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

Arizona Activists Hold Vigil To Protest New Immigration Law At White House

Court affirms ruling that Maricopa deputies used race in traffic stops

Latina ListaApril 16, 2015
16-el-pasado-cast-lyr150328-498-ctodd-rosenberg-j-20150329

World’s first mariachi opera

Latina ListaApril 15, 2015
mzm.movckwox

AARP Recognizes CT’s Latino Demographic

Latina ListaApril 14, 2015
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Growers Move to Gut California’s Farm Labor Law

Latina ListaApril 13, 2015
Cesar-Chavez-March-2012

The legacy of César E. Chávez continues

Latina ListaApril 10, 2015
garcia-040815-06.JPG

Emanuel ‘humbled’ by second term win and Garcia declares “we worked together”

Latina ListaApril 9, 2015
IMG_0649

Family History and DNA Link New Mexicans to Mexico

Latina ListaApril 8, 2015
DSC_0013_8

Border tattoo artists pleased to see their work gaining ‘fine art’ recognition

Latina ListaApril 7, 2015
Pedro-Ortiz

Latino gunsmith on target

Latina ListaApril 6, 2015