Keep your legs together, the pines are painful! Check out my latest video singing the Spanish folk stylings of Manuel de Falla.

These two short pieces are taken from the famous Spanish song cycle Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Spanish Folksongs) by Manuel de Falla. Published in 1914, this evocative setting of traditional folksongs from various regions of Spain is one of the most widely interpreted song cycles in Spanish classical repertoire. Throughout the song cycle, de Falla’s piano accompaniment imitates the arpeggiated strums of traditional Spanish guitar work, for an effect that gentrifies the regional sounds of Spain into contemporary classical music. 

My first performance is the first song of the cycle, “El paño moruno” (“The Moorish Cloth”). Referring to the Moorish region of southern Spain, the lyric seems to tell the very mundane story of a cloth in a store that has been discounted due to a stain. However, simmering under the surface here is a stern warning to young ladies to maintain their virginity until marriage, less their value be sullied. As an occasional sex-positive superhero, it’s always fun for me to play a villain!

Lyrics: 

Al paño fino, en la tienda,

una mancha le cayó;

Por menos precio se vende,

Porque perdió su valor.

Ay!

Translation:

The fine cloth in the shop

got stained;

It will be sold at a cheaper price

Because it has lost its value.

Ah!

My second performance is the third song of the cycle, “Asturiana,” a folk song from the Asturias in northern Spain. The lyrics hazily evoke a scene between the singer and a green pine tree reaching to each other for consolation from their shared pain. The Asturias are known for their greenery and plentiful pine trees, so I interpreted this as a song about homesickness. The singer has encountered an Asturian pine somewhere else in the world, and neither are able to return home. They comfort each other, they understand one another’s pain deeply, but they cannot relieve the suffering that their encounter has triggered in one another. For me, this song contains some of the most beautiful and heart wrenching moments of my entire program. 

Lyrics:

Por ver si me consolaba,

Arrime a un pino verde.

Por verme llorar, lloraba,

Y el pino como era verde!

Translation: 

To see if it consoled me

I leaned against a green pine. 

Upon seeing me cry, it cried

and how green was that pine!

Is there a song lyric you’re stumped on? I love helping singers find meaningful lyric interpretations to supercharge their performances. Contact me for a free consultation. 

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