Traditional Music There are all types of traditional music, from all different countries. I chose to work with a song that will be familiar to everyone: La Bamba
What do you think of when you hear “La Bamba”? Possible answers:
Richie Valens; rock and roll
Los Lobos (who sang it in the 1987 movie La Bamba about Richie Valens’ life)
A traditional wedding song
The only song not sung in English on Rolling Stone’s magazine list of the 500 Greatest songs of all time (#345)
Weird Al Yankovic parody called Lasagna?
The anthem of the Liverpool football club (with adapted lyrics)
The fact that people/groups as diverse as The Sandpipers, Trini Lopez, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, Wyclef Jean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a Japanese ska band called Yum Yum Orange have all recorded it?
Play the song
Fascinating facts about La Bamba.
This song was created in the state of Veracruz, Mexico over 300 years ago.
It officially is not a song but a “son”…a musical variation which includes the tradition of creating verses on the spot by whomever may be singing.
The song is in a very simple verse/chorus form, with literally a thousand different verses.
There is no literal translation in English for La Bamba, it is assumed to be connected with the Spanish verb “bambolear” meaning to shake.
The traditional “La Bamba” was played during weddings, where the bride and groom performed the accompanying dance. This tradition continues today in the famed Ballet Folklórico, where the dancers perform a series of complicated steps demonstrating the unison of the couple through the creation of a bow from a long red ribbon, using only their feet.
The repeated phrase: Yo no soy marinero…meaning I am not a sailor: to be interpreted that unlike a sailor, the husband will remain faithful to his wife. Fits in with the marine locale of Veracruz
The repeated “arribas” literally meaning “Up”, are the part of the song that suggest the nature of the dance, which is all in the footwork…..done faster and faster as the music accelerates. The footwork is known as Zapateado
How to work with the song
Have the students listen first; you might want to show them some target words:
Later these words can be put together to create associations and clusters of words. You also could just give them the English words for the above 5 and ask them to listen for the Spanish equivalent
Ask them what they think the song is about
Did they recognize any words
Can they tell if the song is happy, sad, etc.
Use a worksheet with missing lyrics (the target words above) or a worksheet that has many words and they must circle the words actually in the song; or give them the complete lyrics
Work with the pronunciation, the vocabulary or a grammatical concept:
the use of NO for NOT and it’s location in the Spanish sentence is a good one: