Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Acitrón de un fandango
(Mexican Game Song)

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The first lines of this song are basically nonsense, though "de un fandango" is a lively Spanish couples dance.

Acitrón de un fandango
Acitron in a Fandango
Canción de juego
(Spanish)
Game Song
(English)

Acitrón de un fandango,
Zango, zango, sabaré,
Sabaré que va pasando*,
Con su triqui, triqui, tran.

Por la calle voy pasando,
Por la vía pasa el tren,
Acitrón de un fandango,
Zango, zango, sabaré.

Antonio tenía una flauta,
Con ella se divertía**
Y vamos a dar la lata
A la casa de su tía,
Con su triqui, triqui, tran.

Acitron in a fandango,
Zango, zango, sabare,
Sabare that passes by*,
With its triqui, triqui, tran.

I pass by in the street,
The train passes on the track,
Acitron of a fandango,
Zango, zango, sabare.

Anthony had a flute,
And he had fun with it**
And we're going to be a nuisance
At his aunt's house
With its triqui, triqui, tran.
 
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Notes

*This line can be found as "Sabaré que va pasando" (Sabaré that passes by) or "Sabaré que va cantando" (Sabaré that goes singing) or "Sabaré de farandela/ de parandela / de barandela/ de tarantela" (which is meaningless)

**These two lines can be found as:

Bartolo tocó la flauta (Bartolo played the flute)
Con un agujero solo (With only one hole)

or

Valentín tenía un violín (Valentin had a violin)
y con él se divertía (and he would have fun with it.)

*****

According to ethnomusicologist Rolando Pérez, the words "Sango" (zango in the version above) and "Sabare" are of African origin. "Sango" comes from "Sangu" in the Kimbundu and Kikongo-Bantu languages, meaning "happily". "Sabare" comes from "seve", "sevela" or "sevelela" in Kimbundu and means "to mock." -Interview with Rolando Pérez from December 13, 2000 as reported in "Mujeres de origen africano en la capital novohispana, siglos XVII y XVIII" by María Elisa Velázquez Gutiérrez (page 190).

*****

Rhianna Barr sent the following version with the note: "This is a little Mexican 'stone game' I learned at summer camp..."

Al citrón de un fandango,
Sango sango,
Sabaré sabaré,
De la arandela,
Con su triqui triqui tron.

*****

Game Instructions

The children sit in a circle on the floor, each one has in front of him a stone, a wooden stick, or any kind of object that can make a noise when beaten on the floor. As they sing, they pass their objects to the child on their right. When they come to the line, "con su triqui, triqui, tran" they beat the object in front of their friend on the right, then beat it again in front of themselves, and only on the third pass do they drop it in front of the friend.

Comments

Ariel wrote:

"Just want to note that this isn't a 'nonsense' song - some of the words are wrong ; such as tran is to be tren and sabare is to be soborare

Translated the song is about :

A party full of lemon candy (Acitron) but there is a lot of pudding (Sobarare); A LOT and they don't want it! and they want to put the pudding on the clicky clacky train (triqui triqui tren) as it passes by .....

The passing of the objects is the train ; as we click clack them!

Here's a breakdown:

Acitrón = Candied Lemon, Lemon Candy - Lemon dried and made into sweetmeat; candied lemon.
Fandango = Dance Fandango, a lively Spanish dance the music to this dance.

Zango is to be "SANGO" = yucca and maize pudding
Sabare' is to be "SOBRARE"= to be left over, to be spare (in future tense)

pasando = to pass
triqui/ Trique = crack; Loud, sharp noise
tran is to be "tren" = Train

"Acitrón de un fandango"
A Candied Lemon Dance

"sango, sango, sobrare"
lot's of maize pudding left over ....

"Sobrare que va pasando"
lot's of it passes by

Con su triqui, triqui, tren"
on a noisy train

To sum it up: there's a party full of lemon candy .... & pudding, a lot of nasty pudding or they rather just eat the candy.... so the people pass the pudding by so there's a lot left over and they put it on the noisy trains that pass by."

*****

Monique responded to the previous comment as follows:

"I agree that acitrón is candied lemon. I can find no reference to the phrase 'soborare' or 'sobarare' anywhere.

It's true that the 'triqui triqui tran' can be found as 'triqui triqui tren' or 'triqui triqui tron'. So even if the first version was 'tren' and it had a meaning, the line was later altered."

*****

Renee wrote: "The word sabare is not in the Dictionary. Even though I was informed that it refers to an African term from the songs that the nannies (slaves or emigrants) would sing to the American children.

It's not related to the verb sobrar, I think!"

*****

Camilo wrote: "Without any very clear and obvious back-up, it's speculation. If we go for speculations, the words 'sabaré' and 'sango' are generally considered to be African words that came to Mexico through lullabies and they 'might' mean: sabaré, 'to laugh up one's sleeve' and the word 'sando' which led to 'sango', 'to go/walk stealthily'. "

*****

We welcome more info about the meaning of this song. -Mama Lisa

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Monique Palomares for contributing and translating this song.

Thanks to Rhianna Barr for the alternate version of this song. Thanks to Ariel and Monique for their comments.

¡Muchas gracias!

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