Local Stories

Preserving A Part of Puerto Rican History – The “Cuatro”

Preserving A Part of Puerto Rican History – The “Cuatro”

By Judith Kelliher
MassLatinoNews.com

a1e80d946c75530ac50a4f4ba54cbf7f

NORTHAMPTON—Since 1992, master stringed instrument-maker William R. Cumpiano has devoted part of his time to preserving and promoting his native Puerto Rico’s national instrument—the cuatro—whose history up until then had only been captured in the minds and music of Puerto Ricans.

The cuatro’s history is actually part folklore, and Cumpiano and his researchers say, part an evolution of two distinctive, unique instruments which coexisted during the first half of the last century . Those two instruments differed in the number of their strings, their tuning, their size, their shape, and their musical function.

The cuatro was once an “indispensable part of the Puerto Rican daily life,” including being played at wakes, harvest festivals and political campaigns, Cumpiano said. The instrument became iconic in Puerto Rico, much like the bagpipe and the harp were iconic for the Scottish and Irish, respectively, he said.

But while it had played a significant role in Puerto Rico’s history, its popularity was fading in modern times. Cumpiano wanted to preserve and promote the music and musical-craft traditions that surround what he calls the “national instrument” of the island, which was created in the 18th century in the central mountainous region of the island by the Puerto Rican ‘jibaros’, countrymen.

William Cumpiano, cofounder and coordinator of the Cuatro Project, as well as a master stringed instrument-maker.

To preserve the cuatro’s history, Cumpiano created the nonprofit Puerto Rican Cuatro Project about 10 years ago. Its goal is to explore how the cuatro evolved, its role in traditional music, how its musical role changed over the centuries and why do Puerto Ricans love their cuatros?

He was joined by award-winning New York Times photojournalist Juan Sotomayor, who served as principal researcher, and Wilfredo Echevarria, a media communications expert, who handled the project’s documentary videos and graphic arts.

“When we found that literally there had been no field work done…

Finish reading Preserving A Part of Puerto Rican History – The “Cuatro”

View Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Preserving A Part of Puerto Rican History – The “Cuatro” | Repeating Islands

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

4d42da9435093.preview-620

In search of the great New Mexico chile pepper

Latina ListaAugust 27, 2015
rwb-donkeysplit

Three Connecticut Latino Incumbents Fight Democratic Party Machine

Latina ListaAugust 26, 2015
150824-bined_6

Border economic officials: ROOT CAUSE OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS POVERTY, INSECURITY AND LACK OF OPPORTUNITY

Latina ListaAugust 25, 2015
CMeP8WMWcAA-glg

Visualizing Illinois’ Cook County Jail’s population

Latina ListaAugust 24, 2015
google-inc-starts-work-on-fiber-optic-network-in-san-antonio-texas

San Antonio says ‘Bienvenidos’ to Google Fiber

Latina ListaAugust 20, 2015
The new 5-story condiminium being built on 18th St. and San Carlos St. in the Mission Wednesday August 13, 2015. Photo by Martin Bustamante

In a city where rising rents increasingly displace low-income residents, one San Francisco block’s rapid change triggers fear and hope

Latina ListaAugust 19, 2015
150817-psja_cslap

Rio Grande Valley alumni mentor students on going to college

Latina ListaAugust 18, 2015
be-the-match-2

Bone marrow donor program seeks Hispanics to help save lives of Hispanics

Latina ListaAugust 17, 2015
B9317064792Z.1_20150423151607_000_GQGAJCEVA.1-0

A Delaware Hispanic Heroine

Latina ListaAugust 13, 2015