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Lesson 1: Learning “La Cocinerita”

Aim: How do rhythm and meter define different musical styles?

Summary: Students learn to sing the chorus to “La Cocinerita”; understand the song’s 6/8 rhythms; and create soundscape compositions using kitchen sounds.
Additional Materials: kitchen items like pots and pans, graters, and chopsticks
Standards: National 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11
Vocabulary: beat, meter, soundscape, strong beats, weak beats

Sofía R. and Sofia T. Teach “La Cocinerita”

“La Cocinerita” Demonstration

Argentine Folk singers Sofía R. and Sofia T. teach the traditional Argentine Folk song “La Cocinerita” along with Eric Kurimski, guitar.

Sing “La Cocinerita”

  • Listen to “La Cocinerita,” Track 23
  • Learn the lyrics using “La Cocinerita” pronunciation, Track 24, and the melody of the chorus using “La Cocinerita” chorus, Track 25.

“La Cocinerita”

Text

Cuchillo ’e palo,
Platito y loza.
Ollita de barro,
Sí le he comprado,
Sí le he comprado,
A mi cocinera.
Sí le he comprado,
Sí le he comprado,
A mi cocinera.

Y con mi caja,
Vengo cantando
Coplas de Tilcara
Porque ya estamos
Porque ya estamos
En medio del carnaval.
Porque ya estamos
Porque ya estamos
En medio del carnaval.

Chorus:
Planta de ají, planta y tomate
’Onde andará mi cocinerita
Ay, tomando mate.
’Onde andará mi cocinerita
Ay, tomando mate.

Por ti suspire
A mi fin de fiesta
A Doña Pispira
’Onde convidan,
’Onde convidan,
Con queso de cabra.
’Onde convidan,
’Onde convidan,
Con queso de cabra.

Hojita ’e coca,
Y a mi molido
Hojita de albahaca
Sí le he comprado,
Sí le he comprado,
A mi cocinera
Sí le he comprado,
Sí le he comprado,
A mi cocinera

(Chorus)

 

Translation

Knife and stick
Saucer and dish.
Little clay pan,
Yes, I have bought it,
Yes, I have bought it,
For my cook.
Yes, I have bought it,
Yes, I have bought it,
For my cook.

And with my box,
I come singing
Couplets from Tilcara
Because we’re already,
Because we’re already,
In the middle of the carnival season.
Because we’re already,
Because we’re already,
In the middle of the Carnival season.

Chorus:
Pepper plant, plant and tomato
Where will my little cook be?
O, drinking mate!*
Where will my little cook be?
O, drinking mate!*

Everybody sighs
At the end of the party,
To Doña Pispira
So she invites,
So she invites,
With goat cheese.
So she invites,
So she invites,
With goat cheese.

Little coca leaf,
And ground for me
And little basil leaf,
Yes, I have bought it,
Yes, I have bought it,
For my cook.
Yes, I have bought it,
Yes, I have bought it,
For my cook.

(Chorus)

*Mate is a traditional South American tea.

Explore the Lyrics to “La Cocinerita”

  • Discuss the story told in the song. Explain that song lyrics do not always tell the story directly; you might have to be a bit of a detective to figure out the whole story.
    • Who are the characters in this song?
    • Who is the person singing it?
    • Who is the person singing about?
    • What happens in the song? Tell the story with a beginning, middle, and end.
    • The singer goes grocery shopping and buys the ingredients for a dinner.
    • The singer brings the ingredients home to the cook.
    • The singer comes back later, and there is no dinner! Instead the cook has been drinking her mate, a kind of tea.

Fun Fact: Sofía R. and Sofia T. both drank mate with their breakfast each morning when they were growing up. When children drink it, it is generally diluted with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey.

Explore the Rhythm in “La Cocinerita”

  • Explain that this song, like many Argentine folks songs, has a distinctive rhythm.
  • Explain that there are six counts in every measure. If your students are ready, you can introduce the concept of meter and explain that the meter of the song is 6/8.
  • Listen to “La Cocinerita,” Track 23, and count to six together in each measure.
  • Explain that there is a pattern of strong beats and weak beats.
    • In the verses of this song, like in many songs in 6/8, there are two strong beats in each measure, like this:
      1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Listen to the opening verse of the song using “La Cocinerita,” Track 23. Have students sway back and forth to the music with emphasis on beats 1 and 4 (1 2 3 4 5 6). In this way, they will get the feeling of the two strong beats in each measure. Have students count to six as they sway on the strong beats.
This activity may be more appropriate for advanced students.
  • You can explore the contrasting rhythm found in the chorus, where there are three strong beats (1 2 3 4 5 6) instead of two. This shift in strong and weak beats during the chorus is a common feature of Argentine folk songs.
  • Explain that there is a different pattern of strong and weak beats in the chorus.
  • Sing the first two lines of the chorus while counting to six. Clap the rhythm of the words; each syllable falls on a strong beat.
  • Explain that the strong beats in the chorus are on beats 1, 3, and 5 (1 2 3 4 5 6), and they are called accents.
This activity is appropriate for all students.
  • Play “La Cocinerita,” Track 23.
  • On the verse, sway while counting the six beats aloud.
  • On the chorus, sing and clap the rhythm of the lyrics on the first two lines. Sing and sway for the last two lines of the chorus.
Creative Extension

Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Orchestra!

The lyrics of “La Cocinerita” mention kitchen objects, but did you know kitchen objects can be musical too? This is an opportunity for your students to explore free-form composition by focusing on sound textures and including elements of improvisation. They will be creating a soundscape using objects and sounds found in the kitchen. This activity builds upon the introductory activity found on Discover Music in Everyday Objects (PDF). You can also share an example of a kitchen soundscape created by Sofía R. and Sofia T. using “La Cocinerita” kitchen soundscape, Track 26.

Building Your Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Orchestra
  • Brainstorm different sounds found in the kitchen. Start with objects that make sounds, e.g. pots and pans, graters, and chopsticks. Then think about things that you do in the kitchen, e.g. pouring water or rice, beating eggs, etc.
  • Ask students to play in their kitchens at home to see what sounds they can create. Ask them to bring in things from home to contribute to the everything-but-thekitchen-sink orchestra.
  • Try out the different objects as a class and observe the different sounds and tone colors produced. Have the students explore different ways their objects can be played. Describe the sounds, developing a sound vocabulary.
  • Using these raw materials, decide on the “instruments” you want to include in your orchestra.
  • Decide how you want to organize the instruments, creating families of the orchestra. Possible criteria include material type (e.g. metal or wood); pitch (e.g. high, medium, and low); or method of playing (e.g. strike, shape, or scrape).
Composing and Performing with Your Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Orchestra
Now that your orchestra is ready to play, you can create a group composition.
  • Establish a structure for your piece so that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end—just like in the story of “La Cocinerita.” Explore different elements you can use to shape your structure. A few examples:
    • Dynamics: Crescendo—decrescendo
    • Tempo: Slow—accelerando—fast—decelerando
    • Density: A few instruments play a few sounds surrounded by silences; gradually add more instruments and more sounds to fill in the space.
  • Each section of the orchestra creates a part that they will play. It could be any kind of repeating pattern, or they could just choose to improvise.
  • More advanced students can experiment by inventing forms of notation for their pieces.
  • Perform! Students take turns as the conductor, choosing which sections or individuals play when, and when the piece starts and ends.

Explore Instruments from South America

  • Have students look at the instruments on Instruments from South America (PDF). Read the descriptions of each instrument and discuss them with your students.
    • These instruments were originally created from found objects and can be heard in music from Argentina and other countries in South America.
    • We will see and hear some of these instruments performed by Sofía R. and Sofia T. and their band at the concert.

Musical Word Wall

Add the words beat, meter, soundscape, strong beats, and weak beats to the Musical Word Wall.

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