|Narciso Serradell Sevilla, Mexico|
In 1861, Mexico was invaded by the Second French Empire, and Maximilian I (younger brother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I) was instated as the monarch of what became known as the Second Mexican Empire. A young man named Narciso Serradell Sevilla was captured while resisting the invasion, and he was sent to France, where he taught music and Spanish for several years. In 1862, at age 19, Sevilla wrote a song called La Golondrina (“The Swallow”), which resonated with many of his fellow Mexican exiles because it told of a migrating swallow recalling its homeland.
After the reign of Maximilian I ended in 1867, Sevilla and many of his countrymen returned home, and thousands of members of the French army (including its marching band) fled into what is now the American Southwest. Concurrently, many Polish and German immigrants began settling in the same region, bringing along their native polkas and waltzes. Needless to say, the setting was ripe for musical development. The confluence of imported and regional traditions sparked the development of several new styles in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including Norteño music and Western Swing. La Golondrina became a mainstay in the Western Swing repertoire by the 1930s and is now considered a classic of the style.
I remember hearing La Golondrina frequently at the fiddle contests I entered as a teenager, especially those in the western U.S. I always admired the beautiful double-stops (often in third intervals) and the apparent difficulty it took to pull them off. After learning the tune myself, I began using it essentially as a double-stop exercise.
The arrangement of La Golondrina presented here is based on a version of the tune popularized by Western Swing players Milton Brown, Cliff Bruner, and Bob Wills. I expand upon this version by incorporating almost every available double-stop interval in thirds between the 1st and 5th positions. You can now practice your thirds to the beautiful tune of La Golondrina!
|Cliff Bruner and his Texas Wanderers, 1937|
|Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies, 1935|