“Seguiriya” is one of the oldest flamenco styles. It is one of the most important with the “bulería” and “soleá”.
Etymologically, its name is supposed to derive from the “seguidilla”. A phonetic corruption has deformed it in different terms: “seguiriya”, “siguiriya”, “seguirilla” or “siguerilla”. The oldest evidence of this flamenco style is found in the late 18th century, even though its origin is still uncertain. “Seguiriya” derived from primitive “tonás”, being created between Seville and Cadiz, los Puertos, Jerez and Triana neighborhood.
“Livianas” and “serranas” belong to the same group as this style. Both styles follow "segiriya" rhythm. Another variety is the “cabales”, which are very similar to "seguiriyas" but in a higher tone.
As singing, it has a tragic and gloomy character, enclosing main values of what is known as “cante hondo”. Lyrics are painful, tragic, about human relationships, love and death.
“Seguiriya” has few lyrics and many “quejíos”. Musical aesthetic of “seguiriya” is taken from styles such “malagueñas” or a capella (without guitar). The term “Seguiriya” appears in many literary works. Furthermore, music in some "tonadillas"appear as "seguidilla gitana", which doesn't match with "seguidilla flamenca".
It is known today that its metric is based on an order inversion of the “soleá” rhythm (3 × 4 + 6 × 8). Oldest forms of this style were interpreted in the same way as “tonás”, without music accompaniment. Currently, it is accompanied by guitar. In addition, continuous tone changes and nuances make this singing as one of the most difficult to perform. Dance was introduced for the first time thanks to Vicente Escudero in 1940. It is a slow, solemn, ceremonious, unornamented dance, whose structure is composed by four hexasyllabic verses, unless the third which is hendecasyllabic. This syllabic model is related with “jarchas”. The second line rhymes to the fourth, both consonant and assonance. In this flamenco style feeling is more important than structure. It is not strange to find “seguiriya” with other metrics. There are different types of “seguiriyas” which are associated to a particular singer. In Cadiz, El Planeta; in Jerez, La Niña de los Peines; in Triana el de Frasco el Colorao; etc.