Cana Quema



lead vocals - pregon (improvises the verses)

chorus vocals - coro (sing fixed refrains in 2 parts)


  • chordal accompaniment in both songs
  • syncopated chords during plucked double bass

double bass 

  • plucks a small number of notes mostly from dominant an tonic chords


  • mixture of solo melodic lines - adventurous, covers wide range, includes slides/chords/individual notes
  • strummed chords 
  • 4 pairs of tuning = thicker sound, with upper octaves causing bright ringing 
  • plays a guajeo as an intro for both songs and acc to singing
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'Sa quema la chumbamba' Instrumentation

uses limited vocal range:

  • lead vocals - minor 6th
  • chrous - minor 9th 

all instruments 

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'Alla va candela' Instrumentation

wider range for lead vocals:

  • 12th in bolero section 
  • restricted range in son section
  • repeated octaves on note E in chorus

all instruments

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Latin American style

continuous maracas continuous quavers

improvised bongo patterns 

3:2 Son clave rhythm in 'Se quema la chumbamba'

mostly 2:3 Son claves rhythm in 'Alla va candela'

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'Se quema la chumbamba' Structure

4-bar cuatro intro (guajeo) - used throughout the song


  • 8-bar changing/varied pregon 'verses'
  • 8-bar unvaried coro 'refrains'
  • slight change to the pattern by the pregon singing an unchanged version of the coro refrain 

cuatro solo - long and involving a bongo improvisation ; for variety 

short coda based on the coro refrain to end piece 


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'Alla va candela' Structure

1-39 = Bolero:

  • 1-2 cuatro
  • 3-13 guitar/bass/percussion join as cuatro pre-echos vocal melody 
  • 15-23 lower tessitura VOCAL IDEA A
  • 25-31 idea overlaps into son section VOCAL IDEA B 

39-143 = Son:

  • 32-38 tempo increases VOCAL IDEA C
  • 39-60 VOCAL REFRAIN 
  • repeat of 33-62 (at bar 62)
  • 68-119 CUATRO SOLO 
  • 120-123 CUATRO GUAJEO LINK accompanies bongo 
  • 124-137 VOCAL REFRAIN (from 39-60)
  • 138-144 VOCAL IDEA C 
  • 145-163 VOCAL REFRAIN 
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'Sa quema la chumbamba' Tonality


G minor 

no modulations 

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'Alla va candela' Tonality



no modulations 

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'Sa quema la chumbamba' Harmony

limited repeating 4-bar chord pattern = I and V7 in G minor 

richer harmony created by use of Eb over D7 (implies dom 9th chord OR dim 7th chord)

cuatro solo:

wider range of chords e.g. maj subdom chord (C major)

sliding parallel progressions 

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'Alla va candela' Harmony

wide range of chords in bolero section:

  • mainly E and B7 
  • A and F#7 to have variation 
  • E7 at bar 28

simple E and B7 alternating in son section 

cuatro solo has effective harmony vocabulary:

  • chromatic inflections in melodic line
  • some extensions e.g. E6 and B7/9 created by high C# 100-104 
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'Sa quema la chumbamba' Melody

cuatro riff intro = 2 related phrases with rising and falling 3rds 

important balanced 2-bar or 4-bar vocal phrases

'Candela' vocal refrain' similiar each time:

  • bar 1 of 1st phrase = begins on 3rd or 5th
  • bar 2 of 1st phrase = lands on unprepared 7th (C) 
  • bar 1 of 2nd phrase = begins on supertonic 
  • bar 2 of 2nd phrase = leaps to dominant before falling to the tonic 

improvisatory pregon phrases: move to upper dominant (D) then (sometimes) to Eb before falling to tonic

cuatro solo melody is the most varied:

  • uses all notes of harmonic G minor scale 
  • chromatic C# is used frequently - as a chromatic inflection onto the dominant 
  • use of E and F as player becomes further away from vocal section's implied harmony 
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'Alla va candela' Melody

same basic structure in CUATRO MELODY (4-12) and VOCAL IDEA A (15-23) ; triadic shapes, up and down stepwise movement, upward 4th repeated/emphasised.

VOCAL IDEA B (25-31) low and stepwise except from upward 5th (27) and downward 5th (31)

VOCAL IDEA C wide range, ascends octave in a 2nd inversion arpeggio of E major (1st phrase) then descends to its starting note(for next section)

VOCAL REFRAIN simple repetition of E major triad notes and outer notes of B major triad

CUATRO GUAJEO (39-40) large intervals e.g. descending 6th, notes outside the harmony e.g. C# bar 39

CUATRO SOLO flexible melody:

  • triadic shapes
  • stepwise motion
  • large leaps (85-6)
  • chromatic inflections (69,72)
  • all notes of chromatic scale (82-3)
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'Sa quema la chumbamba' Rhythm and Metre

2 in a bar feeling + heavily syncopated = position of first beat is disguised

son claves 3:2 rhythm - all rhythms fit to this

anticipation bass - bass line anticipates beat by putting root chord on 4th crotchet beat 

cuatro solo varies rhythmic divisions of beat using:

  • triplet crotchets/quavers
  • syncopation 

vocal phrases:

  • each one begins on 2nd crotchet of bar 
  • 4th bar of each always uses 3 'straight' crotchets to anchor rhythm to beat briefly 
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'Alla va candela' Rhythm

4/4 BUT opening bolero is heard in 2/2 metre at medium tempo (80bpm)

son section moves into 2 in a bar metre (90bpm)

percussion rhythms underpin rhythms:

  • 2-bar 2:3 clave rhythm 
  • sometimes move to 3:2 clave rhythm (in irregular length sections)

bass line - 'square' rhythm in bolero AND syncopated line in son

vocal lines - syncopated throughout, sometimes creating cross-rhythms

cuatro solo has most complex rhythms:

  • frequent syncopation
  • triplets
  • hemiola figures (103-4)
  • rapic quaver figures
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