Milwaukee Record is proud to present Public Domain. The music video series features Milwaukee musicians setting up at Colectivo Coffee to adapt some of the world’s best-known songs in ways they’ve never been heard before. Watch the entire series here.

The final Public Domain installment we shot in 2018 (and the first we’re releasing in 2019) just so happens to be one of the oldest songs ever featured in this series. “El Son de la Má Teodora” is said to date as far back as 1562, when Teodora Ginés allegedly composed the song. The Dominican-born musician immigrated to Cuba, where she’s credited with the creation of the El Son (or “Son Munato”) genre of music that often features a solo singer and call-and-response choruses. “El Son de la Má Teodora” follows that format, as the singer answers each inquisitive line about Má Teodora’s whereabouts with “rajando la leña está” (which translates to “she’s out gathering wood”).

Milwaukee’s own ¡palabra! keeps the 16th century Cuban standard’s lyrics intact in their adaptation. However, the band takes liberties with the song’s structure and instrumentation, transforming a simple-yet-significant Caribbean staple into a winding and nuanced seven-minute aural journey. Though ¡palabra! is the latest band to tackle Ginés’ most significant song, they’re far from the only act to cover it. Through the 450-plus years since the song was first heard, countless musicians have performed it. No matter how many have played it over the course of time, none of the renditions have sounded quite like this.

The video was shot, directed, and edited by Cheston Van Huss, with lighting and additional camera support by Grant Steskal. Public Domain is sponsored by Colectivo Coffee Roasters, 3 Sheeps Brewing Company, and Transfer Pizzeria Café.

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