Bolero by Arcas


The Bolero is a popular Spanish dance of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. It originated from the folk dance the Seguidilla from Madrid and Andalusia. One of the palos (styles) of flamenco is derived directly from the dance, the Seguidillas Boleras.

This piece moves from a dance feel to a more melodic feel, relating somewhat to a group performance where the dancer would dance and then the singer would sing, or the guitarist would play accompanying interludes in between the singing. Taking this approach will help you in managing the technical challenges and also create appropriate phrasing.

This piece will be a challenge for intermediate players in parts but the lively Spanish dance feel is really attractive and fun and worth the effort. Arcas was a teacher and friend of Tarrega. His music is quite important in the Classsical and Spanish guitar repertoire.

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  • Dominic Swords

    Hi Another beauty. I must say it’s hard to not try and play every new post as soon as it appears and end up playing no single song in its entirety: which is usually up to the point where there’s a difficult bit to play!!! I have def started to build a foundation of songs in both Latin and Latin Jazz pieces: since joining I have learned what I would see as the ‘basic’ must know Latin Jazz songs (Corcavado was the first then One Note, Besame Mucho and Desfinado part 1) to get a feel for that style. I already had played Black Orpheus. In the Latin section have been learning Retrato Brasailera, Danza Brasilera and will get to that Bolero by Arcas at some point. It’s been brilliant and I’ll def extend my initial 3 month sub. In a short period I have found myself playing songs I had heard, liked and admired but never knew to play. In learning songs it seems to me you get to understand the patterns, rhythms and feel for the genre. Meanwhile two pieces I have found in listening to various Latin guitarists are Jobim’s Chega de Saudade and Powell’s Saudades de Marcia (I obvs like the blues!!!!). I can see the basic latin progressions in both of them, but it seems to me it’s a fair way to go from One Note Samba to these two. How long do you think you would expect a newbie to Latin to get to these two? Would you think of them as suitable lessons sometime??

    • Sergio

      Yes they are both on my list for pieces I’m going to cover!

  • Dominic Swords

    On reflection, that ‘how long …’ is a question like a piece of string. Maybe it’s more about the journey and how to plan my learning from what I can do now and how well I do it to becoming proficient in playing these kind of pieces. Your thoughts would be really helpful.

    • Sergio

      This is an interesting question and something that is a challenge to convey over the lesson material. Perhaps I need to do some more posts on the learning process itself and the path towards mastery which is infinite really.

  • Dominic Swords

    A great point. We are in an infinite game, tho there are probably many finite games within it. And there’s a level of unpredictability in it all. You might start off thinking your goal is to ‘master’ Latin guitar, but what happens when you come across something that inspires and you find that Latin was an influence to which you add that new inspiration. And you find the guitarist inside that is trying to express himself/herself in developing your thing. I see and hear lots of musical experts judging others in terms of what level they are, what’s the tiny error in their playing, do they hold the guitar ‘right’ etc etc. But there’s a lot more variation in what is ‘right’ imo than one particular view. Sure there’s good and bad technique, but it is a lot more than that. We all start as beginners and the rest is just a fun journey of discovery!!!

    • Sergio

      That’s an inspired attitude, it’s great to focus on your own path, and feedback is quite important but like you said expression and just enjoying it will keep you going. I have been playing for over 40 year snow and I have to say the thing that has kept me most inspired is teaching and also performing.

  • Dominic Swords

    Inspired? I’ll take that. Thanks. My 50 years of folk club open mics then playing for and then with our children have kept me going. Then finding generous guitarists like you on YouTube. 👍 it’s what we need in this world.