The bulería has not always been a flamenco palo (form) well regarded for its party character, but with Paco de Lucía’s Entre dos aguas, it took on a brutal relevance.

Bulerías appeared towards the end of the 19th century, and its founding nucleus was in Jerez de la Frontera, in the province of Cádiz, more specifically, in the district of Santiago. Some flamencologists, such as Juan Vergillos, point to the singer El Loco Mateo as the “inventor” of the bulería from the soleá; Luis López Ruiz, flamencologist, assures that the gypsies of Jerez “are its supreme bearers”. It is no coincidence that the Fiesta de la Bulería has been celebrated in Jerez for more than 50 years.

More information: other places related to the birth of the bulería are Utrera and Cádiz, and the first recorded bulería is said to be that of Pastora Pavón in 1910.

This relationship between the soleá and the bulería has given and will give rise to a great deal of study and debate, but what seems very clear is that the bulería appeared in a festive and lively environment. Moreover, bulerías were called chuflas or cantes por fiesta and were not considered a flamenco style, or at least not so deeply rooted in flamenco. La Niña de los Peines o Manuel Vallejo, Camarón y Paco de Lucía, They turned bulería into one of the most famous and recognizable palos.

The most widely accepted theory is that bulerías come from the soleá, from which it has inherited its twelve-beat compás, but with a faster and lighter rhythm.

The bulería rhythm

The most notable characteristic of the compás por bulerías is its twelve-beat structure (4 ternary measures), one of the most complicated. Another characteristic of this palo is that it admits metrical and musical improvisations of all kinds, a diversity that is necessary to provoke its cheerful, fun and spontaneous character, although, in general, the copla is in three or four octosyllabic verses.

At first, it was played in 3/4 or 3/8 time because of its light speed, as is evident in older recordings. His accompaniment is, almost in a perfect marriage, the guitar.

Due to the flexibility of this cante, when dancing bulerías festeras, it is recommended that the palma be performed in six beats.

The bulería has one of the most variable styles and is in continuous evolution. For example, you can find some bulerías performed in a minor key, called “cuplés por bulerías”, which are usually adaptations of popular songs to this rhythm.

The bulerías artists

Generally, the figure of the cantaor por bulerías has always been of gypsy ethnicity, but there is an exceptional case, such as Manuel Vallejo, a master of bulería, who could be included in the group made up of the great bulería performers such as Niño Gloria, La Pompi, Pastora Pavón, Tomás Pavón, María La Moreno…,or more recent artists such as Fernando Terremoto, El Borrico, La Paquera, Sernita, La Perla de Cádiz or Pericón.

One style, many styles

This “festive” character and origin allows the bulería to develop in one direction or another without much complexity. For many experts, an aspect that makes them really interesting. Paco de Lucía thought so and worked a lot on this style. His recordings of the 1970s are legendary in this respect.

Bulería is one style and many at the same time. There are the more “serious” soleá (we have already mentioned that this seems to be its root prigen); those of Cádiz, related to the cantiñas; those of Extremadura, in the style of the jaleos; those of Triana, of which Pastora Pavón (La Niña de los Peines) is the queen; or those of Lebrija, Morón and Utrera, whose style is slower and more serious.

All about bulería and how to play it in this intensive course

If you want to delve into the art of bulería with the experts of Camerata Flamenco Project, researching figures such as Paco de Lucía or Moraíto Chico, this is your course at ALL FLAMENCO. And you will discover the history, anecdotes and a detailed explanation of the famous “compás por bulerías”, one of flamenco’s most precious treasures.