many remember thanks to guitarist Paco de Lucia, who introduced the cajón in one of his songs together with percussionist Ruben Dantas.  The cajón is played with the performer sitting atop the box, using their hands on the front of the box for rhythm and percussion.


Cantante – singer


Cantaor / Cantaora – Singer (male / female)


Cante – Singing, also used to describe the different styles of flamenco when used in context such as: cante chico, cante grande or jondo, and cante intermedio.


Cante chico – One of the three main stylistic families of flamenco, Cante chico has a lighter and more upbeat mood.  Themes are often of love and happiness.  Forms include bulerías, alegrías, and flamenco tangos.


Cantes libres – A free form of flamenco music in which melody plays an important part, while rhythm and metre seemingly do not apply.  In many cases these songs grew out of more traditional, rhythmic flamenco music, evolving into pure melodies.


Cante grande / Cante Jondo – One of the three main stylistic families of flamenco, Cante grande or cante jondo is darker in mood, with themes such as loss, anguish, despair, and death.  Forms include soleá, martinete, tonas, seguiriya, and carceleras.


Cante intermedio –One of the three main stylistic families of flamenco, Cante intermedio is a looser family of styles, which encompásses all of the forms which do not fall under cante chico or cante grande.  


Cantiñas – Cantiñas style of flamenco comes mainly from the province of Cadiz, while some forms of this style also originated in Seville.  With a similar upbeat tempo to Soleá, this form of singing was popularized with the rise of the cafes cantantes in the late 19th century into the early 20th century.  These cafe cantantes were the origins of the modern tablao.


Carceleras – form of flamenco song which originates from the jails in Andalucia, where the inmates would often sing about themes relevant to prison life.


Cartageneras – Cartageneras traces its origins to the Fandango style of flamenco.  The style developed from the typical songs of mine workers in the area around Cartagena in the eastern province of Murcia where Fandango was already popular. 


Castañetas / castañuelas – castanets, percussive instrument consisting of two wooden pieces held in one hand.  Used in traditional Spanish dance, the instrument has also at times been used in flamenco performances although castanets should not be considered as belonging to flamenco.


Colombianas – form of flamenco song which has roots in Colombian folk music. 


Compás – refers to the rhythmic pattern of a flamenco song.  Compás is similar to percussion; in flamenco this is often with hand clapping, the strumming or tapping of the guitar as well as the cajón.


Copla – can be used to describe a verse of song, also a style of music in Andalucia which is not related to flamenco, called copla andaluza.



Duende – guiding or inner spirit which drives a flamenco performer.   A spiritual connection between the performer and the song which, when at its best, is transmitted to the audience.



Ensayo – rehearsal


Entrada – start or beginning of song.  (Also used for ticket)


Escenario – stage