Here’s a Bulerías de Cádiz followed by a video of Paloma Fantova at seven years old. (I’m pretty sure you’ll be blown away by how well she dances.)
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variations on letras
We are studying tangos (with abanico) with Mercedes Ruíz during the Flamenco Tour to Jerez. Naturally, we are LOVING it. The first part of our dance is to this:
Si alguna vez vas a Cádiz
ve por el barrio Santa María
verás los gitanitos
como te cantan con alegría
Tú eres la tonta inocente
tú eres la loquita perdida
cuando tú riñes con tu gente
¿por qué no te vienes a la verita mía?
When Jesús Carmona was here he recommended that every student of flamenco improvise a little bit each day. In honor of that, here's a guided exercise in improvisation along with a video and examples of how a letra can vary.
First, the letra:
In the video example the singer interprets the same bulerías letra in two different ways, which makes it great to practice to.
Version One (5 minutes in)
Dime niña hermosa
quién te peina el pelo
RESPIRO (one compás break, 12 beats)
lo peina un estudiante
te lo riza un artillerooooo... de la artillería
que con gracia y salero
con gracia y salero
The moon is almost full, so I've included a lunar themed letra for you. (Though this one would make more sense on a new moon...) And since yesterday's video analysis was a hit, I decided to do another. Below you'll find a video of Beatríz Morales dancing to today's letra and giving many clear examples of what it looks like to dance to the cante along with my description of where each component of the structure occurs within her dance. Check it out, and find out what the ultimate bulerías goal is.
Esta noche la luna a mí no me acompaña
Me voy solo pa' casa
No espero al alba
La luna se ha enfadado por no llevarla
anoche a la verbena de Santa Ana
No me enfades luna, tú no me enfades.
Today you'll find two videos of the same letra, one version as tangos, the other as bulerías...
Dancing flamenco is never just about the dancing. It is a conversation between the dancer and the musicians. As dancers we need to hear where the changes and resolutions are in the music (especially the cante) so that we can respond with our dancing. Below find an activity that you can do from home to train your ear to dance with the cante.
And speaking of cante, we worked with the following letra during the Flamenco Retreat at the Oregon Coast last weekend. (See some pictures below). We looked at where the cante resolved then put in remates with palmas and later baile to reflect that. Watch María Toledo sing it por tangos and Marina García sing it por bulerías below:
Tangos (& Bulerías)
No me pegues bocaítos
Que tú me haces cardenales
Cuando yo voy a mi casa
A mí me los nota mi madre
Traditional festivals (ferias) take place in towns big and small across southern Spain during the springtime. Locals dress up, dance, sing, eat, and have A LOT of fun. There are the bigger ferias (those of Sevilla, Jerez...) and there are the smaller ferias (those of Sanlúcar, El Puerto...). These exclusive springtime ferias are unique to Andalucía, and each one has its very own encanto (charm). One of the great things about the feria is that there you get to see both professionals and everyday people dancing flamenco; some may not dance very well technically, but they dance from the heart.
Below you'll see a video of Samara and Rocío Carrrasco at this year's Feria del Caballo in Jerez along with pictures from a variety of ferias in Andalucía.
Last week we watched Paloma Fantova get into it, so this week I want to show you a video of Belén López (who always goes all out) along with an alegrías letra.
From Sin Ti Yo No Sé Vivir (Alegrías)
Yo sé que ya no volverás
No quiero recordar
Que te fuiste pa siempre
Sin ti yo ya no sé vivir
Me he acostumbrado a ti
Y no quiero perderte
Y no te tengo primo
Y no te tengo
Today, this first day of February, a letra from Manuel Machado along with a video of Paco de Lucía, La Tana, Duquende, Montse Cortés, Niño Josele, Antonio Serrano, Alain Perez, and El Piraña.
Las penas que tú me das
son penas y no son penas;
que tienen cositas malas,
y tienen cositas buenas.
One year comes to an end, another begins. Which means ... It's time to party! Read Manuel Machado's words on how we might do this flamenco style, and watch a video of Montse Cortés and Chonchi Heredia singing it live with Paco de Lucia below.
Then check out the end of this post where I share four flamenco events I'm looking forward to in the coming year.
Una fiesta se hace
con tres personas:
Uno baila, otro canta
y el otro toca.
Ya me olvidaba
de los que dicen ¡Olé!
y tocan palmas.
Today a villancico along with two interpretations. One is a video of La Macanita singing in Carlos Saura's Flamenco and the other is Manuel Lombo performing live at the cathedral in Sevilla.
Villancicos de Gloria
Los caminos se hicieron,
con agua, viento y frío.
Caminaba un anciano,
muy triste y afligido ¡A la Gloria!
A su bendita madre, victoria!
Gloria al recién nacido, ¡Gloria!
Today a letra por tangos (or soleá, or bulerías, or soleá por bulerías...) followed by but another must-watch video,
Cuando me eches de menos
tú tienes que venir a buscarme
como un caballo sin freno
When you miss me
you'll have to come looking for me
like a horse with no brakes
Watch and listen to David Palomar sing it below along with Rafael Rodríguez on guitar. (I promise you'll be glad you did.)
Today I'm going to talk about how the same letra can (and definitely will be) interpreted in different ways by different singers. I'll also talk about why, as dancers, we need to pay attention to this. And finally, I'll share a tangos letra with you. (Oh, and at the end of the post I give you an activity to do from the comfort of your own home.)
How the same letra can vary
Depending upon who is singing, how they like to sing a given letra, and even how they are feeling at a given moment, one letra can be interpreted in many different ways.
Let's look at some examples:
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.
Quite awhile ago I published this letra. It was fall not spring when I posted it, and at that time I was preparing to embark on the VERY FIRST FlamencoTour to Jerez. Now as I get ready for the sixth (yes sixth!) tour, I'm re-posting it because:
#1: I've been admiring the daffodils blossoming all over Portland,
#2: It needed a picture. It never got a picture.
Yo vengo vendiendo flores
las tuyas son amarillas
las mías de míl colores
I'll get to the translation in a moment,
But first let's talk about words
The same letra, different words. I love this about flamenco.