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Songs of Old Mexico

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Michael Montgomery writes: It has been my pleasure to work for several years now with a student bass quartet comprised of pre-teen bassists of Mexican descent. Due to the fact that the four of them have been consistent in their practice and rehearsals and audience response to their public performances has been heartwarming, I felt moved to find a way to embellish their repertory with something that could reflect their heritage. I decided to arrange for them five well known traditional folk songs which I believe reflect strongly the character of the Mexican culture.

1, Cielito Lindo
In Hispanic circles the phrase "Mi Cielo" (My Sky) is used often as a term of endearment, and this song title might be loosely translated as "Lovely Sweet One". Even though the song's origins have been traced back to the 1700s with references to the feared bandits of the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain, Mariachi bands long ago laid claim to this song, and it is today thought of internationally as the theme song of Mexico.

2. Las Mañanitas
A staple of Mexican folk repertory, one can expect this piece to be sung as the cake is cut at any typical Mexican birthday party. This particular song also plays an important role in the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is observed each December 12th. The vigil that takes place on the evening before is traditionally marked by an elaborate concert in many of the big churches, and Las Mañanitas, often sung by a famous Mexican artist, is perhaps the most anticipated song of the night.

3. La Adelita
The origins of this well known folk song can be found in the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900s. The lyrics recount the story of a woman from Durango who follows the movement of (and in fact falls in love with) the revolutionary leader Francisco Madero. It is today associated with the many courageous women for fought for the cause of the revolution in this crusade.

4. La Cucaracha
The lyrics of this song describe a cockroach who can no longer walk correctly because he has lost one of his hind legs, a symbolic criticism of a political leader. Apparently there is great difficulty in dating this song due to the immense number of verses that are associated with it (it would seem that history offers us no shortage of political leaders deserving our criticism), some of which date back as far as the Spanish defeat of the Moors in 1492. Be that as it may, the greatest number of verses seems to be associated with the Mexican Revolution of the early 1900s, and this song has become entrenched firmly in the Mexican tradition.

5. Jarabe Tapatío
Emerging as a dance form in the late 1700s, the "jarabe" was especially popular in the central and southern parts of Mexico, and remained so into the early 1900s. The people of Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, have acquired the nickname "Tapatio", a word taken from the name for a monetary unit used in pro-Columbian times in that area. The song Jarabe Tapatio is closely associated with the Mariachi music that evolved in the Guadalajara vicinity, and even today every school child learns this tune.

[Programme notes by Michael Montgomery]

Double bassist Michael Montgomery, a student of Robert Rohe and Lucas Drew, has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, played in the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra for many years, and now lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, where he teaches at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and the Suzuki Music School of Arkansas. His articles have been published in American Suzuki Journal, Bass World, and Pastoral Music.


  • 1. Cielito Lindo
  • 2. Las Mananitas
  • 3. La Adelita
  • 4, La Cucaracha
  • 5. Jarabe Tapatio (Mexican Hat Dance)
Cat No. RM870
Supplier Code RM870
ComposerMichael Montgomery
CategoryDouble Bass Quartet
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level5 - 8
ISMN 979-0-57045-870-7
EAN-13 9790570458707
Weight 160 grams
Published 17th November 2015
Availability OUT OF PRINT.
Unavailable - sorry!
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RM795  A Finland Suite (DOUBLE BASS SOLO)
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