Today’s letra is a bit different than usual. It’s not actually a song verse…
Watch the presentation of José Galán’s choreography for the 2018 Bienal de Sevilla flashmob, and read the phrases recited during the introduction. Next week I’ll publish part ofthe song along with a video from the actual flashmob.
While my obsession with flamenco began twenty years ago, I still often find myself flipping out, amazed, jaw dropped and thinking how flamenco is so *%&#@ing cool. Today a letra and a video to demonstrate my point.
This week's letra made me think of an experience I had years ago which has nothing to do with flamenco. It has to do with dishonesty and fear. It started with a question, which led to a lie, which in turn led to facing a fear. The facing fear part actually helped prepare me for flamenco where I'm forced to confront my fears over and over again. To my surprise, all of the practice meeting my fears in flamenco has only made it easier to do so in life outside of the dance.
More on that in a minute, but first let's take a look at the letra and watch a video of Mercedes Ruíz, our teacher on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez, dancing caña, all in red, with bata and mantón.
Subí a la alta montaña
buscando leña pa’ el fuego
como no la encontraba
al valle bajé de nuevo
Here's a caña letra for you followed by a video of Jesús Carmona (who is coming to Portland in the spring for a show and workshops) dancing.
Yo soy como un libro abierto
todo el mundo puede leerme
tú siempre me estás leyendo
pero no has llegado a comprenderme
Here's a caña followed by a video of Carmen Mora accompanied by Carmen Linares. (A couple of years ago we studied this dance with Mercedes Ruíz on the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. I can't wait to go back and learn more from her in a couple of weeks on the next tour!)
Aquél que tiene tres viñas
y el tiempo le quita dos,
que se conforme con una
y le dé gracias a Dios
Todo el mundo le pide a Dios
la salud y la libertad
y yo le pido la muerte
no me la quiere mandar
The whole world asks God
for health and freedom
And I ask for death
He doesn't want to send it to me
Sometimes you want to know a song to go along with the dance form you're studying in class. Other times you want to know the words to that particular flamenco song you like so much. And sometimes you long to know what those words mean.
I'd like to help you with that
Below you'll find a collection of letras (flamenco verses) organized by palo (flamenco form.)
After over four years of translating and posting flamenco songs, and not quite as many years of writing them out and turning them into things like this, there are quite a number of flamenco verses (and often accompanying videos) to be found around here.
I've learned a lot about Spanish, a bit about Caló, and much about flamenco through the process of doing these translations, very often getting help along the way. Some of the translations are better than others, and the letras rarely convey the same feeling in English as they do in their original form. Still the translations give a general idea of what the verse is about.
As I mentioned last week, we've been studying caña here in Jerez on the Flamenco Tour (along with bulerías por su puesto). We learned from Mercedes that la caña has six ays (iis) while el polo has five.
For baile, that is.
And there is a set of ays in the middle of the letra and at the end.
For cante, it's more open.
We're studying caña with Mercedes right now. (Here in Jerez on the Flamenco Tour that is.) Watching her dance while listening to Santi play the guitar can make it hard to focus on the steps. I'm sure you can imagine . . .
Below is a letra written by Paco López for her show Perspectivas.
Ya la nieve se hizo agua
de tanto llover
Los ojitos tengo secos
de sembrar y no recoger
The snow has turned to water . . .