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About Bulrias

Buleras is one of flamenco's most flexible forms: constantly changing, spontaneous,

humorous, equally at home on a concert stage or at a private juerga. It's the Rock'n
Roll of flamenco - fast, rhythmic party music laced with social commentary that
mocks the rich as it entertains them.
Cantes por buleras began with Jerezano singer Loco Mateo (c. 1832-1890), who
would conclude his specialty, the soleares, with a remate(ending) por buleras.
Buleras is closely associated with the City of Jerez de la Frontera, specifically Barrio
San Miguel, the home of many of flamenco's most influential artists, including Loco
Mateo, Agujetas, and Don Antonio Chacn.
Rooted in the soleares, the buleras also has aspects of older flamenco forms
including jaleos and bamberas. The word 'buleras" comes from the word "burlar,"
meaning to mock, outwit, or escape danger.
Reflecting its origin as a remate to the soleares, the underlying form of buleras is
simple. Buleras cantes consist of three or four eight-syllable lines, and there is
great flexibility in the way artists choose to treat those three or four lines. The
singer may give one or two compses to each line, or they can stretch them out,
decorating each syllable with melismatic flourishes, or repeating them for rhythmic
or emotional effect.
The guitarist follows the singer's phrasing, underscoring the implied harmony,
adding falsetas and maintaining the rhythmic pulse. Performing without a singer, a
guitarist will string together a series of falsetas in a way that may imitate the form
of letras.
A dancer will usually dance while the letra is being sung, and also dance between
letras. A dancer can also dance during short breaks within the letras (a respira for
the singer; a remate for the dancer). A dancer will use transitional phrases,
including palmas en contra tiempo, remates and llamadas, and desplante llamadas
to move from one section of the dance to another, cueing the musicians at each
There are distinctive differences in dance styles for the buleras depending on where
and when the dance is performed. If it is a professional performance at a concert or
theatrical show, the dancer will include 1 to 2 letras, add an escobilla, and perform
an ornate traveling exit, the salida (also often called the cierre). If the dancer is
performing buleras at a flamenco party (juerga), small event, or with family and
friends, the dance takes on a more personal touch that may or may not include all
of the above name sections. See For Dancers below for a more detailed description
of each section of the dance.
Buleras has a 12-count comps with accents on 12, 3, 6 (or 7), 8, and 10. To get the
feel of this, try this exercise that we do with our students, clapping out comps
patterns with alternating accents on 6 and 7.
12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
There's no hard and fast rule about when to accent beat 6 or 7 in a given buleras.
Listen to the samples, and any other buleras you can get your hands on, and you'll
hear that there are musical reasons for accenting one or the other at any given
In some traditional versions of buleras, and particularly in Spain in Gypsy circles,
the 12 beats are counted as two sets of 6 counts, the accents falling on counts 12
and 6. These accents can be held in silence or stamped.
12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
As you can hear in the above sample, the accents are expressed not by hitting the
beats harder, but by hitting them differently, something you'll find throughout

Various palmas patterns for Buleras include:

The palmista and/or dancer stamps out this pattern with their foot:

12 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 +

This is a traditional palmas pattern from Andaluca:

12 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 +

In this pattern, the palmista/dancer claps out the contra tiempo, the ands between the
beats, while stamping out the beats with her foot.

12 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 +

For Dancers

In traditional cuadro flamenco and theatrical performances, buleras is presented with each
dancer performing a short variation and returning back into the cuadro flamenco formation
as another dancer enters the performance area. Dancers often try to "out-dance" one
another, dance teasingly about each other, spoof the audience, or dance one's mind.
Intricate combinations of palmas and jaleo (shouts of encouragement, including "Ol") are
provided by the other performers, and often by knowledgeable aficionados.

Though open to much variation and interpretation, the generally accepted skeletal
framework for the dance includes:

Entrada/Salida The dancer enters while the guitarist plays. The

dancer can also enter during a song.
Llamada A movement cue to the guitarist and singer that the
dancer is about to perform a new letra.
Letras The singer sings a letra while the dancer dances. A
dancer can insert a remate (flashy punch of
percussion and movement) between the 1st and
2nd lines of the song, while the singer pauses for 12
counts (respira).
Desplante llamada A one- or two-comps footwork and movement
Dance variation/s A number of things can occur at this point:

Choreography - the primary dance variation,

often including codified movement patterns
of counter- clockwise circles and diagonal
patterns traveling across the floor. Many of
these patterns are traditional, and have been
passed down from artist to artist for

Contra tiempo palmas.

A second llamada leading to a second letra.

An escobilla - long sets of footwork


Closing desplante llamada The final cue for an exit

Salida/Cierre A closing dance pattern, generally moving across
stage. Often also called the cierre.
For Guitarists
As an accompanist, the guitarist's job is to respond to the cues from the singer and
dancer. When the singer is singing, the harmony follows the singer.
With practice, you'll be able to hear the chord changes implied in the way singers
emphasize chord tones in the melody.

Meanwhile, practice these one- and two-comps patterns to get the feel of buleras.
Compare these to the patterns for Alegras.
1) Chord changes on 3 and 10 as in the llamada
A Bb A
12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1011
2) Chord changes on 12 and 6, common in letras
b 7
1 123456 7891 1 1 123456 7891 1
2 0 1 2 0 1
E C F Bb A E
7 b
1 1234567891 1 1 123 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 11
2 0 1 2 0

In creating a solo buleras, guitarists string together rhythmic patterns and pre-
composed or improvised falsetas.
Sample Cante
This is a sample of a traditional buleris letra in the Jerez style.

Ay! Mira que Gitano(a) soy Look, how Gypsy I am!

Mira que Gitano(a) soy Look, how Gypsy I am!
Que la camisa que tengo I take the shirt off my back
Me la quito y te la doy. and give it to you.

Here is an example of a valiente. The final letra the cantaora sings and a
release of the dramatic tension built up through the piece.

Ay! Esta noche mando yo Tonight Im in charge

Maana mande quien quiera. Tomorrow whoever wants to can be in
Ay! esta noche vi a pone charge
por la esquina bandera. Tonight Im going to place a flag on
Ay! por la esquina bandera. the corner