Three of the first four songs on Rosalía’s 2018 album “El Mal Querer” are using the Bulerias rhythm. Has that ever happened on a pop record? This entry claims that Bulerias originated among the Calé Romani people of Jerez during the 19th century. but any Arab musician will tell you that it is an Arabic rhythm and that its Spanish roots would come from Al-Andalus. The rhythm is a 12 beat cycle, the first half of which is two bars of 3 while the second half consists of three bars of two. 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 12.
The Romani traditionally count the rhythm by starting with the accented 12, which some say has to do with the clock. The day starts at 12 and ends at 12…
Here are two of the most common forms – accented beats in square brackets:
 1 2  4 5  7  9  11
 1 2  4 5 6   9  11
When I first learned this rhythm, in 1986 or ’87, I could not feel it. I programmed a drum machine with the rhythm and played that softly while I was sleeping. After a few days of nightly listening I was able to feel the rhythm and started playing it on the guitar.
Back to Rosalía:
On De Aquí No Sales a rhythm is created from engine sounds and her own voice is at times sampled and looped. Que No Salga La Luna is two looped guitar chords around which the entire song is built. Pienso En Tu Mirá has deep EDM bass sounds.
The new album “Motomami” has a track called Bulerias. It is made to sound like a live party, except for a brief use of Auto-Tuning on her voice.
I hope that at some point Rosalía will decide to record a song with a Flamenco guitarist who has experience accompanying a singer. Then she could cut up the result of that collaboration and sprinkle it with other sounds and contrasting elements.
Speaking of contrast, besides Rosalía’s work with Bulerias, I enjoy the collage effects utilized in some of her pieces… check out the jazz break on Saoko, which starts 1’27” into the song. Everything falls away and leaves Jazz piano, a cajon, and her voice. The break is only 10 seconds long, but it makes the pieces, I find. And then there are her takes on good old-fashioned latin ballads, which I always have a soft spot for. There is Delirio de Grandeza, with a nice rap through a phone break at 1’41”, and a duet with The Weeknd, La Fama, which also has nice breakdown at 1’21”, using a heavily flanged bass played with a pick (that’s what I am hearing anyway).
I walk away from listening to these albums with an idea of creating a break in a piece of slow guitar music, a pause that consists of the sound of a soft plastic wrapping being ripped open, or an object sliding on a sheet of paper. I can hear it in my mind. It could be perfectly poetic. I love the idea of creating an album of music that is all acoustic, but combines and contrasts very different sounds that don’t originate from musical instruments.