The Secret To Flamenco Guitar Chords
First of all, make sure that you already know and have practiced the most important chords to learn first. You can find my list of them here.
A video on flamenco guitar chords
Just knowing those chords alone will enable you start putting together some strongly favored flamenco progressions such as Am - Dm - E7 - Am. Even when you take such a simple progression it only takes a little technique with the right hand to make them come alive. It's tons of fun when it 'hits your ears' especially if you are a beginner!
Another popular progression would be Em - Am - Em - B7. This is very similar to the first example except that its tonal center is in a different key.
The Dominant V Chord
Of particular importance is the dominant V chord in the key. What happens here is flamenco music cadences onto the V chord extensively but rather than letting the cadence chord be a place of rest, dissonance is deliberately introduced so that the chords internal harmony is in disarray. You feel the fire and the tension of the music at these important moments and it's a classic example of how chords can be used to create theater in music.
The Famous V7 b9 Chord
Probably the most classic flamenco guitar chord of all is the V7b9, for example E7b9.
In this example the notes of the chord would be E, G#, B, D, F. So you can see that we have the basic E major triad in (E, G#, B) then the dominant 7 note gets added (D) before finally the real 'chilli' of the flat 9 note (F).
When you examine chords in this way you can clearly see that the chord has a central place of rest in its major triad however this is being severely disrupted to a small extent with the dominant 7 note and then to a wild degree with the inclusion of a flat 9 note.
A Classic Example Of A Flamenco Cadence
If you were in the key of Am you could have the following chord progression
Am - G7 - F - E7b9
This is a classic flamenco chord cadence and of particular interest is the final V7b9 chord.
In most styles of western music this is a safe resting place where the music is at rest however in flamenco the internal harmony of the chord is given a lot of energy (dissonance) which means the music is never allowed to find its place of peace. When you study flamenco from this harmonic perspective it can become a fascinating look into the mechanical aspects of the music. Kind of like examining the machinery at work behind the magic of the music itself.