Or maybe I should subtitle this “Pasodoble, the other famous style of Spanish music”. Contrary to what many a ignorantnaive guiri may think, flamenco is not the only native music style in Spain.
Pasodoble, the music beat and the dance step, is based on the music played during a bullfighter’s entrance into a bullfight (“el paseo“) or played during the passes (“faena“) just before the kill. Can you get more Spanish than that? Because of its “duple meter” (two-beat) march-like rhythm, many popular marching songs for Fallas are pasodobles.
And my personal favorite Valencian pasodoble classic is “Paquito el Xocolatero” (the “x” in Catalan is pronounced like “ch” here). The song was composed in the 1930s, to be played for the Moros y Cristianos festival in Alcoy, but over the years it has become popular to play for parades all throughout Spain, and is one of several commonly played songs during the Valencia Fallas festivities.
It was made even more famous when Els Pavesos covered it. Els Pavesos was a group formed by Joan Monleón and others from the Falla no. 50 Corretgeria – Bany dels Pavesos in the early 1970s. Els Pavesos created popular albums based on traditional songs played during Fallas. Joan Monleón, who must have been quite a colorful character, became a fixture on local TV with his own show.
per a poder-ho aguantar so as to be able to endure it.
fins que torne nostra Festa Until the return of our Festival
tan Valenciana, tan popular. so Valencian, so popular [of the people].
Pels carrers va desfilant Through the streets they go marching
entre plomes i colors among the plumes and colors
el poble se’n va entregant and the town goes surrendering
a la gràcia d’aquest home in thanks to this man
que sap com ningú ballar. who knows how to dance like no one else.
En la Festa Valenciana In the Valencian festival
tan Valenciana, tan popular. so Valencian, so popular.*Trans. note: high on life, not necessarily in the sense of drunk or high on drugs
**A classic type of liquor from Alcoy
***A filà is the marching group and formation of people in the Moros y Cristianos festival of Alcoy
****Two types of liquor made from distilling flowers with herbs (and with grain alcohol), both made in Alicante; Herbero, for example, is made from aromatic plants that grow in the Sierra de Mariola region right next to Alcoy
You can see the charm of this song for falleros. They spend all year at their mundane jobs, passing much of their free-time and weekends raising money for the Casal or preparing next season’s Falla. So when Fallas finally does come round, they let loose like Paquito here, drink a ton, dance a ton. It’s their moment!
Falleras and falleros on their way to L'ofrenda to the Virgin, most likely accompanied by a band playing traditional pasodoble songs like Paquito El Xocolatero.
Disclaimer: To like this kind of music is kind of like being a fan of “Dixie Land” in the States, which is to say, it is associated with a certain worldview and politics that, were you born in Spain, you might want to distance yourself from. Falleros tend to be more conservative and close-minded provincial, and, indeed, are likely to be those Valencians who regularly spearhead the irritating misguided efforts to declare Valenciano a distinct language from Catalan. My wife asks me to please not sing this song out loud in public, and, upon declaring my love of this Fallas music one day in Valenciano class, one of my classmates asked me whether I was sure “this was the kind of Valencian culture I wanted to associate myself with”. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and here it is worth playing the guiri card. I think this song is truly great, both melodically and lyrically.
If you agree, then I can recommend you some other classic songs of Fallas, which you can start downloading from here to create your own Fallas soundtrack. (Think of this music as being the equivalent to John Philip Sousa for the 4th of July.) A few of my personal favorites: La manta al coll, Valencia (yes, this is the song that everyone hears sung, “Valencia, es la tierra de las flores, de la luz y del amor, Valencia…“), Amparito la filla del mestre. These are more examples ofpasodoble songs which you are likely to here fallerosmarching to come this March.