I don’t have faith. I should modify that: I don’t have the faith, not the kind so admirably identified by Clara Beltrán, a young woman from Sevilla who has a big career ahead of her singing cante jondo, the “deep song”. Although I don’t share Clara’s faith, I am moved by it. Seems somewhat paradoxical. And her saeta can move one to tears. Feel that. As she herself says, when she sings to her Christ she tears up. She also says quite emphatically that it's all about feeling, feeling that comes from faith. And then with that single pronoun she identifies something essential about saetas and, I believe, about cante jondo generally: the heart of things, the esential questions, are made real when expresssed in personal, intimate terms. (On the other hand, it’s quite funny how she catches herself when she’s about to utter something about having to sing to Christ figures that don’t mean much to her. But she doesn’t quite say it. She was on the cusp of giving voice to an uncomfortable truth regarding holy week celebrations in Southern Spain: contrary to the logic of Christian dogma, there are intensely held personal preferences regarding the iconography. ¡No te metas con mi Virgen! Count me among the guilty!) Back to the saeta: the suffering is felt intimately. There is nothing superficial about it. The voice, the gestures, and above all, the centrality of the setting, propitiate the comunication of intensely felt emotions. Pain so horrible it threatens our very existence. Love so immense it can redeem all. Is any of this real? She can be seen and listened to on this youtube video. Anyway, I came across this video in the context of my composition course, in which we listened to a few of the songs from Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain. One of the songs is titled Saeta, and I wanted to give them some context, so that’s where Clara comes in. The point of listening to Miles was to talk about cultural borrowings. We didn’t get far in that conversation, but we’ll come back to it. (Above, "La chiquita piconera" by Julio Romero de Torres.)