Trova Yucateca

Songs of Yucatan

Robert Garfias

The tradition of songs in Yucatan is something quite different from what one finds in the rest of Mexico. Due in great measure to the Yucatan peninsula's separation from the rest of Mexico and its distinct history a unique culture has developed here. The word to describe the body of traditional songs of Yucatan is trova, however, unlike other places in Latin America and Spain where the term refers to improvisation of couplets, frequently in the decima form, in Yucatan the songs are no longer improvised but come from a large body of traditional songs, mostly composed in the early 20th Century. The composers of all the songs and creators of the lyrics are all know. The two dominant forms are the clave and bambuco, both of which appear to have been introduced from Colombia. The third most used form is the bolero introduced from contact with Cuba.

A recent vist to Yucatan (January 2011) prompted me to revisit my old Lps of songs of Yucatan.   These were all produced in the 1960s in Mexico and are no longer available anywhere to my knowledge.  All are sung by Saul Martinez, a singer who specialized in the songs of Yucatan but who also recorded a number of songs from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Many of the Yucatan songs he sings are associated with the Yucatecan singer, Guty Cardenas, who recorded in the l ate 1920's until his tragic death at 26 in 1932. Cardenas is even today regarded as a local hero in Yucatan. On most of the Yucatan songs recorded by Saul Martinez, Chalin Cámara, a friend and cohort of Guty Cardenas, provides the accompanying second voice.  I share these old recordings here because to me they represent the limpid clarity and elegance of the Yucatan Trova perfectly.


Saul Martinez                                  Guty Cardenas (in the rear) in Yucatan 1925. Chalin Camara on the right.


Songs of Ricardo Palmerin - Saul Martinez with Chalin Cámara, Panchito Duarte, Juarez H. Garcia and Armando Vargas

1. Peregrina - Cancion (The Pilgrim)

A song composed in honor of Alma Reed (1889-1966), an American journalist who championed the Yucatecan cause.

2. Yo se de un Ave - Clave   (I Know of a Bird)

3. Novia Envidiada - Bambuco  (Envied Love)

4. Como una Estrella - Bolero (Like a Star)

5. Crucifijo - Bambuco  (Crucifix)

6. Flores de Mayo - Clave (Flowers of May)

7. El Rosal Enfermo - Bambuco (The Sickened Rose Bush)

8. Rosalinda - Bambuco

9. Semejanzas - Bambuco (Similarities)

10. En el Fuego de tus Ojos - bolero (In the fire of your eyes)

11. Claveles - Bambuco (Carnations)

12. Las Golondrinas - Habanera ( The Swallows)

Recordando a Guty Vol I  Saul Martinez with Chalin Cámara, and Armando Vargas

1. Golondrina Viajera - Clave (Wandering Swallow)

2. Mi Cancion Quisiera - Bambuco (My Song would wish)

3. Un Rayito de Sol - Clave (A Ray of Sunlight)

4. Me Ire Soñando - Clave  (I would go on Dreaming)

5. Fondo Azul - Bolero (Blue Depth)
6. Blanca Rosa - Clave (White Rose)

7. Dile a tus Ojos - Clave  (Tell your Eyes)

8. A Que Negar - Bolero (Why Deny)

9. Yo Pienso en Ti - Clave (I Think of You)

10. Pasion - Bolero (Passion)
11. Si Yo Pudiera - Danzón (If I Could)

12. Yo Quiero Ser - Clave (I wish to be)

Recordando a Guty Vol II  Saul Martinez with Chalin Cámara, and Armando Vargas

1.  Nunca - Clave - (Never)
2.  Ella - Bolero - (She)
3.  Beso Asesino - Clave (Assasin Kiss)

4.  El Rosal Enfermo - Bambuco (The Sickened Rose Bush)

5.  Ojos tristes - Clave  (Sad Eyes)

6.  Son tus Ojos Negros - Clave (It is your Black Eyes)
7.   Flor - Clave  (Flower)
8.   Peregrina - Cancion (The Pilgrim)
9.   Desden - Bolero  (Disdain)
10.   Manos de Armiño -Clave (Hands of Musk)

11.  Presentimiento - Bolero   (Presentiment)
12.   Pajaro Azul - Bolero-Clave (Blue Bird)

Recordando a Guty Vol III  Saul Martinez with Chalin Cámara, and Armando Vargas

1.  Negra Linda - Bolero (Beautiful Dark Woman)
2.  El Pensil y la Rosa - Bambuco (The Beautiful Garden and the Rose)
3.  Fuiste una Estrellita Blanca - Clave (You were a Little White Star)
4.  Confesion - Bolero (Confession)
    This was written by the Cuban composer, SIndo Garay
5.  Mañanita - Clave (Morning)
6.  Otoños en Flor - Bolero (Autumns in Bloom)
7.  Un Granito de Sal - Clave  (a Little Grain of Salt)
8.  Pensamiento - Clave (Pansy (Thought))
9.  Menudita - Cancion  (Slender Girl)
10. Corazón de Marmol  Clave (Heart of Marble)
11. Peregrino de Amor - Clave  (Wandering Pilgrim of Love)
12. Muchachita Loca - Bambuco  (Crazy Little Girl)

Trobador del Recuerdo   Saul Martinez with Chalin Cámara, and Armando Vargas

1. Los-Mirlos - Bambuco (The Blackbirds)
2. Una Cancion de mi Vida - Bambuco (A Song of my Life)
3.  Flores-del-Pasado - Clave (Flowers of the Past)
4.  Ausencia - Bambuco (Absence)
5.  Como Petalo de Flor - Bambuco (Like the Petal of a Flower)
6.  Paloma - Bambuco (Dove)

7.  Lirio Azul - Bambuco (Blue Iris)
8.   Rosa de Francia - Bambuco (French Rose)
9.  Mi Ensueno - Bambuco (My Dream)
10. Noche de Plenilunio - Bambuco (Night of Full Moon)
11. Margarita - Bambuco (Daisy)
12. Hay un Beso - Bambuco (There is a Kiss)
13. Desdeñosa - Clave (Disdainful one)
14. Luz de Luna - pasillo (Light of the Moon)
15. A esos ojos - Son-Oaxaqueña (To Those Eyes)
16. Mi  Rival - Vals (My Rival)
17. Bendito Minuto - Bambuco (Blessed Minute)
18. Nayla - Habanera
19. En el Tronco de un Arbol - Bolero (In the Trunk of a Tree)
20. Sombras - Pasillo (Shadows)
21. Salina Cruz - Son Istmeño
22. Viejo Catecismo - Bolero (The Old Catechism)
23. Paisanita - Son-Istmeño (Little Country Girl)
24. Cantares de Tierra - Cancion Sureña (Songs of My Land)