Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
La Bamba (song)
La Bamba is a traditional song created in the Mexican state of Veracruz over 300 years ago. Influenced by Spanish flamenco and Afro-Cuban beats, the song utilizes the violin, jaranas , guitar, and harp; and is sung in falsetto. Lyrics to the song greatly vary, as performers often improvise verses while performing. However, versions (such as those by musical groups Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and Los Pregoneros del Puerto ) have survived due to the artists’ popularity and have become the “definitive” versions. The traditional aspect of La Bamba lies in the tune itself, which remains the same through all versions.
The traditional song inspired Ritchie Valens’ hit song “La Bamba” in the 1950s. Valens’ “La Bamba” infused the traditional tune with a rock beat, making the song accessible to the population of the United States and earning it (and Valens) a place in rock history. The song features simple verse-chorus form.
The traditional La Bamba was often played during weddings in Veracruz, where the bride and groom performed the accompanying dance. Today this wedding tradition is mostly lost, but the dance survives through the popularity of ballet folkórico . The dance is performed in much the same way, displaying the newlywed couple’s unity through the performance of complicated, delicate steps in unison as well as through creation of a bow from a rebozo (essentially a shawl) using only their feet.
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