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Copla (meter)

The copla is a poetic form of four verses found in many Spanish popular songs as well as in Spanish language literature. There is a related musical genre of the same name. The form is also found widely in Latin America. The name derives from the Latin copula, ("link" or "union").

Coplas normally consist of four verses de arte minor (that is, of no more than eight syllables to a line) of four lines each, either of Spain's most characteristic popular meter, the romance (8- 8a 8- 8a), or of seguidilla (7- 5a 7- 5a) or redondilla (8a 8b 8b 8a).

Although most commonly considered a popular form, it has not been scorned by cultivated writers. Among those who have written coplas are Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana, Rafael Alberti, Luis de Góngora, Antonio Machado, Jorge Manrique and Federico García Lorca. Manuel Machado wrote of coplas, using the form himself:

Spanish original

Rough English translation

style=padding-right:30px|Hasta que el pueblo las canta,

Until the people [or village] sings them

las coplas, coplas no son,

coplas are not coplas,

y cuando las canta el pueblo

and when the people sing them

ya nadie sabe el autor.

By then, no one knows who wrote them.



Tal es la gloria, Guillén,

Such is the glory, Guillén,

de los que escriben cantares:

Of those who write songs:

oír decir a la gente

To hear the people say

que no los ha escrito nadie.

That no one wrote these.



Procura tú que tus coplas

Try to make it that your songs

vayan al pueblo a parar,

go among the people to stick around,

aunque dejen de ser tuyas

although they cease to be yours

para ser de los demás.

to belong to the others.



Que, al fundir el corazón

Which, to melt the heart

en el alma popular,

in the soul of the people,

lo que se pierde de nombre

that which it loses of a name

se gana de eternidad.

it gains of eternity.



The language of the copla is colloquial and direct, although there may also be double entendres, especially for comic or lascivious effect.


Copla (a Spanish word) may refer to:

  • Copla (meter), a poetic form common in Spanish popular writing.
  • Copla (music), a musical genre related to that poetic form.
Copla (music)

The copla, copla andaluza (" Andalusian copla"), tonadilla or canción folklórica is a form of Spanish popular song, deriving from the poetic form of the same name. Although the genre has a long heritage, it flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, and is epitomized by songwriters Antonio Quintero, Rafael de León and Manuel Quiroga.

One of the first singers of coplas was Raquel Meller. Initially she sang cuplé, which later evolved in Andalusian and Spanish song into the copla as it is known today. Other well-known singers of coplas are Imperio Argentina, Manolo Corrales, Estrellita Castro, Concha Piquer, Miguel de Molina, Lola Flores, Marifé de Triana, Juanita Reina, Manolo Escobar, Juanito Valderrama, Sara Montiel and Antonio Molina.

Particularly of note is :es: Carlos Cano, who was a key figure in reviving the popularity of the copla in the later 20th century. More recent singers of coplas include Rocío Jurado, Bambino, María Jiménez, Isabel Pantoja, Martirio, and :es:Miguel Poveda and, even more recently, Pasión Vega, Clara Montes, Pastora Soler, Aurora Guirado, Diana Navarro, Concha Buika, La Shica, Montse Delgado and opera singer Plácido Domingo, who released an album of coplas entitled Pasión Española in 2008. Some of these artists, particularly Pasión Vega (born 1976) and Diana Navarro (born 1978), have bent and stretched the genre in directions that have come to be known as Nueva Copla ("New Copla").

Some examples of famous coplas include "Ojos verdes" (Green Eyes), "Tatuaje" (Tattoo), "La false moneda" (The Fake Coin), "María de la O," and Rocío." The lyrics often feature marginalized characters, including prostitutes, sailors, escaped convicts, gypsies and so on, and have themes based on the "illegitimacy of all relationships outside the recognized heterosexual marriage" (i.e., mistreated women, abandoned children and extramarital affairs). See Made in Spain: Studies in Popular Music at 94-95. Because these were stories of love gone wrong, of women who crossed the line of sexual mores, and of men's honor, they used to be criticized for being old-fashioned and sexist. However, more recently, modern performers have given the songs a new twist by "selecting coplas that vindicate a women's power, their independence and their passion." Id. at 287.