Siete canciones populares españolas

Siete canciones populares españolas (“Seven Spanish Folksongs”) is a cycle of traditional Spanish songs. Filtered and re-arranged for soprano and piano by Manuel de Falla in 1914, it quickly became one of the most popular sets of Spanish songs. Originally dedicated to Madame Ida Godebska, who hosted regular gatherings for Parisian artists (like the Mallarmé Tuesdays) and arranged for the first edition of the songs, the cycle is one of the most transcribed in music history since the times of Bach: there are arrangements for solo piano, voice and guitar, piano and cello and two versions for orchestra.

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De Falla himself wrote: “In all honesty, I think that in popular song, the spirit is more important than the letter. The essential features of these songs are rhythm, tonality, and melodic intervals. The people themselves prove this by their infinite variations on the purely melodic lines of the songs.

The songs derive from different regions of Spain, maintaining their original character and appeal without ever falling into cliché. Even typical guitar techniques, like the rasqueado, are “reproduced” on the piano, as the musical analysis of each piece show. All of them deal with love and everything that comes with it, joyful or painful. As it usually happens with great composers, De Falla added his own twist to the original songs, thus making them more interesting.

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