Rondalla: The group of serenaders
The serenaders exist
in all Spain and they arose in principle as accompaniment to the folklore manifestations,
very especially to the jota (Aragonese folk song and dance). With the
time, it were perfected, until the point of being under conditions of interpreting
concert pieces. In the International Congress of Folklore Music of Sao Paulo
(Brazil), in 1954, this definition was adopted: 'Folklore music, is the product
of a musical tradition that it has gone evolving and being orally transmitted'.
They are accepted the continuity of the musical evolution then, the variants
that go arising and the selection of the community.
The term rondalla comes from ronda (serenade), from to serenade, and this word was applied to give name to the instrumental groups of pulse and spike. Serenaders exist in quantity of spanish towns, in almost all; and they are generally constituted by alone guitars, or guitars, mandolas and lutes. Exceptionally, they compose them guitars, requintos, irons and tambourines. In some places, the crcked cane is used and until the bottle of anisette with grooves, so that when scratching it with some instrument (a tablespoon generally), emit kind of a rhythmic shake. The serenader carries out its main function, in the 'ronda'. Alone when you arrives to a superior degree of improvement, the serenader begins to interpret concert works.
Contrary to the danced and sung jota, the rondalla can subsist by itself, because those other ones specify of the mentioned serenader to show. In the primitive times, it didn't happen this way, because the accompaniment to the song was made with the palms or some utensil that it was hit with rhythm: bottles of anisette, pots, mortars, glasses, tablespoons and the pitcher that made of low. The barber's shops of the towns, contributed extraordinarily to make of rondalla schools; it was strange the barber that didn't know how to chime the guitar or the mandola.
The rondalla groups, arose as eminently popular musical manifestation to the folclore service and for the ronda (senerade) nights. By this way, they agglutinated all the integral elements of the jota and of them the jota groups depended. On the other hand, the musical technical term introduced in some serenaders, has put some time in danger the purity of the jota. They have introduced variants in too much number, like to take them away from the genuine folclore. More than two hundred jota variations exist already. In principle, the fundamental variations of the this melodies, didn't overcome the dozen. It is reasonable that the serenaders look for their splendor, but for that, the concert works are.
When the serenader interprets the jota, he begins with the classics four chords, wide and well ripped, on the tonic and that they belong together to each one of the parts of the first compass and the first one of the second; next the melody enters (of the properly this jota) with the first of the variations that consists of eight compasses divided in two members of four compasses each one. Time behind, the melody of each variation used to be repeated. In the ronda (serenada), the singers enters to sing generally with the beginning of the first of the last four compasses of the variation (interrupting this, in the same half). In the rondaderas (songs for a serenade), the norm is broken and it is frequent that each cantador ˇenterˇ when the spontaneity of the serende requests it to him. The number of variations among song and song is variable according to the circumstances, where the ronda stops and where it is necessary to intone the ballad. In the competitions, it's demanded that the singers are adjusted for the three ballads, to the twenty-four compasses of other so many variations. When the jota has style, the serenader habitually executes two variations after the four initial chords, and a third of ˇentranceˇ with four compasses that always correspond to identical melody. Once there is ˇenteredˇ the singer, the accompaniment goes in charge of the guitars, with chords and low, while the mandolas and lutes mark the compass with a slight touch.
For the accompaniment of the dance, once the couple or couples have left, the serenader is adjusted to the rhythm that demands the style and the singer ˇget inˇ interrupting the variation of the rondalla, in the same way that in the serenade jotas. The tone is in LA biggest. The dance begins with the first ballad and they will be the dancers those that mark to the singer, when there is that ˇto enterˇ for the two following ballads, since the dance of the jota is divided in three parts.
Demetrio Gallant mentions to the guitar like basic instrument of the first serenaders, very alone or accompanied by the guitarro (great guitar) and the requinto (a little guitar). So itwas like the plucked jota arose and that the ancients called ˇre-pluckedˇ. It doesn't make a lot, few players knew music theory. As a lot, they dominated the figure. Of each other, they went transmitting their knowledge. They began knowing the position of the fingers of the left hand on the frets corresponding to each note, while the right hand strumed. At the moment, the music theory is common to most of the players, with that the serenaders are professionalized, although it can lack, certain degree of each interpreter's improvisation.
Although isolated antecedents of rondas and serenades exist with participation of guitars, lutes and mandolas, already in the XVI century, the serenader denomination, doesn't appear in Aragon until the first third of the XIX century. The first rondadores ('serenaders') that one has news, they are in Zaragoza and they are main characters of a rivalry that has given place to anecdotes that touch between the history and the legend. They are the serenaders (Alta y Baja) High and Low or of (El Gancho) the Hook and of (El Gallo) the Rooster. These, participated in the homage that was paid in Zaragoza, to the king Fernando VII and their wife Josefa Amalia of Saboya, it was then when the sung jota acquired official letter of nature.
* Gathered of diverse sources for M. Tomé