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Lyrics Andean music
    Land of winds > Music > Lyrics | Issue 15 (Jul.-Aug.2013)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Mi charango

(Traditional. In "Ch'utillos", Alejandro Cámara and the group Semilla, 2007)

Mi charango

In 2007, the Bolivian charango player and composer Alejandro Cámara, together with the group Semilla, recorded "Mi charango", a tonada potosina which had already been registered under the same title by Bolivian Zulma Yugar in 1982 (in "Éxitos de TV"). There are several versions of the lyrics of this song. The version by Alejandro Cámara and the group Semilla is probably the best known and most widely spread of them all:

Hasta mi charango llora
con ser palo inocente.
Como no he de llorar yo
si tu amor está ausente.

[Even my charango cries
being an innocent stick.
How am I supposed not to cry
when your love is away].

Te busco, no te encuentro
y sin embargo te quiero.

[I look for you, I don’t find you
and yet I love you].

Mayupata mandarina,
warmichu mana tarina.
Esquinata muyuykuspa
chakiwan montonarina.


[Mandarin tree at the river,
it is not difficult to find a woman.
Turning the corner
there are [women enough] to sweep them with your feet].

Te busco, no te encuentro
y sin embargo te quiero.

Al río me chultiría
de lo alto al más profundo,
a ver si de esa manera
cantara mi calavera.

[Into the river I would throw myself
from the top into the deepest,
to see if that way
my skull sings].

Te busco, no te encuentro
y sin embargo te quiero.

Sasaki, Sasakimanta,
kay wayñu Sakakamanta.
Kay wayñu Sakakamanta
del Norte Potosímanta.


[Sasaqui, from Sasaqui,
this huayno from Sacaca.
This huayno is from Sacaca,
from North Potosí].

Te busco, no te encuentro
y sin embargo te quiero.

The melody of this song belongs to a tonada nor-potosina titled "Del Norte Potosímanta", popularized by Grupo Horizontes in 1982, in their album "Penas que matan". Likewise, the stanzas beginning with "Al río me chultiría..." and "Mayupata mandarina...", and the chorus "Te busco, no te encuentro..." are also from that tonada.

Curiously enough, the stanza beginning "Mayu pata mandarina..." first occurred in an old prayer that is still traditionally sung in Cochabamba, Bolivia: the "Santa Veracruz Tatala". The original lyrics literally say: "Mayupata mandarina, / qharichu mana tarina. / Iskina muyuykuytawan / pichanawan tantarina!" [Mandarin tree at the river, / it is not difficult to find husband. / Turnig the corner / there are [husbands enough] to sweep them].

The band Los Sicoyas del Norte Potosí and the singer Betsabé Iturralde recorded this melody taking part of the original lyrics but leaving the chorus out. Their version was titled "Hasta mi charango llora", and includes a stanza that is a variant of a popular copla from the Macha region (Potosí, Bolivia):

Maldigo la piedra lisa,
que en ella yo resbalé.
Estando joven soltero
con ella me cautivé.

[I curse the smooth stone,
which I slipped on.
Being young and single
I was captivated by it].

"Mi charango" has been played and recorded by other groups (e.g. the Bolivian band Llajtaymanta). Fortunately, these versions feature minor changes in the lyrics in contrast to what has happened to other folk songs. Therefore, its diffusion ensures that a small piece of Bolivia's traditional heritage will remain sounding for a long time.


Video 01. "Mi charango", by Alejandro Cámara and the group Semilla.
Video 02. "Hasta mi charango llora", by Los Sicoyas del Norte Potosí.
Video 03. "Mi charango", by Zulma Yugar.


Picture A.


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