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Prayer Made Song

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Singing Palos
Una Saeta

From Seville to Jerez de la Frontera, and passing through Algeciras, Periana, Don Benito and Miajadas, there are many cities and towns in which Saetas ring out amongst the aromas of orange blossoms and incense. Several contests and events celebrating this flamenco style born of prayers and requests for grace from the Christs and Virgins of Holy Week were held this week.

The Saeta’s lyrics reflect the moment of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ and the Virgin’s pain upon witnessing her son’s crucifixion, and what began as a spontaneous prayer ended as a song difficult to execute. The first known records of the saeta are from the last third of the XVIII century. However, it is probable that they existed even earlier, although there’s no evidence of it...

Although it is a difficult style, there are many aficionados who take part in Holy Week activities and sing their prayers, as devotion is the most important element. This spontaneity is what makes new lyrics appear each year, although there are famous lyricists and performers, such as Pinto, Enrique El Morcilla, Jarrito, Gallego, La Niña de los Peines, Rafael Romero, Manolo Caracol, La niña de la Alfalfa, La Paquera de Jerez and Tomás Pavón.

The usual verse of the Saeta is a fourth or a fifth, and as with other flamenco styles, its performance has different topographical variations, so Saetas vary depending on its location of origin. There’s the old Cordoban saeta, the cuartelera de Puente Genil, the samaritana de Castro del Río and the saetas marcheneras, and Marchena is one of the areas considered the epicenter of the Saeta.

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