12 feb. 2011

Culturally specific

Hay guateque en el bohío
del compadre Don Ramón

Ya está en la púa el lechón,
ya está llegando el gentío.
Hoy viene abajo el bohío,
es santo de Don Ramón.

Y llegando bailadores, comay,
por los caminos atascados

El bongó, el triple y el güiro
no han cesado de tocar
porque asi son los guajiros
no tienen cuando acabar,
Es costumbre campesina
desde el tiempo colonial.

In this lyric from Cuba almost every substantive word is culturally specific. A guajiro is not just a peasant, but a "typical" Cuban peasant. They are celebrating not the birthday, but the Saint's day of this particular guajiro. They are playing instruments that would be found in that context. A guateque is not just any old party, but this particular kind of celebration with the roast suckling pig (lechón) and the music played on typical instruments.

The message of the lyric seems to be that the party is a typical one. It is a kind of metafolkloric poem, then. It is the custom of the guajiros to do this since colonial times. The lyric only makes sense, then, when sung in a particular way accompanied with these instruments.