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A Cinco de Mayo gig of sorts....

Posted by fiddlepogo on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Once a month, I play at a convalescent hospital for their "ice cream social" event. Usually I do an Old Time and Country-folk based performance with some Stephen Foster thrown in for good measure.

I'd used that formula a bunch of times, but last month for variety, I did sort of a musical tour of Western Europe... Scottish, English, French, and German folk tunes, both on fiddle and as songs... oh yeah, I was going to do some Italian tunes, but I misplaced them, and did Hawaiian songs instead!!! Oh well, so much for consistency!  The month before I did Irish-themed stuff for St. Paddy's Day.

This month, the ice cream social just happens to fall on Cinco de Mayo, and the activities director wondered if I couldn't do some Cinco de Mayo themed stuff for at least part of the hour, since they have some Mexican residents but can never afford to hire any real mariachis- they're all busy on Cinco de Mayo and are getting paid a whole lot more than I am.

So far, I've been thinking of:

Las Mananitas (probably on fiddle)

La Cucaracha (fiddle)

La Raspa (fiddle)

El Jarabe Tapatio (fiddle- these two are the medley for the "Mexican Hat Dance".)

Cielito Lindo  (probably on fiddle from sheet music- it's the only way I can get the rather complex timing right.)

El Rancho Grande (probably as a song, but it fiddles really nicely too!)

La Llorona (as a song- great tune, it's like a flamenco waltz!!!).

Also maybe a couple of Spanish hymn tunes that Mexican Catholics are likely to know, and Mexican children's songs to pad it out.

Maybe even Tijuana Taxi (my dad had a Herb Alpert album when I was a teenager!)

And then American cowboy songs for the rest of the performance.

It's been frustrating though- I've known El Jarabe Tapatio and PART of La Raspa for the longest time- I didn't realize until a couple of nights ago they were distinct tunes that are always medleyed for Mexican Hat Dance. The part I was missing to La Raspa was easy enough to learn. But Jarabe Tapatio has a more complex melody that I've never been able to play as fast as it needs to be played.

Also, I've had a hard time coming up with any on-line sheet music- I found the notes for Cielito Lindo on a GERMAN website!!!

Also, the Mexican music I really like is the OLD stuff- really old folk tunes and old mariachi material- but it's stuff that doesn't get played much anymore, and is hard to find on-line.  I want stuff that's the Mexican equivalent of Red River Valley and Tennessee Waltz.

Tonight, the night before the gig, I had a Eureka moment- I've been trying to play them in the key of G which is normally an easy fiddle key.

BUT Mariachi music features trumpets, which are Bb instruments... and if the trumpets were playing easy reading sheet music in C, the fiddles would have to play along in Bb (I THINK that's how it works.

So I tried most of the tunes in Bb and maybe Eb... and all of a sudden they just play better and sound RIGHT- but it's the night before the gig and maybe a little too late to change them without guaranteeing left hand trainwrecks tomorrow!

Maybe Jarabe Tapatio will be ready in Bb for NEXT year!!!


At least it's low pressure- the activities director is really mellow, and will be happy for ANYTHING I can come up with, because up to now, they've had zip, zilch, NADA!!!

4 comments on “A Cinco de Mayo gig of sorts....”

The Pretzel Says:
Friday, May 7, 2010 @9:13:38 PM

It sounds like you put together a neat show. How did it turn out?

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, May 7, 2010 @11:00:15 PM

Well, I think the people enjoyed it, but I wasn't very happy with it.
A couple of the tunes went pretty well... others not so well.
I think the switch to Bb for some of the tunes was ill-advised without a lot more practice.
The guitar and singing went much better. And the patter went fine, I usually do pretty well with that.
And towards the end I moved "north of the border" to American cowboy songs which go over well.

WoodshopFiddler Says:
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 @5:03:34 AM

I don't know how much help it would be now but there are several "Southwestern Tunes" on this site close to the bottom of the page. Most have notation and a midi. Some even have an actual recording to learn from.

fiddlepogo Says:
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 @9:37:40 PM

Thanks, maybe it'll help me be more prepared for next year!

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