Pure flamenco, the seguiriyas
Continuing with the line of other articles, we are going to tell you all the secrets of one of the oldest styles of flamenco: the seguiriyas.
Also called seguirilla, siguiriya or siguerilla, it is one of the most jondo songs, with a marked dramatic character. In fact, they are based on the maxim of little sung lyrics and a lot of whining. Hence, one way to know if you are listening to a seguiriya is the attainment of “ayes” (ay, ay, ay).
Together with tientos, tonás and soleares, seguiriyas are considered the basis of many current cantes and dances, that is to say, they are the axis of the purest flamenco.
Origin of the flamenco seguiriyas
Although the origin of singing is uncertain, it is believed to derive from the plañideras, women who were hired in the 19th century to sing at wake. Since it was a song of mourning, the theme of death was recurrent and the main source of inspiration in the lyrics of the seguiriyas.
This widespread belief could not be confirmed by flamenco scholars, in fact, the composer Manuel de Falla, in his studio El Cante Jondo, states that `siguiriya´ drinks from the primitive tonal modes of Byzantine singing, sung in the liturgies.
What we do know for sure is that the metric of the seguiriya is the sum of two types of compasses, three by four and six by eight.
Nowadays, flamenco guitar accompanies flamenco singing, despite the fact that its origin, as well as the tonás and primitive singings, were the so-called `palos secos´, that is to say, without accompaniment.
The oldest copla of seguiriya is the one known as `seguiriya of The Planeta´, and it says so:
“A la luna le pío,
la del alto cielo,
como le pío que me saque a mi pare
de onde está metío”.
Today there are numerous variants of the seguiriyas, including the serranas and the livianas, whose compás they share.
To give you an idea of what a seguiriya is like, you can look at the saetas, the well-known typical songs of Holy Week in Andalusia and which are very special moments in which the singer expresses his feelings in a sung form, in this case, towards the figure of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary.
“Ay, ay, ay.” The “ayes” is a way of knowing if you are before a seguiriya.
As for dance, it was incorporated much later, already in the 20th century. It was Vicente Escudero in 1940 who included it for the first time in the flamenco singing, following the solemnity of the same. The exit stands out, which consists of a long walk combined with dotted and desplantes. Later, the flamenco dancer Pilar López made a version with “palillos“.
The seguiriyas dance is structurally composed of four hexasyllabic verses, except for the third, which is hendecasyllabic (6-6-11-6). The rhyme may vary according to the singer, as feeling prevails over the norm.
This syllabic model is directly related to the jarchas, ancient poetic compositions that closed the poems in Arabic called moaxajas. The seguiriyas are one of the most difficult flamenco palos to dance and this is due to the numerous variants that exist within their basic form.
Some of them are associated to a particular singer, who endows his quejío and duende to the way of interpreting it. We have, for example, the seguiriyas del Planeta, simple and solemn; those of Frasco El Colorao in Triana, with a lot of ornamentation; those of Manuel Molina and Antonio Chacón, in Jerez de la Frontera, etc.
See online videos of pure flamenco
As you can see, the flamenco songs and dances are part of the living culture of Andalusia as they evolve over time, while retaining their purity.
At Cuna del Flamenco we give you the opportunity to enjoy flamenco singing and seguiriyas from any corner of the world, thanks to our online flamenco shows, in which El Palacio Andaluz has collaborated.
Dance, singing and guitar are intertwined in a journey through the origins of flamenco in our flamenco online video ‘Raíces Flamencas’, recorded in an authentic Andalusian flamenco tablao. Don’t miss it!