The saeta floods the streets and corners of the city during Holy Week, a song with a deep history throughout the ages that we tell you about in this post on our blog.
One of the most widespread theories says that the origin of the current saetas is in the Coplillas sung or recited in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the Franciscan Fathers. This type of coplillas served to indicate to the sinners that they had to repent of their sins, they incited to devotion and penitence. Between 1800 and 1840 the saeta became a popular song, although it is not yet flamenco.
The saeta in Spain
Nowadays, saetas in Spain are sung in Easter events.
In Andalusia, and also in Murcia, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla-León, the song is transformed into a deep moan and lament. It is the saeta, a popular song that is performed at the passing of the processions. It is a heartfelt and deep communication between the singer and the image of Jesus or the Dolorosa. The origin of the word comes from the Latin "sagitta" or "saeta".
The Saeta is sung throughout Andalusia, although there is a golden triangle that runs from Cadiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Malaga, coinciding with Cordoba and Seville. The towns of Puente Genil, Cabra, Castro del Río, Mairena del Alcor and Marchena preserve their saetas with their own characteristics.
The Saetas Flamencas now performed have 4 or 5 verses of 8 syllables. The most popular styles are defined in three, corresponding to palos known as saetas por seguiriyas, martinetes and carceleras de Puente Genil.
The flamenco saeta
Around 1880 the most popular saeta becomes the saeta flamenca. Little by little, the custom of singing them spread through the Andalusian villages, which flamencoized it, adapting it to their own style to express deep feelings. Thus, the saeta was transformed into its current form. Because of its depth, it matched well with the tone of the passion of Christ.
The saeta underwent a transformation and in this process the greats of this song intervened: Manuel Centeno or Antonio Chacón. Manuel Torre, without forgetting La Serrana, Medina El Viejo, La Niña de los Peines and Manuel Vallejo.
In the Holy Week of Seville in 1919 there was a well known duel between two saeteros from Jerez, Joselito el Gallo and the cattle rancher Eduardo Miura who started with a saeta that said: "Por no saber lo que hacerle, le escupen, le abofetean/ y le coronan de espinas/ y la sangre le chorrea/ por su carita divina" (For not knowing what to do to him, they spit on him, they slap him/ and crown him with thorns/ and blood drips/ down his divine face).
Manuel Centeno, one of the greatest saeteros
Manuel Centeno (1907 - 1961) became the most sought-after saetero in Seville. He was known as the emperor of the saeta, and to whom is attributed the authorship of the saeta por seguiriyas. In 1926 he sang for the first time his famous saeta to the cross of Guide of the Brotherhood of Silence.
During the Republic, the saeta also had an air of political protest, during its penitential station: on Holy Thursday, the Virgin of the Star was sung the saeta that said.
"It is said in the blue bank, that Spain is no longer Christian, and although it hurts the Congress, who rules is you, Morning Star!"
From Centeno's saeta comes the modern version of the saeta that was imposed in Seville from the twenties of the last century, called artistic and spread by Rocio Vega Farfa, (1895-1975), better known as La Niña de la Alfalfa, who in 1916 was proclaimed by King Alfonso XIII queen of saetas.
Pastora Pavón, La Niña de los Peines (1890-1969) is another of the most important saeteras. A woman very devoted to the Gran Poder and the Macarena, she was idolized in Seville as a saetera.
The saeta in present times
The saeta entered a period of decline in the sixties and seventies. The historical saeteros, who transmitted their knowledge and art orally, disappeared. The greats of the copla dared with this difficult song: Rocio Jurado (1946-2006) became known, winning a saeta contest; Juanita Reina sang to La Macarena de Sevilla; Marifé de Triana was a great saetera, born in Burguillos, Sevilla.
The saeta is still alive in La Semana Santa, which has been so long awaited in recent years, will come out of the throat of the saeteros who will wait impatiently for the moment of the song.