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Lady Lullaby Blog

Lullabies for babies, grown-ups and everyone in between!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tamales For St. Peter





As my four-year-old granddaughter and I were excitedly waiting for her very first ballet class at the YMCA to begin--purple leotard, pink tights in place---a young man was leaving the room after working out. He asked about the class, and then pulled out his cell phone to show me a picture of his beautiful six-month old daughter. “She’ll be dancing soon too,” he said proudly.

Because it’s what I do, I asked if he sings lullabies to his daughter.

“Oh yes,” he said, “I sing her lullabies in Spanish---the songs my mother sang to me when I was a baby in Mexico.”

“Perfect!” I replied. And it is. This is a wonderful and important gift to a child, passing along the songs of the previous generations.

Spotlight on Music agrees: “Apart from their obvious entertainment value, children's songs and games are often important vehicles for cultures to transmit important knowledge to next generation. Song lyrics or game actions might provide models for cultural customs or family and other social relationships.”

And like my new friend, families migrate, and the culture and the music of the new place will have an influence on the music that the immigrant brings to his new home. This is the nature of our global societies, and it will create new and exciting forms of music.

Similarly, music travels even when people don’t. In Mexico, for instance, because of the cultural influence of the United States, translations of children's songs from English to Spanish have become a part of the children’s music. Songs like "Itzi, bitzi arena" ("The Itsy, Bitsy Spider") and "Estrellita" ("Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star") are as popular in that Mexico as they are in the US.

Our job, in the midst of all this blending of cultures, is to also keep our cultural traditions strong by preserving the integrity of the precious songs that should be passed along to future generations. If you sing the songs that you heard as a child, your child will too.

There are hundreds of beautiful Mexican lullabies, but one of my favorites is “Arriba Del Ciela” (Above Heaven)

This lullaby has many elements. It tells a story about St. Peter wanting tamales, has some nonsense lullaby syllables to hush the baby to sleep, and then it gets to the bottom line:  “Go to sleep because I have chores to do!” Like in many lullabies, the sublime, the humorous, and the practical meet, as the mother gets a chance to dream, be playful, and then comes back to reality. In this version, though, we also have the child afraid that the parents will sell her/him to buy money for food---perhaps this is a common childhood fear, or perhaps it’s a sad nod to a world where such things really happen.

Here is a beautiful video of Claudia Martinez singing “Arriba Del Cielo”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IdBEFtv5M_c

Above heaven they make tamales
Above heaven they make tamales
San Pedro heard about that and he ordered to bring the real ones
San Pedro heard about that and he ordered to bring the real ones
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
sleep lovely baby boy
sleep lovely baby boy
sleep lovely baby boy because I have things to do
sleep lovely baby boy because I have things to do
to whash your
 cloth diapers and go to sew
to whash your cloth diapers and go to sew
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
sleep lovely baby boy
sleep lovely baby boy
My dad and mom want to sell me
My dad and mom want to sell me
in exchange for chile and tomatoes that they want to eat
in exchange for chile and tomatoes that they want to eat
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
To the rorrun baby to the rorrun now
sleep lovely baby boy
sleep lovely baby boy

Arriba del cielo hicieron tamales
Arriba del cielo hicieron tamales
Lo supo San Pedro y mandó a traer los reales
Lo supo San Pedro y mandó a traer los reales
A la rorrun niño a la rorron cha
A la rorrun niño a la rorron cha
Duermete niñito de mi corazón
Duermete niñito de mi corazón
Duermete niñito que tengo que hacer
Duermete niñito que tengo que hacer
Lavar tus pañales, y ponerme a coser
Lavar tus pañales, y ponerme a coser
A la rorrun niño a la rorron cha
A la rorrun niño a la rorron cha
Duermete niñito de mi corazón
Duermete niñito de mi corazón
Mi papa y mi mama me quieren vender
Mi papa y mi mama me quieren vender
Por chile y tomates que quieren comer
Por chile y tomates que quieren comer
A la rorron niño a la rorron ya
A la rorron niño a la rorron ya
Duermete niñito de mi corazón
Duermete niñito de mi corazón


Sweet Dreams,
Jane


1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

This is the nature of our global societies, and it will create new and exciting forms of music. lullaby-babies.co.uk

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