Chamarrita

(G major, 3/4, tempo 140, 146 measures, 2 min 20.)

A chamarrita is a fast local Azorean dance. It probably originated from the polkas and folk dances of Flemish immigrants but the fast polyrhythm also hints at African roots. Every village used to have its own chamarritas and older musicians still remember them. According to some musicologists (Renato Almeida) the chamarrita was transported to Argentine by Azorean immigrants, where it was one of the defining influences in the development of the Milonga and later the Tango. I learned the melody of this “Chamarrita de Sao Jorge” from my gardener Francisco Silveira, who is a keen mandolin player. He thinks the melody came originally from the island of Pico. It is a so-called chamarrita de baixo, because it is played high (in Portuguese terms low) on the neck of the Viola da Terra, a local guitar-like instrument. He also gave me copies of transcriptions for voice and piano of traditional songs by the well known Portuguese composer and musicologist Francisco de Lacerda (1869-1934) who was born on Sao Jorge. These helped me to arrange the melody.