More on the Saeta
I have just looked back at my blog on Saetas from last year. It is really interesting to see what I have learned since then.
Last week I walked as usual from Plaza Mercado to the Nueva Medina apartments where I live and pass by San Mateo church. I realise that I’d read that there was a saeta ‘show’ on at the start of Semana Santa and I went in. I was a bit late and the singing had started. There is something electric about the saeta. Juan Garrido – a journalist who writes in the Diario de Jerez about flamenco was giving an address and he spoke about how you hear this sound come out of the silence from the balcony. It is a flamenco hymn to God and is based upon the Siguiryas, one of the cante jondo forms of flamenco. I would have to explore more about the tonality – it is based on one of the modes in music rather than a normal classical ‘scale’ and right now I am not sure which one. However it has lots of half tones and very complex tonality. I walked in and had a ‘wow’ as I saw the beautiful retablo at the front and heard the saeta being sung. It is a very heart stopping moment.
A week later I had a ticket to go to the Iglesia Santiago for a similar event and some of the very famous saeta singers of a very reknowned flamenco barrio. Then another week later I attended a Saeta competition run by the local flamenco Peña Buena Gente. This time I heard in person my singing teacher’s uncle Antonio Vargas. Last year in one of my lessons he played me some of the saetas on YouTube. This year I heard him in person and he came second. Actually he won because there wasn’t a first place. I am so proud of having that lesson from Luis about the saeta and then hearing him at the competition. Later as I was watching one of the processions in Semana Santa I heard Antonio singing the saeta in the early morning in Plaza Santiago just by Iglesia Santiago. I feel so lucky to experience this. I call this year’s Semana Santa the year of the Saeta.
Ultimately it is about the spine tingling melody, the reverence of the words and the total silence of the crowd as they watch and wait and then listen to this ethereal music.