MUSIC from the ANDES...and nearby regions    Español
 

 

Notes by Paul Farren of the performing group ACHALAY in London.

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AL POBRE - Zulma Yugar//Bolivia (TUMI CD 059) 

CARRIPUYO TORRECITO - Rumillajta//Bolivia (TUMI CAS 83X1934)
The name of this group means "city of stone" in Quechua. This is a huayno and could hardly be more Bolivian in character. The tone of voice of the singer is typically Bolivian.  Rumillajta appears all over the world; they make a point of making all their own instruments.

ZAMBA de la TOLDERIA - Los Cantores de Quilla Huasi//Argentina (Philips P 08208L)
The zamba is the national dance of Argentina; they write zambas about about everything, from love to politics. There's even one called "Aerolineas Argentinas". This is a very powerful song remembering times (similar to the days of the covered wagons in the USA) when they had to build stockades and fight the Indians. The song mentions lanzas y boleadoras (lances and bolases), women stolen by the Indians, and burning farms - but then says that gradually, due to intermixing, we became coppery like the earth. The chorus says "I gave my blood to the soil. like the gaucho in the forts; that's why my song has the sound of trumpet-calls".

QUIEN HA QUERIDO - Savia Andina//Bolivia 

POLO MARGARITEÑO - Soledad Bravo//Venezuela (Buda B000001N7S)
Also a great version on YouTube with Luciana Mancini

"
This song has got feeling, understanding and truth
that flows between the instrument and the listener.

Look at this iris eaten by the weather
and there's a spring which enables it to grow.
You are the iris, give me your scent I am the spring, let me flow.

The imprisoned bird doesn't sing as it does in the sky or calm sea.
In chains, it's song is of agony
As long as you insist on keeping it. 

What will I do alone in the fields
I neither fall in love, nor sing
I neither sing, nor fall in love.

The breeze sighs from afar and opens a cocoon in a white rose.
The worm emerges from a silken prison and changes into a lovely butterfly." 

OJOS AZULES - Inti-Illimani//Bolivia (DICAP VC 00703)
Composed by Gilberto Rojas

LA FLOR del PAPA - Cesar Isella con Las Rustas del Cuzco//Peru (Philips 80104 PL)
Cesar Isella was a founder-member of the great Argentine group Los Fronterizos. Having decided on a solo career, he did a tour of Latin America, making records in various countries. Here he is in Peru doing a Peruvian huayno. It's a saucy song where the boyfriend/girlfriend is likened to various types of flower.

LA PAMPA - Carmen Guzmán//Argentina (Philips P08208L)
Carmen Guzman wrote, sang and accompanied this lovely milonga campera. I imagine she recorded it at least 35 years ago. Last year, she sent me her latest CD, so she is still making beautiful music.

AMORES HALLARÁS - Los Calchakis//Ecuador (United Artists UNS 15561)
Instrumental albazo from Ecuador.

DESDE QUE TE FUISTE//Peru (Ascat AM 28019-2)
When the Peruvians cottoned on to the waltz, they did something wonderful to it: they played it not in 3/4 but in 6/8 time, thus giving themselves scope for all kinds of syncopations. The title of this vals peruano is "Since You Left".

POR PECHO NO-OFENSA y AMOR - Angel Loyola y sus Guariqueños//Venezuela
A Venzuelan joropo (the national dance).

TAITA SALASACA - Inti-Illimani//Ecuador (DICAP VC 0703)
Ecuadorean song which says "Taita Salasaca" (Taita means father) how happily you walk along the chaquinales (path), without seeing the thorns. He explains that el patron (landlord or boss) Sevilla has offered his Longa (young woman) in marriage offering a huasipungo (little farm or piece of land) and calf as her dowry. His ñaño (brother) Faustito is waiting for the response to his petition. Listen to the solo on the rondador, the national instrument of Ecuador. It's a panpipe so made that one can play harmonies on it...possibly the only panpipe of this type in the world.

LA BAGUALA - El Faustin Argentino//Argentina (BMG BM 650)
The oddly-named troupe ("The Argentine Faust") typify what is best on the Argentine folk-music scene: an ability to perform in a modern way, using ordinary concert instruments, yet remaining 100% faithful to the folk roots of the music. Here they are performing "live" in a theatre in Paris.

CON SENTIMENTO PROFUNDO - Florencio Oros//Bolivia (ANS 12101-2)
A very attractive Bolivian huaiño played as a solo on the charango. In  case anyone still doesn't know, this is a small ten-stringed instrument made not of wood, but of the shell of an armadillo. The story is that the Andean indians liked the guitars (brought by the conquistadores). As they lived above the tree-line,  wood was hard to come by, but armadillos were not. When I played with the group Achalay, our English audiences were always intrigued by the charango, and we'd tell them (with straight faces) that armadillos were a protected species in Bolivia, but not in Peru, so if you stood on the border you could be run over by hordes of fleeing armadillos.

TROVA DE AMOR - Alpamayo//Peru (EUCD 1220)
A beautiful love-song (the singer is so sad at the end of a great love affair, his guitar weeps tears). Not only is the melody very Peruvian, the way the guitars answer the singers is very Peruvian and the coda at the end - a different tune - in which the singers sum up their feelings is totally Peruvian. Alpamayo is made up of Peruvians, Bolivians and Ecuadoreans.  Their particular thing is to have someone playing the melody throughout the song, playing tremolo on a "mandolina" (sometimes called "bandolina"). Looking back to the charango, this is made from much larger armadillo shells. Listen out for this, as it has a beautiful effect.

KALANCHITO - Savia Andina//Bolivia

POR EL CAMINO PELA'O/PAJARILLO - Huascar Barradas y Maracaibo//Venezuela (AV 4518)
First a Venzuelan joropo, then Pajarillo, one of the basic styles of song from the "llano" (plains) region. In the Pajarillo there are solos by the harp and the 4-stringsed bandola.

K'ARALLANTA - Boliviamanta//Bolivia
K'arallanta is a little flower which grows in the rocky heights of the Andes. As the song says: With the wind and the cold, I still manage to stay green.  The song is sung mainly in the Aymara language.The name "Boliviamanta" is Quechua and can mean either "from Bolivia" of "Made in Bolivia". The group actually contains people from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador and is probably the the same basic line-up as Alpamayo. Please note again how the mandolina plays in tremolo throughout the piece giving the group a marvelously unified sound.

FÚLIA ORIENTAL - Convenezuela//Venezuela (TH 102-07406)
Although described as a fulia from the state of Orientes, if you've ever heard Canary Islands music, you'll know where this originated. The words are about a religious parade:
"Son los angeles del cielo
Que están bajando la cruz
Delante lleva una luz
Para alumbrar el camino
Ellos llevan su destino
Camino de Galilea
Donde la gente los vea
Y se queden admirados
Al ver los niños cargando
Al Santisimo Madero
Y para seguir cantando
Echen carato pa' fuera"
But never mind the words....what great mandoline-playing!

LAMENTO del INDIO - Inti-Illimani//Ecuador (DICAP VC 0703)
"
Los arados, los sembrios, las cosechas y su amor
Dan al indio en este mundo alegría en su dolor.

Por dondequiera que se vaya toca el triste rondador
Porque en su alma hay sólo pena, sufrimiento y gran dolor.

Ploughing, sowing, harvesting and his love
Give the indian, in this world, a little joy in his sorrow."

Wherever he goes, he plays his sad rondador
Because his soul is full of pain, suffering and sadness.

PÁJARO CAMPANA - Ignacio Alderette//Paraquay (Decca PFS 34006)
The most famous solo for Paraguayan harp, also known as "The Bell Bird" and, in the beautiful Guaraní language of Paraquay, "Güirá Tupí". There are scores of versions of this, but to my ears, this is the best.

EL AGUACERAL - Trio Los Dávalos//Peru (Festival FLD 169 S)
"The Rainstorm" - This song is in the rhythm of the Peruvian marinera. There's a storm brewing and the singer thinks he knows of a cave where they can shelter, so he tells his mule to hurry so that his sweetheart doesn't get wet.

SACSAYHUAMANPI - Boliviamanta//Peru (AV 4504)
An old Peruvian song about the famous Inca ruined fortress of Sacsayhuaman (which sounds remarkably like "sexy woman"), just outside Cuzco. That mandolina is busy again.

QUEJA INDIANA - Guillermo de la Roca y conjunto//Ecuador (EPM 999513)
This can be translated as "Complaint of the Indian", presumably a protest, not a stomach ache. A typically Ecuadorean piece.

SELECCIÓN de BAILECITOS - Oscar Grajeda y "Surcos Folklóricos"// Bolivia
The bailecito is a beautiful, gentle dance from Bolivia and N. Argentina. The men wear those woolen hats with earflaps (chullos) and the women wear the hats which we English call "bowler hat" and the Americans call "derby", shawls and skirts over several layers of petticoats.  The bailecito usually has three verses, but it's common to put three different ones together, as this set played by a Bolivian group led by a brilliant pianist.

BLANCA AZUCENA - Sylvia Infanta con Los Baqueanos//Chile (PMC 1104)
"The White Lily"- Typical Chilean cueca (the national dance).  The words aren't terribly meaningful, but in between the first and second parts the man says "I'm the Chilean huaso (cowboy): treat me alright and everything's fine. Rub me up the wrong way and....we'll say no more." The woman says that she is a typicial Chilean woman, full of love, who doesn't know what it is to be unfaithful and only wants to dance the cueca with her man. This very famous group gave itself a bad name by praising Pinochet to the skies during that creature's regime.

¡NUNCA MÁS! - Susana Lagos y orquesta de Jose Luis Castiñeira de Dios//Argentina
"Never Again" - From the soundtrack of the Argentine film "La Amiga" in which the Swedish (!) actress Liv Ulmann plays a woman of Buenos Aires whose best friend (the amiga of the title) spends the whole "Dark Age" of the military regime in Berlin, whereas Live Ulmann's character stays in Bs.As. and sees every kid of horror. When the friend returns to Bs.As., the friendship is broken forever.  The film ends with Liv Ulmann sitting on a jetty in the port of Bs.As. looking out to sea, which is why you hear watery sounds, and as the titles roll, this music is played. I recorded it direct from the TV set. I think this is the most powerful protest song I've ever heard, and it is 100% Argentine. She sings of the disappeared sons and daughters, killed for the sake of the ambition of bad rulers, of things she has seen and can never forget. But when her voice rises almost to a scream of anguish "it isn't vengeance, but JUSTICE I want for the dead of our people" it always brings me to tears. Finally she sings "Never Again....that which my eyes have seen I cannot forget. Never Again....that which my eyes have seen I don't want to forget". (If anyone out there knows of a recording of this, or of anything by Jesus Luis de Casteneiros) PPLLEEAASSEE let me know!

LONGUITA - Los Corazas//Ecuador
"Young Girl" - A very popular Ecuadorean song. First played on harp, then they whistle it! - saves a fortune buying instruments!

MI TIERRA - M.Acosta Villafane (El Trovador del Norte)//Argentina (RCA Vic AVL-3388)
A bailecito done in the Argentine style. This very traditional and is how Argentine music sounded before everyone started to sign up with agents and became sophisticated.

VAI, AZULAO and BOI BOMBA - Sali Terry with Laurindo Almeida//Brazil (Capitol DP8406)
Two Brazilian songs: American singer with Brazilian guitarist.

POLO MARGARITEÑO - Federico Reyna y su familia//Venezuela
The polo is the song native to Margarita Island, Venezuela. Polos often tell of disaster of sea, as - until the recent tourist boom - the main industry was fishing. The singer is Tatyana Reyna accompanied by her father Fredy Reyna, who is very famous as a composer and player of the cuatro in Venezuela, her brother Fredy junior on guitar and brother Mauricio on maracas. I owe these people a lot, as - when they lived in London - Fredy senior and junior taught me a lot of music and gave me a lot of encouragement when I was just starting to play.

LA ORGULLOSA and CHACARERA del ZORRO//Argentina (Philips 82097PL)
Two Argentine pianists: Miguel Angel Trejo of the old school playing a traditional zamba called "The Proud Woman" and 'El Cuchi' Leguizamon playing "Chacarera of the Frog" in a modern style.

YERBA SILVESTRE - M. Portocarrero//Peru


From Mexico

LA PETENERA - Los Defines//Mexico (DIMSA ML-8105)
All Mexican groups do this song, so it has become a custom to make up your own final verse. Our group was going to play a date one evening, and I played this record in my car. A Chilean member of the group said "Did you hear what they sang?"...he was obviously shocked. My Spanish is better now, and I can translate for you: "Cuando se muera mi suegra, voy a hacer una escalera.....para bajar a su tumba y escupir su calavera." "When my mother-in-law dies, I'm going to make myself a ladder....so that I can go down into her grave and spit on her skull!"  Delightful!!!

LA NEGRA - Mariachi Mexico//Mexico (Musart D276)
Probably the best-known song in the repertoire of Mexico's famous mariachi bands. There is controversy over the origin of the name "mariachi". The explanation I favour is this: during the 19th century, Mexican society was strongly influenced by all things French.  It was the custom to hire bands to play at wedding celebrations. "Wedding" in French is "un mariage", so it is likely the bands which played for "un mariage" became known as "mariachi".

 

 

 
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