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Beyond Salsa Piano - Instructional Series
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SpanishEnglishDiscography - Pa' que se entere La Habana - 6. Yuya la charanguera

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Yuya la Charanguera [click here for full lyrics]

Yuya la Charanguera", Sombrilla's first composition for CH and possibly his greatest vocal performance, departs from the hard-edged rap of "El Temba", and returns to the euphoric world of the first two albums. Careful examination of the chord progression and other musical ideas reveals a bit of repetition of some of the elements which made CH's early work so great. Indeed, lesser artists might have spent their entire careers repeating the magic of those first discs, but Calzado, who seems to be permanently welded to the cutting edge of pop music, has never stopped changing and progressing -- each CH disc, this one included, has forged ahead with considerable innovations and departures from its predecessors. "Yuya", on the other hand, while it might well be on "Hey You Loca", is just flat out beautiful. It's built around the familiar "I-bVII-IV-V" chord progression but the bloques, lyrics, and pure melodicism give this glorious track a special place in the work of CH.

The lyrics, based on the age old ploy of satirizing the stereotype of the gossiping female, are a perfect vehicle for Sombrilla, almost certainly Timba's greatest comedian. After a moderately challenging round of "Where's One?" (the first note of the piano comes on the second 16th note of the first beat), the vocals begin with a feigned telephone conversation between two local gossips, Yuya and Aída, with both roles played by Sombrilla. [audio example 23] Listen to the single carefully-placed synthesizer chord just after "¿me puede poner con Aída?" -- the kind of attention to detail found only in the most inspired pop music.

CH experimented less and less with clave structure with each subsequent album. The early hits, such as "Me Sube la Fiebre", "Para el Llanto" and "Extraños Ateos", were mazes of complex clave changes (see "Clave Changes in the Music of La Charanga Habanera" for more on this). But in the first five tracks of this album, we've yet to encounter a clave change. "Dime A" is 3:2 all the way through and the other four are all in 2:3, including the otherwise elaborate arrangement of "Nube Pasajera". The early CH used 2:3 for its cuerpos but favored 3:2 for the coros and mambos, resulting in all sorts of interesting and complicated clave changes, but in the mid to late 90's CH, and a number of other groups such as Manolín, Paulito and Issac, turned more and more to 2:3 clave as their bread and butter groove. "Yuya la Charanguera" looks back to the first two albums in its clave structure as well as its harmonies. This time, however, none of the changes invoke "clave license" and this chart would sound no alarms with "clave police" of the New York school of salsa arranging.

The introduction is based on the third coro ("cuídate de Yuya la Charanguera...te da la buena noche y después te vela") which is in 3:2. This results in the first clave change when the horns enter before the cuerpo [audio example 24]. Note that you can steadily clap 3:2 rumba clave and the earlier than expected entrance of the horns flips you around into 2:3.

One of the problems of Latin arranging, and one which is solved brilliantly here, is the tendency to have a jazzy horn intro, a mellow cuerpo and funky coros and mambos such that the arrangement ends up sounding like separate musical entities stitched together with the seams showing. But in "Yuya" they flow together beautifully. Listen to the way the horn intro returns at the end of the cuerpo. [audio example 25] Sombrilla's paraphrase of the common folkloric vocalization, "a le le le a le le le a a", is just one of the many inspired vocal moments in this track. This poignant and flexible little phrase has been used repeatedly in Timba with great results. At about the same time as this CD, Issac Delgado released "No Me Mires a Los Ojos" which uses the same phrase in a different context. [audio example 26]

The first coro ("termina ya, la persecución, que otra perseguidora se coló") stays in 2:3, and features a beautiful harmonic nuance which allows Sombrilla's four guías to sound even more melodic. Although all four coros are identical, the bass and piano change their progression beneath the third and fourth guías, allowing Sombrilla to borrow several Bb's from the minor scale, giving the last two guías an especially poignant quality ("búscate a otro loco como yo").[audio example 27]

The next audio example is among my favorite parts of the album for several reasons.[audio example 28] First of all, the change back to 3:2 clave is accomplished with one of the most creative and exciting bloques in all of Timba. Try clapping 2:3 rumba clave along with the horns and continue through the bloque and notice how beautifully it catches all the accents and lands very naturally in 3:2 as Sombrilla introduces the next coro section with another great extended lead. ("no es película de ficción, es una historia verdadera, la chica me perseguía, de día y la noche entera"). The comic timing is as perfect as the soulful melodic hooks, and the coro which follows is equally hilarious once you figure out what they're singing. ("con Yuya, la de la patrulla")

Wednesday, 23 March 2011, 03:31 AM