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From Colegio Público "Tucci". Martos (Jaén) SPAIN

The most famous Spanish serenading song

In the reception at Heinrich-Kraft-Schule, Frankfurt, some of my colleagues and friends ask me to teach them a Spanish song. I'm not particularly a good singer (in fact they were extemely patient with me) but I did my best with "Clavelitos".
This is a tribute to my German, Italian, Greek, Romanian and Spanish colleagues and friends in our Spring Meeting. Germany, May, 2003.
                                                                                 Eduardo Marín

“Clavelitos” is a very famous serenading song from Spain. It is frequently sung by groups of college students called "la Tuna".

"La Tuna" songs come from the Spanish 13th century tradition of serenading. La Tuna began when the noblemen of the 13th century sent their sons to college with a servant. The servants were given very little to eat and so they started singing for food and money. In fact, attached to the sleeves of the Tuno was a fork and spoon ready for any food they might receive. This group of servants was later replaced by the students themselves who receive either money from the person requesting the song or a ribbon or pin from the girl being serenaded.


Mocita dame el clavel,
Dame el clavel de tu boca,
Que pá eso no hay que tener
Mucha vergüenza ni poca.
Yo te daré el cascabel,
Te lo prometo mocita,
Si tu me das esa miel
Que llevas en la boquita. 

Clavelitos, clavelitos,
Clavelitos de mi corazón.
Hoy te traigo clavelitos
Colorados igual que un fresón.
Si algún día clavelitos
No lograra poderte traer,
No te creas que ya no te quiero,
Es que no te los pude traer.


La tarde que a media luz
Vi tu boquita de guinda,
Yo no he visto en Sta. Cruz
Otra mocita más linda.
Y luego al ver el clavel
Que llevabas en el pelo,
Mirándolo creí ver
Un pedacito de cielo.




Young girl, give me the carnation
Give me the carnation of your mouth
For this, there's no need for
Much embarrassment nor a little
I'll give you a bell
I promise it to you, young girl
If you give me that honey
That you carry in your mouth

Carnations, carnations
Carnations from my heart
I'll bring you carnations
Colored red like a strawberry
If one day, carnations
I won't be able to bring you
Don't think that I don't love you anymore
It'll just be that I couldn't bring them to you


mocita (from moza) - girl
clavel, clavelito carnation
mucha, mucho a lot, much
poca, poco a little
vergüenza - shame, shyness
cascabel - bell
das - give
miel - honey
boquita (from boca) - mouth
corazón - heart
colorado - red
lograr - to manage to
trae  - bring
coger - to pick
guinda - cherry (red)
pedazo - bit, piece

Los Tunos ("La Tuna" is their collective name) are societies of college students who, like their predecessors in the thirteenth century, don black velvet breeches, open-collared white shirts, and long black capes. The wide collar around their cloaks denotes their particular area of study; yellow for the medical school, red for law, purple for pharmacy and so on.

Originally known as "sopistas" (their symbol remains the wooden soupspoon and fork), for centuries these students have used their musical talents to earn money for schooling and a bite to eat. They play a wide variety of musical instruments from guitars and tambourines to the bandurria (basically a madonlin) and the laud, a kind of bass mandolin. Typically the Tunos play romantic ballads which have changed little over time and it's a safe bet you'll hear standards such as "Clavelitos" and "Compostelana".

No wonder that their first written evidence of La Tuna- a document dating from about 1300 and still held in the University of Lérida's archives- censures them for their immorality and prohibits their night-time serenades.

The capes worn by the Tunos are adorned with sometimes up to a dozen ribbons of different colours each one representing an amorous conquest. Today, there are around 35 bands of Tunos in Madrid and numerous others throughout the various big cities of Spain. La Tuna has also found its way to Central and South America as well as other European nations such as Portugal, Holland, Belgium, France, England, and Ireland. The usual number of students in a group varies a little, but is usually somewhere between 30-35.

Las Tunas still take their business quite seriously. There are strict and specific tryouts as well as initiation rituals. Once initiated into La Tuna, a member holds his allegiance for the rest of his life. And if, at any point, an old and decrepit tuno feels the urge to strap on the breeches and cape, dust off the old bandurria and carouse the streets in search of young ladies, he is immediately welcomed back into the fold.

Los Tunos are hard to miss. With the sartorial style of Jethro Tull and the romantic appeal of Don Juan, they appear without warning in plazas and celebrations. After working the crowd with a passionate song or two, they toss a tambourine around angling for a bit of charity as well as romantic attention, and they're gone.