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Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

Topics in Flamenco's lyrics 

I was wondering this morning.. so far the - very few - songs I understand the lyrics of, are all about heartbreak/breakup/love, the joy of life and the anguish of death.

..but: What other topics are to be found in Flamenco's letras?
Are/were there any cantaores picking up topics such as social-criticism? Or even philosophical topics?

I'm grateful for any insight on the spectrum of Flamenco's lyrics and its topics!

Kind regards,

Deniz
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 9:59:52
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13229
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

No doblen Las campanas!
Creyeron que una reina
(Una reina no era)
Era una pobre gitana

In the old days before cell phones, a guy had the job to alert the town when the royal family came through town, by ringing the huge bell in the watchtower. So the watchman sees this gorgeous women traveling with a big entourage being carried up in a beautiful gown etc, and rings the bell. The whole town scrambles to prepare for the “queen’s” arrival. But then some guy comes running toward the tower yelling to stop ringing the bell! False alarm, it’s NOT the Queen, it’s just some dirt poor gypsy girl getting married.

Lots of lyrics have to do with Gypsy life and their pride, living and working in poverty, and keep in mind, the marriages are ALL arranged. So, the emotions involved there should be obvious.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 18:57:30
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3193
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

"Esa morena, cuando fue a Utrera
En las esquinas pusieron banderas." por alegrias

"“Mira que bonito está
y como reluce mi Cai
sobre un cachito de tierra
que le ha robaíto al mar”
Aurelio Selles, Cádiz 1887.

One of many, many letras praising the city of Cádiz.

"Si queréis saber, señores
lo que Zaragoza vale
se lo pregunten a Francia
que los franceses lo saben”

Refers to the defeat of Napoleon's army at the first Siege of Zaragoza in 1808.
Sabicas used to play a version of the military march (not flamenco) "El Sitio de Zaragoza" which imitated trumpets and drums.

“Sentinela de los mares
el faro la Caleta
porque guía los barquito
la noche de temporale.”

The lighthouse at the northern tip of Cádiz. Temporale = tempestad.

“Isla de mi corazón
que bonita te hizo Dios
que donde quiera que estoy
te tengo presente yo”
Camarón de la Isla, Isla de San Fernando (Cádiz).

Another famous cantaor praising his home town.

"Por la Sierra Morena
va una partía
y el capitán se llama
José Maria.
Que no va preso
mientras su jaca torda
tenga pescuezo."

serranas: una partía = bandits in the Sierra Morena

...and so on...

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 19:07:25
 
Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Ricardo

@Ricardo

I guess the Gitano way of living evokes many social and philosophical questions itself. Makes me think of a line I picked up from the documentary "El Cante Bueno Duele" where Jesus Mendez sings something like "Money and Love - they are each others equal and yet so different".
In many aspects I find the Flamenco/Gipsy culture awfully inspiring.

@Richard
Haven't quite grasped what the flags are refering to in this? Care to elaborate on this one?

I guess getting better at Spanish and learning more about the Gitano culture becomes a neccesity to fully immerse in this music.

Thanks for sharing guys, I'm curious to learn more about Flamenco's lyrics!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 20:08:03
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3193
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deniz

@Richard
Haven't quite grasped what the flags are refering to in this? Care to elaborate on this one?



The girl is so wonderful that the citizens of Utrera celebrated her arrival by flying flags on the street corners. A bit of andalú hyperbole.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 20:14:42
 
tf10music

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Jan. 3 2017
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Richard Jernigan

There are lots of letras that discuss Gitano social life and subjugation, as others have mentioned above. There are others that bear witness to the absence of Jews and Muslims (this is significant because in many cases the Gitanos were occupying similar social roles to the ones that Jews and Muslims had filled before the expulsions in 1492 and 1609):

El rey moro con la paz
¡qué bien ha queao!
toíta tu gente t’han coronao,
pues dile que entre, se calentará
porque en este tierra no hay cariá.

That's an alboreá.

And here's possibly the most famous peteneras letra:

-¿Dónde vas, bella judía,
tan compuesta y a deshora?
-Voy en busca de Rebeco
que está en una sinagoga

With regards to philosophy: there is an emergent ontology that can be gleaned from the way in which flamenco letras understand space, time, landscape and the social sphere -- some of it is explicit, but still more of it exceeds the bounds of intentionality (as is often the case in poetry). A sizeable chunk of my academic work is devoted to thinking about this right now, though I'm still in the early-ish stages.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 21 2020 22:58:14
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13229
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to tf10music

quote:

And here's possibly the most famous xxxxxxx letra


Oh no you didn’t !!!!!

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 22 2020 17:12:09
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3289
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Oh no you didn’t !!!!!


My reaction exactly upon reading it.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 22 2020 17:35:37
 
tf10music

 

Posts: 104
Joined: Jan. 3 2017
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

Oh no you didn’t !!!!!


I'm living life on the edge!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 22 2020 17:37:55
 
Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Hey guys, today I found this Tientos recording from Bení de Cadiz
https://youtu.be/mWKKG44sS5A

I felt I had heard the lyrics already and remembered Rancapino Chico had sung them over a Zambra

It's even dedicated to Bení I just notice.

Anyways, this seems to be a known letra, are there any lyrics to this online?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 9 2020 9:59:06
 
Piwin

Posts: 3339
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Here you go:

La barca de mis amores
no le teme a los temporales,
que lleva de marinero
a dos cariños iguales.

¿Cuando yo miro tu carita
en la torre de mis años,
porque repican las campanitas?

¿Qué quieres de mí?
No ves que me estoy muriendo,
que así no puedo vivir.

If you use the tomaflamenco.com site that kitarist linked to recently, you can also search for other occurrences where these letra were used.


On a separate note, I'm going to take a break from the foro for a while. I should still get an email notification if you PM me, so if ever any of you drop by Madrid and want to grab a coffee, caña or whatever, send a PM and I should get it. Stay safe out there folks and see you around.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2020 10:14:09
 
Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Thanks a lot Piwin!

Did I get the first verse (btw: how do they call them "in Flamenco"?) anywhere near right?

"The ship of my love
doesn't fear the storms
that lead the sailor
to two equal hearts"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2020 11:50:55
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3193
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Los gorriones
Comen el trigo
Y les echan la culpa
A las golondrinas.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 12 2020 2:19:13
 
Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

I often stumble upon these words:

"a clavo y canela"

..does it really mean "to clove and cinnamon" ? And what is that even supposed to mean? I only know clove and cinnamon as a good treat for toothache
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 21 2020 14:18:42
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13229
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deniz

I often stumble upon these words:

"a clavo y canela"

..does it really mean "to clove and cinnamon" ? And what is that even supposed to mean? I only know clove and cinnamon as a good treat for toothache


Found this
quote:

ORIGINAL: Jacinto
De clavito y canela
Hueles tu a mi
El que no huele a clavito y canela
no sabe a distinguir

You (Thou) smell to me of cloves and cinnamon
He who has never smelled cloves and cinnamon
Doesn't know how to distinguish

[Here my Spanish fails me- the last line doesn't literally say " doesn't know how to distinguish between the two ["cloves" and "cinnamon""] So I have recently been thinking it is meant more generally like "doesn't have any discernment" ("Don't know nothing from nothing")


I always took it to refer to people that don’t agree with the sentiment don’t have good taste or deep enough understanding...probably about women but perhaps it’s metaphorical for any subject.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 21 2020 19:07:24
 
RobF

Posts: 1169
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

...probably about women but perhaps it’s metaphorical for any subject.

That’s the beauty of good poetry, it can mean so many different things to different people. It could be evocative of a mother, a lover, a place, or a moment in time.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 21 2020 20:08:53
 
Deniz

Posts: 91
Joined: Feb. 16 2020
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Thanks Ricardo, in the context of lyrics the phrase seem much more in place.
I like the room for interpretation this one gives, that's what makes good poetry imho..

My shot is:
quote:

You (Thou) smell to me of cloves and cinnamon
He who has never smelled cloves and cinnamon
Doesn't know how to distinguish


The smell of cloves and cinnamon reminds him of this woman*
Someone who never had her - or in that sense, a woman like her - doesn't know how to distinguish love from true love.

*For context:
-> cloves are often associated with marriage (white ones) and love/passion (red ones)
-> cinnamon not only used to be much more expensive than these days, but it was also used for perfumes and some even say as a aphrodisiac

..damn, I really like those lines, so much to find in such few words!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 21 2020 21:32:06
 
RobF

Posts: 1169
Joined: Aug. 24 2017
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

quote:

For context:
-> cloves are often associated with marriage (white ones) and love/passion (red ones)
-> cinnamon not only used to be much more expensive than these days, but it was also used for perfumes and some even say as a aphrodisiac

That’s interesting. In light of that, those lyrics are pretty deep, like they’re saying that one won’t be able to distinguish between love and lust until they’ve known both. In that context, it could be a proclamation of love and desire, perhaps a marriage proposal.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 21 2020 22:50:22
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3324
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

quote:

I often stumble upon these words:

"a clavo y canela"

..does it really mean "to clove and cinnamon" ? And what is that even supposed to mean? I only know clove and cinnamon as a good treat for toothache


I seem to remember reading (but can't remember where - sleeve notes probably) that cinnamon is especially significant symbolically in either Andaluz or Gitano culture or both, (can't remember which of those 3 options), think of the El Pele song "Que bien te suena" where the estribillo concludes "y mi gitana guapa es de canela"

here at 0.40



_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 22 2020 8:41:30
 
Piwin

Posts: 3339
Joined: Feb. 9 2016
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

quote:

Did I get the first verse (btw: how do they call them "in Flamenco"?) anywhere near right?

"The ship of my love
doesn't fear the storms
that lead the sailor
to two equal hearts"


I would just call it a "letra". In the context of the overall structure of a song, you could also call it a "tercio", though I'm not sure if that term can be used for all cantes. My understanding is that the term comes from bullfighting, where there are indeed three parts (tercio de varas, tercio de banderillas and tercio de muerte). By analogy, the term is used for the different verses in flamenco.

I'm not sure about the lyrics. I understand "llevar de marinero" as meaning "to bring out to sea", "to carry on board", and I think the preceding "que" has the meaning of porque/because. "lleva" is singular, so the subject isn't the storms, but the ship. The open question for me is whether the "dos carinos" includes the singer or not. If it does, then it might mean something like he's not afraid of the storm because he and his lover are equal in their love for each other ("she loves me as much as I love her" kind of thing). If it doesn't (which is what I'm leaning towards, because in the first line it's "amores" in the plural), then it might mean something like not being afraid of the storm because his love is split equally between two people/things. (if one falls overboard, you still have the other? ). Honestly don't know.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Oct. 3 2020 6:45:53
 
flamencoMAPS

 

Posts: 8
Joined: May 14 2021
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to Deniz

Hi!
I am always very happy to see when people are interested in the meaning(s) of the letras.

Here is a selection of letras on different topics:
https://studio.youtube.com/channel/UCTwiEvB5jHwdgVcdu4GMh-w/playlists

We try to keep:
- the metric: lines, syllables, rhymes
- the poetic dimension

A new letra comes every Friday.

Saludo!
Guille

_____________________________

flamencoMAPS, by Guillermo Guillén
https://flamencomaps.com/
https://guillermoguillen.com/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2021 14:14:21
 
mecmachin

 

Posts: 103
Joined: Aug. 7 2010
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to flamencoMAPS

hola guillem,

great youtube channel. love the idea.
just put a recording for you in the audio/vid upload section.

un abrazo
mecmachin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 10 2021 22:06:35
 
mecmachin

 

Posts: 103
Joined: Aug. 7 2010
 

RE: Topics in Flamenco's lyrics (in reply to flamencoMAPS

BTW, the link in you post isn't working.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Sep. 12 2021 12:41:51
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