Rumba Strumming


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Rumba Strumming is a very useful tool for performing flamenco music.

This video will take you through the Rumba technique as used by Paco De Lucia and Gipsy Kings (and many others).

The chord progression we are using is Am – G -F – E .

We start with a thumb down and play a ‘golpe’ at the same time. The golpe is done by tapping down firmly on the top of the guitar. If you are playing a flamenco guitar you will be tapping a tapping plate or scratch plate which is a protective piece of plastic which is glued on to the guitar.

The thumb and the index finger move towards the palm in opposite directions. The main power coming from the last joint.

This is followed by an flick upwards by the ‘i’ finger and then immediately back down.

So far were have three quaver beats. p – i – i .

The fourth quaver beat is with the thumb flicking up. This up flick with the thumb is very common in flamenco guitar. It creates an accented type sound with a crisp attack.

Now we have p – i – i – p

The third beat will now have a downward slap with the palm of the hand towards the sound hole “x”

p – i – i – p – x

The final three quaver beats will be with ‘i’ up down up.

p – i – i – p – x – i – i – i

The accents are on the thumb strums the second last i , shown with bold:

p – i – i – p – x – i – i – i

The Rumba strumming is characterized by the rhythm 3 – 3 – 2.

That is 3 quavers 3 quavers 2 quavers. Often the bass guitar will play this rhythm meanwhile the guitar and cajon may play also the internal quavers to fill in the sound.

In recent times this rhythm has also become popular in pop  music because is sounds a bit Latin and edgy. For example Shape of You by Ed Sheeran uses the Rumba rhythm and many of Sia’s songs.

I should add that the Rumba is one of the lightest flamenco forms, and is considered not very serious,. There are many other forms like the Bulerias, Soleares, Allegrias and many more that have more complicated counting systems, mainly based on 12 beats. More on this in later posts.

If you are interested in learning more Rumbas and Flamenco forms you can try one of the lesson plans here.