Within the enormous diversity of Flamenco
music from southern
are considered by the purist
, to be the most profound
The siguiriyas are always about the release of pent-up
emotion: hate, love, jealousy, persecution, and--more often than not--the
inevitable marauding nature of Death that will not be denied.
It is unlikely that the casual observer of this insular art can experience
the essence of siguiriyas in a commercial setting. A bar in Madrid
or Seville--or worse, New York or Los Angeles--isn't the place.
The tradition is too long. The emotion is too deep. The artist must channel
too much pain.
Likewise, a listener unfamiliar with Spanish will find the going difficult.
The inflection cannot be translated. The experience is racial and geo-historical.
It's a gypsy thing.
That being said, however, we may discuss approximating this
fleeting glimpse of the world's hopelessness and cruelty. The purpose
of course, would be to experience catharsis, to release
the demon within us. Recordings of the greatest singers por siguiriyas
will still thrill us deeply if we're attentive.
with the compas, the rhythm, is important. It is the rhythm that
gets under your skin. The beat within siguiriyas is the very
soul of grief. It can bring the listener to tears without a single word
Flamenco is all about rhythm. Palmas, the pulsating clapping with
are familiar, are considered to be an instrument unto themselves.
The siguiriyas compas is a somewhat subtle transmutation of
the compas of soleares, the form known as la madre
de flamenco, the mother of flamenco. Soleares are
counted--slowly, like a resting heartbeat--thus:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
10 11 12
accenting (or clapping on) the bold numbers 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12.
Tying this rhythmic sequence together over and over again gives
us soleares compas. You may clap or dance along with any
recorded soleares and be a compas, in rhythm.
This is very important. Once you get the rhythm right, flamenco is like
jazz--everybody knows where the thing is headed and you can
take off anywhere as the spirit moves you and get back together at the end.
Siguiriyas have the same compas with a subtle but
extremely important twist: the beat is twice as fast and
it starts on 8.
8 9 10 11
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
and repeat--a perfect compas a siguiriyas
It's the little "hitch" that comes in the middle, before and after the 3 that does the damage.
Listen to a singer like Agujetas de Jerez, Camerón de la Isla, or el Chocolate
and try not to cry.
Here's a sample lyric. Note the third line is longer because of
No quiero que se entere
I don't want her to know,
quien solo era mia
she who was only mine,
que en mis profundos suspiro por ella
that in my profound sighs for her
se me va la via...
my life is wafting away...
I longed to live
por verte y oirte;
to see you and hear you;
ahora que no te veo ni te oigo,
now that you're not here,
I prefer to die.
The lyrics--lettres--of flamenco songs are both ancient as the
Andalusian gypsies' trek from India and fresh
as this Valentine's Day. Like so much in life however, repetition of the
familiar can touch us the most deeply.
Many of Federico Garcia Lorca's poems have been given flamenco
interpretations. The effect is mesmerizing.