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Number 12. March of 1999. Spanish language  Principal menu
Number 13. April of 1999

The "Aragonesian" Jot


The jot is a universal phenomenon, even though it is in Aragon where it has greater root, emphasize of a lot of folkclorics resources: dawns, dances, , quadrilles, "albadas", light songs, romance, holy and profane joys, songs and Christmas caroles. There is a couplet that says: " The jot was born in Valencia / and was raised in Aragón. / Calatayud was its cradle / in the border of the Jalón".·. It is spoken of some origins a doubtful so much, since this couplet is based on a legend that the researchers assure untruthful: " The moor Aben-Jot (banished of Valencia), arrives to Calatayud and he makes known a melody of his invention, to the one which gave the jot name. "The jot is called jot, / because it was invented iby Aben-Jot / and it is called aragonesian, / because here it was baptized.". All it is untruthful, because the voice jot does not exist in classic Arab as common name or surname and the voice -aben- means ·son· or ·descendent·.

It exist many discrepancies about of the origin of the jot and its antiquity seems be not soared more back of the XVII century. Ribera Tarragó, assures that the jot and all the regional  typical image airs, have its source in the "cantigas" of Alfonso X The Scholar, though an authority in the topic, as Demetrio Galán Bergua, supports that ·the dreams of Ribera, lack all consistence. Moreover there is someone twho asserts that the jot has inspiration from Canarian Island.

The jot name, appears between the twilights of the XVII century and beginning of the XVIII. Until later, neither in "El Quijote" of Cervantes, that takes issue with 17 dances, is mentioned to the jot; neither so even when their heroes arrive to the "Ínsula" Barataria (in the proximities of the Ebro, - Pedrola and Alcalá -). For Galán Bergua however, the jot exists- though without that name -, from the XVII century at least, and he test it with the Christmas carol dated in 1666 ·Of brilliance are gilded the airs· (original by Ruiz of Samaniego, master of chapel of the Pillar) , that has characteristic certain of jot. With respect to the origin of the voice "jot" there is who relates it to the Arabic word ·xotah, that would mean to jump, to jump rhythmically. This word, transmits us to the Arcipreste of Hita, who employs the spanish verb "sotar" in the ·Libro de los Cantares·. But the word jot, of the manner that we know it today, was found consigned for the first time, in a manuscript at the end of XVIIth century , originating from Avila, that it is titled ·Figures for Harp and that in the folio 25, it was heading this title: La ·Jota·. Of any manner, the origin continues being an obscure mystery. The master Bretón, about 1890, he was assuring after stopped studies of the jot (when he wrote ·La Dolorosa·), that was very different to the Arabic music, since the air of the jot, it is noble, exempt, energetic, amatorial, and its mode is major. While the airs derived from the Islamic influence, they are soft, sentimental, docks, of curve melody and the tones are minors. Nevertheless, it seems mandatory to admit that the jot has some narrow link with the Arabic music. It will be which were the origin of the jot, it is Calatayud ( with or without reason ) who is considered cradle of the sung jot. Against this, he is raised Martínez Torner, who asserts that the jot proceed of Andalucia, connecting it with the fandango. Other, as Ricardo del Arco, insinuates that the couplets that are sung to the dawn, certain days of the year, are the persistence of the epic poetry -religious of certain iberics tribes. The historian Miguel Mitjana, yet arrives further and vestiges iberics speech , basques, gothics and eastern. For Tomás Bretón, if the jot does not originate of the fandango, it makes from Italy, from ·The Venecian Carnival·, of equal technical invoice. For Antonio Beltrán, the jot never it was previous to the XVII century, begining its expansion in the XVIII century, and in the XIX one, it is spread over all Spain. For him, what today we know as aragonesian jot, it is fruit of a long musical evolution that it is not concretized until good entered the XVIII century; it is not risky to accept Arabic-Andalusian links, that it is the same as to accept relationship with what is Byzantine and Persian. We can conclude, it assure that it continues persisting since the doubt, about the origin and historical precedents.

Number 13. April of 1999

It was necessary to find the first score of the jot, for power to date its birth. That labor was sponsored by Juán Bautista Bastero Beguiristain, president of the Feasts Commission of the hall of the town of Zaragoza, at that time. The finding was produced in 1946, in the musical file of the Basilica of the Pillar, where was found several Christmas caroles devoted to the Virgin of the Pillar, compounds by Josep Ruyz of Samaniego who was chapel master appointee of the Pillar at 27 of September of 1661. The search was recommended Gregorio Arciniega, master of chapel in 1940; after arduous labor, checking hundred of dusty files, it gave its result when appeared an old score, of ancient writing, titled "Of brilliance are gilded the airs" signed by Samaniego in 1666. Was presenting the characteristic compasses of the jot; -it was the same jot !, with 16 first compasses that give the entry to the song. The master Arciniega made a succeeded transcription to the modern notation, with two choirs and soloists, and orchestration, being staunch to the original that observed in all its peculiar physiognomy. The version of so appraised work, was given to know in the Exaltation Holiday of the Aragonesian Folklore, in the evening of the 12 of October of 1946, by the Donostiarra Chorus and the Symphonic Orchestra of Zaragoza. To musical effects, it does not exist other document more valid. The letter says thus: " Of brilliance are gilded the airs/ and the crystal of the Ebro is silvery, / that to mean night a sun / its course begins. / The lights are approached, / are banished the gloom, / the meadow exhibits flowers, / the Sky hides stars". The letter is by a no-known author .

Previous to the song of the jot, it is the dance.  Dancing a jot With the accompaniment of the dance, it was completed the evolution of the folklore. Andrés Cester Zapata indicates that within the different paths that from their origins continued the dances and dancings (religious, national, imported, courtier, etc., ..), they are the religious or sacred those which more influence have been able to have in relationship to the origin of the jot. It is known that the first dances were intended for to regale to Supreme. The Egyptians and Hebrew were regaling to their divinities, with the dance. Then, they would adapt it for himself the Greeks. We can assure that the íberos (iberians) had sacred dances also. This usage was introduced in the Christian cult, above all, from the IVth century, arriving to be imposed the dance, in the rites and ceremonies of the church, persisting during centuries. For some cause, these sacred dances, degenerated, therefore the Pope Zacarías (year 774) forbids to dance in the interior of the shrines. This was not the only one occasion, since throughout the history are multiple the times in which are forbidden the dances before of images or in the interior of the churches, what gives the measure of the mores of the people. It seems logical, that from these prohibitions, the people takes some of these dances and adapt it to the use and usage of the popular feeling. This would explain the coincidence in a way and methods in some regions, being differentiated solely by small details of the locality. It seems certain since, that the people accepts the jot in its bosom, and that the bagpipe and the dulzaina (a kind of flageolet) have been the instruments that they have accompanied to this usage.

With all probability, the jot was in the street in 1828, when Fernando VII and his wife accomplished their second visit to Zaragoza. We also know of the force with it was expressed from The Sites of Zaragoza. The jot in the Altoaragón (Upper Aragon), is vigor and austerity. Emphasize between them, that of San Lorenzo. In the Somontano(under mountain) it is agile, while in the mountain, it is more rested. In Ansó and Hecho, has affectionate connotations: it is the the one which dancer round to the dancer, making circles; but it arrives a moment in which even both dance caught of the waist. The woman-dancer is passive , while the man-dancer procures to call the attention of the woman, to conquer it with his dances. Alfonso Zapater Cerdán, has always said that the jot is a flirt, affectionate conquest and a challenge also; with this are explained the blows and irregular postures, at the same time that the bravery.

Bibliography: * "Aragonesian Jot History" by Alfonso Zapater

* Manuel Tomé Bosqued.

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