Pregón

Pregón, a Spanish word meaning announcement or street-seller's cry, has a particular meaning in both Cuban music as well as in Latin American music in general. It can be translated as a song based on a street-seller's cry or a street-seller's song ("canto de los vendedores ambulantes").[1]

The cries of hawkers and costermongers could once be heard in every city in the world, though their use as a basis for song is particularly notable in South America and the Caribbean. In Cuba, ethnologist, Miguel Barnet, noted that cross-fertilization was common as hawkers also often based their pregones on rural tunes or popular genres such as son and guaracha. The Cuban music historian, Cristóbal Díaz Ayala, has compiled a list of nearly five hundred examples of popular tunes based on hawker songs ‒ most from Cuba, but also from other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.[2]

One of the best-known examples of a pregón is the song entitled "El Manisero" ("The Peanut Vendor" in English) which was written by Cuban musician and composer, Moisés Simons, and first recorded by Rita Montaner in 1928. The 1930 version recorded by Don Azpiazú in New York City with Antonio Machín on vocals became a worldwide hit starting a "rumba" craze that swept throughout North America and much of Europe in the 1930s. The Peanut Vendor had a second life as a hit piece when Stan Kenton recorded it as an instrumental in 1947.

Other well-known pregones and their writers include the following:

  • Frutas del Caney ("Fruits from El Caney") by Félix B. Cagnet - Cuba
  • El yerberito ("The herb vendor") by Benny Moré - Cuba
  • Rica pulpa by Eliseo Grenet - Cuba
  • El afilador ("The knife grinder") by Agustín Magaldi - Argentina
  • El botellero ("The bottle-man") by Gilberto Valdés - Cuba
  • El carbonero ("The charcoal seller") by Iván Fernandez - Cuba)
  • El limpiabotas ("The shoeshine boy") by Los Cuates Castilla - Mexico
  • El pregón de las flores ("The flower seller's cry") by Ernesto Lecuona - Cuba
  • La violetera ("The girl who sells violets") by Eduardo Montesinos López, 1958 - Spain
  • Se va el dulcerito ("The sweet seller is leaving") by Rosendo Ruiz - Cuba
  • Yo vendo unos ojos negros ("Some black eyed (peas) for sale") - Chile (pre-1910, unknown composer).

References

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