Never heard that one...I love a waltz on a fiddle.
Over the Waves! I'd never even thought about playing it but I just figured I'd try it when it came up here. Because of all the chromatic runs it's not exactly an Old Time style tune, but my fingers soon got the hang of it. I have no idea as to what the "proper" key is for the tune so I just did it in my most comfortable one -- D. Lovin' it!
"Over the Waves" was written by Juventino Rosas, a Mexican, and first published (at least in the US) in 1895 in the key of G. Interesting that it became such a standard for old time fiddlers.
Edited by - DougD on 08/04/2022 03:01:17
Jimmy in the Swamp. It was the last tune at the session we had last night.
Some of us are finally playing together again. YEA!!! Planning on regular weekly sessions. And I talked them into joining me at the Farmers Market at the Court House Square next Saturday for a few hours. No gig - an invasion. They can run us off - if they don't want the music.
Here's an article I wrote about Rosas for the Dallas Old Time Jam group.
Sobre las Olas
Waltzes are typically associated with composers from Germany and Austria. After all, "waltz" is a German word. Mexican composer, Juvenito Rosas, helped to popularize the waltz worldwide. His most famous waltz was Sobre las olas published in 1888 when he was only 20 years old. The tune was so popular in Europe that it was even attributed to the Waltz King himself, Johann Strauss II!
Rosas was born on January 25, 1868 in Santa Cruz, Guanajuato Mexico. His family was Otomi', one of the many indiginous people in Mexico. His musical life started as a street musician in Mexico City. He became so proficient in playing the violin that at the age of 15, he became first violinist for a touring opera company. He composed salon music that included waltzes, schottishes, mazurkas, polkas and more.
In 1884 Rosas composed a suite of waltzes, of which Sobre las Olas was one. He and his band performed this piece to much popular acclaim at the world's fair (World Cotton Centenniel) in New Orleans that same year. The piece was published in Mexico City 4 years later.
In 1893 he joined an orchestra that toured the US and even played at the Columbian Exposition and World's Fair in Chicago. In 1894, while on a tour with another touring band in Cuba, he fell ill and died at the age of 26.
Most folks in this country associate the tune, Sobre las olas, with ice skating, circuses, and trapeze artists. Wulitzer even sold a line of fairground organs for which Sobre las Olas was one of the available tunes. The tune is still very popular today and is in the repertoire of almost every old time and country fiddler. In fact, musicologists call this tune one of the most popular fiddle tunes in modern history.
What is this tune Sobre las olas? You likely know it by its English name, Over the Waves.
Here's a link to an early recording of the tune as he orchestrated it..
So, the next time you play Over the Waves, imagine sitting beside a river near Mexico City and the young, 15 year-old composer who was inspired by the rolling waves of the water.
For Spanish language film buffs, there's a 1950 biographical movie about Rosas entitled "Sobre las Olas". Here's a link to a scene where Rosas conducts this piece. Rosas is played by Pedro Infante who himself, according to IMDb, was an outstanding musician in his own right and a big star in Mexico.
One of my favorite fiddlers, Clark Kessinger, plays what is probably the definitive version (in my opinion!) of Over the Waves.
Want something a bit different? Here's the Duke of Dixieland playing Over the Waves.
Thanks Kirk. I've always associated that tune with Clark Kessinger, although I knew it was composed by Rosas.
Rosas story is a sad one in many ways. First, was the belief that a young, indigenous Mexican could not write such an expressive and popular piece of music. This was apparently one of the reasons that it took 4 years to find a publisher. The second was his very short life. He was traveling with an orchestra in Cuba when he became very sick and apparently was not able to get appropriate care.
And, even into the 20th Century, there was a bias against playing "Mexican" music, but this tune became a staple because of its ubiquitousness around circuses and theaters across the country. It's no wonder that fiddlers picked it up.
My Dad, born in central Texas near Waco in 1915, played this on the harmonica, but I don't think that he was ever aware of its origin. He was fluent in Spanish (both Tex-Mex and Castillian), though. I never heard him talk about the origin of the tune, other than it was very popular during his childhood.
Thanks, Kirk. What a fun musical trip!
'Bow direction' 1 day
'Boll Weevil' 3 days
'The Black rogue' 4 days
'Favorite Songs in D' 4 days