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The seguidilla is a quick, triple-time old Castillian folksong and dance form. (The dance portion is spelt in the plural, as seguidillas.) The song is generally in the major key and often begins on an off-beat. The name is actually a diminutive of seguida (from seguir: to follow [1]).


In general, seguidilla folksongs begin with a brief instrumental introduction, often played on guitar, followed by a salida, which is a small portion of the song text acting as a false start. The remaining sections are free and varied, consisting of instrumental interludios and the vocal sections called coplas.


The dance is performed in pairs with animated footwork reflecting the rhythm of the guitar and percussion, yet restrained upper body movement. One technique characteristic of the dance is known as bien parado, wherein the dancers stop motion at the end of a section of the music or stanza of text while the instruments continue playing into the next section. Usually the dancer (woman) also holds Castanets.


The earliest and most influential of the types of seguidilla is thought to be the Castilian style, in particular the seguidillas manchengas, which originated in La Mancha. Other variants include the murcianas from Murcia, and the slightly faster sevillanas of Seville. One of the most complex styles of seguidilla is the gypsy seguidilla (also known as the seguiriya or the seguidilla gitana), which is used in flamenco music. Jacques Offenbach's opera Pericole has a number in act one that's called "Séguedille", it is in 2/4 time.

Seguidilla aria[edit]

The Seguidilla aria forms part of Act I of the French opera, Carmen by Georges Bizet. The beautiful gypsy, Carmen, sings it in an attempt to seduce her captor, the soldier Don José, into going with her to her friend Lillas Pastia's inn. [2] It is likely also that the "Veil Song" (Act II, scene 1, of Don Carlos) by Giuseppe Verdi is meant to evoke the style of a seguidilla. Moreover, in Verdi's La forza del destino, the composer inserts a folkdance at the beginning of Act II, and calls it seguidilla on the score. However, this passage is written in 4/4, not in triple time as seguidilla traditionally is. A Seguidilla aria also features in Paisiello's opera Il barbiere di Siviglia.


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary seguidilla. Accessed May 2008.
  2. ^ Aria database Seguidilla ("Près des ramparts de Séville"). Accessed March 2008