Dile a Catalina

Hi everyone

If you follow me (twitter or Facebook, and this transcription page), you may have noticed that I worship Marc Ribot. And even though this post is not about Ribot himself, it’s actually a post that will help you understand his music … I hope.

Arsenio Rodriguez is a cuban tres player : not really a guitar, but close enough and quite easy to transcribe on a guitar. Ribot started his band ‘Los Cubanos Postizos’ to play the repertoire of Arsenio Rodriguez, but his love for Rodriguez pre-dates the creation of the band. Ribot says that when playing with Tom Waits in the 80’s, his direction was to channel the spirit of Rodriguez and Django Reinhardt…

The transcription is available here.


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This solo is from 1946. Yes 1946. All the more impressive right ?

The Tres is amplified, and has a dirty crunchy sound that is very similar to what you can get with a semi-hollow body plugged in a cranked-up tube amp. A sound that is very ‘rootsy’ and wouldn’t be out of place on an old Howling Wolf album. No wonder Ribot loved it…

The solo starts with a long melodic line under the vocals. It’s time to practice your triads and arpeggios. Up till bar 12, the solo is mainly build around arpeggios and motives. That was your ‘classic’ cuban section.

Then something terribly wrong happens … lol

Here starts a ‘wacky’ section that goes completely atonal : before jazzmen codified ‘playing outside’, Rodriguez (and for that matter Djando too) made very daring use of the whole-tone scale as a way to create atonal and tensed sections. Here Rodriguez uses the whole-tone scale starting on the 5th of the key : we’re in F, so it’s a C whole tone, that gives us F# G# Bb C D E. Only the F# and G# are not in the key, but they’re really ‘out’ : b9 #9. Plus the phrasing and the broken intervals accentuate the tension.  And it culminates in a burst of slides and muted strings : it’s Jimi Hendrix or what !

Without stopping the noisy section segue in a long melodic line that finishes on a repeated note.

The tension is still quite high, but now we get to the last section, build around motives like the beginning of the solo, but with more dissonance (Db chord), like a blend of the two main section.

It’s a wild performance ! I haven’t found many other example like this in Rodriguez discography, but I’m still exploring, and I’m still under the shock of that music, and there’s much more to learn from it, I’ve barely scratch the surface.

Hope you enjoyed this post, share, comment, spread the love in the social media, buy the charts to help me continue those posts …

Until next time, take care.


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