Light Lancherous, Minnesota
Those who have seen “Encanto” are not only amazed at the rigor and visual beauty that the Madrigal family’s hometown of Colombia reflects. They also warn first-time wearers of scarves: the complex, versatile, and emotional music created by Puerto Rican composer, singer, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda—who revolutionized the approach to American history with “Hamilton” and who also created music for beauty like Moana—reflects in an unusual and poignant way. All the complexity and cultural richness of Colombia and, above all, the deepest heart and duality in its nation’s history.
This can be seen, for example, in one of the performances of the original nine songs created for the film, which was one of the most poetic: “Dos oruguitas”, performed by Colombian star Sebastian Yatra, which tells to many citizens how resilience can define Colombia In a word.
But at the same time, he compares the song he wrote for Carlos Vives, the ambassador of Caribbean music to the world, to “Colombia, Mi Encanto”, a love hymn for people who also love to party, and are kind and compassionate. Where color and warmth are part of your everyday life. To in turn show – as a result of a long investigation – other songs to which he adapted Colombian folk and folk rhythms, such as the bamboco (the peasant rhythm of the Andes and the Central Region), the bolero, among others, with instruments such as the accordion and the pupil.
In fact, the protagonist, Mirabel, plays the accordion and sings, like the heroes of a charlatan in the coastal region and the north of the country, where Gabriel García Márquez himself came, who told his stories in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. And it was that magical realism and variety that inspired the composer, who spoke with Metro about creating the music for the new Disney movie.
Q: How did you decide to put all our rhythms into each song? For any reason?
With each project, I always ask how this character is feeling. And what do you want to express at that moment. And when I traveled to Colombia in 2018, I understood the diversity of music out there, and it was incredible. We went to Cartagena, Bogota, Palenque and Barichara. At every station we hear music and what I wanted was to highlight the musical diversity that exists in Colombia. So I started with the accordion and Mirabel – imagining a Disney character playing the accordion and singing was amazing.
But in this song (Welcome to the Madrigal Family) it takes a lot of work because you have to tell the story of the whole family, starting with the grandmother, her married children and the next generation. Each of his powers. I started with that. And then, for “No se habla de Bruno,” he had a bolero. It had a Colombian rhythm, but the format is theatrical. There I was thinking about those musicals at the end of the first act, where everyone performs their solo and then everyone sings together. This was a way to show all the characters, as we had 12 original characters and wanted to bring the whole family to the big screen.
So we wrote this song for characters who wouldn’t have a chance to have a solo.
Now, for Mirabel: It’s always hard to write a Disney heroine’s song. And above all they express their world, showing their whole heart. So I went back to what we were hearing in Colombia and I went back to the Bambuco, at this rate at ¾. And I thought it was perfect for Mirabel, because she always goes at a different pace than her family. So I went back to the music we heard there. Without exception, we have always gone for the defining elements of Colombian music.
On the other hand, in What Else Can I Do, when older sister Isabella becomes a rebel, I go back to my teenage years. There I was listening to Shakira and rock’s “Where are the Thieves” in Spanish that came out of Colombia in the ’90s.
B: Learning rhythms is one thing, adapting them is another, especially if you are playing them for the first time. How was that process?
Well, I always ask for information to write music. When writing vallenato, I heard Carlos Vives so it came out of my ears, my eyes and everything. Then the next step was to call Carlos and tell him, “I wrote this song that was inspired by you and your music.”
And when he enters the studio with his musicians, he takes it to the next level. Now, when writing a popular song by Sebastian Yatra, the same thing happens. Therefore, we find all this with Colombian musicians. I’m also very proud that it’s a 100% Latin team and I wanted it to explain the Colombian diversity.
Q: Many Colombians see “Dos Oruguitas” as a large part of our history, especially because of our resilience and political history. From where he came?
My metaphor for the song is to think of two little caterpillars that endure very difficult things and must separate to reach their next form and hope for a miracle. This was perfect for the Madrigal family. I was inspired by the visuals that came out of the animation section and saw that candle, which then turns into a butterfly and then the miracle that protects this community in its darkest and saddest moments. Now, I wanted this song to sound like it’s always been there. And when you return to nature, you find its truths embodied.
Q: What song and rhythm did you like the most?
-That’s hard. I really enjoyed writing in ¾, for Mirabel, but I also wrote “Colombia, Mi Encanto”. It was a pride, because I was able to write in that rhythm, with that joy and sing along imagining that I, Carlos Vives (he imitates him), not sound like that.
I don’t sound half as good as his voice (jokes). But putting myself in this mood was a source of pride, I was happy all day with this song, because it is a hymn of pride for your country.
Q: What makes Colombian music unique in the world to you?
Well, I have Puerto Rican and Mexico roots. Going to Colombia goes to Cousins: There are very similar things. Joe Arroyo is widely heard in Puerto Rico and in the world, but there are very specific things about Colombian music that I discovered when I was writing for the accordion, or for the patriotic instruments she was learning.
What I try to bring to every project I develop is my student attitude. And so I looked at Colombia.
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