Someone recently pointed out to me that 2015 was the 20th anniversary of the first Air Guitar World Championships. And it is true, I have discovered, that this year thousands will gather in Finland to contest and watch this year’s event. Having just returned from a flamenco festival it occurred to me that there might, however unlikely, be some read across. Not to be outdone therefore by those officianados of non-music, the air guitarists of the rock world, here is my list of pseudo instructions should anyone wish to emulate them in flamenco. Please note, the would-be air guitarist is assumed to be male, mainly because, if you look at the Air Guitar World Championship web-site and videos, it seems that this is the gender of most air guitarists.
First, choose your seating. Unlike his rock contemporary, the flamenco air guitarist sits, rather than stands. Not for him the bracing of legs apart, the better for invisible instrument thrashing or, if the rock air guitarist has a 1980s bent and a desire to demonstrate a startling grasp of rhythm, striding forward and back in time to the beat. Rather the subtle, ankle across knee approach, better to balance and caress the strings of his invisible guitar. This also allows the showing off of highly polished, black patent leather boots ( if the flamenco air guitarist possesses any ).
Second, clothing. Black, dark colours or black with a startlingly white shirt, are de rigeur. Spangles and denim give entirely the wrong impression and hair, while permitted to be longish and tousled ( and preferably black ) should on no account be beyond shoulder length ( or if it is, should be tied back in a fashionable pony tail or top knot and worn with a close cut beard ). There is to be no frenetic tossing of the head and hair in quasi drug induced manner, but the occasional shake of the head with suppressed, volcanic emotion is permitted.
Third, facial expression. The flamenco air guitarist should cultivate an expression of sublime serenity, often with eyes closed, punctuated by brief explosions of intense emotion ( eyes scrunched and mouth twisted, as if in pain). Given the lack of any actual music, the flamenco air guitarist might accompany these occasional outbursts with bending close over his invisible instrument, making a violent strumming motion with his right hand while manipulating the fingers of his left in imitation of the fine fingering of actual flamenco guitarists.
Finally, general demeanour. The flamenco air guitarist is courteous and controlled, elegant and artistic, but definitely manly. He does not grunt, shout, head bang or generally gain enjoyment by leaping up and down. He is a man of the people, but aloof and slightly separated by his art, which, in the absence of a world championship similar to that of his rock colleagues, is performed mainly alone or in small groups. Yet, unencumbered as he is by a physical instrument, he may travel widely to perform across the globe, though usually in hotels or friend’s apartments, with like-minded flamenco airistas.
Happy flamenco air guitar playing.
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