The Paraguayan Harp

The Paraguayan Harp : From Colonial Transplant to National Emblem

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How did a music instrument transplated to South America by colonial Jesuit missionaries earn the official designation as Paraguay's cultural national symbol? This ethnomusicological and organological study of the Paraguayan diatonic harp in the twentieth century tells its story as an emblematic national musical instrument. First used liturgically by Jesuit missions in colonial times, the transplanted European diatonic harp was transformed and adopted into the folk music vocabulary of Paraguay and the Rio de la Plata region. Following the commercial success of Paraguayan harpist Felix Perez Cardozo in the 1930s in Argentina, the instrument's symbolic value as an icon of social, cultural, and national identity was articulated in local traditions such as popular folk music festivals. It received designation of arpa paraguaya (Paraguayan harp) and, in 2010, official recognition as simbolo de la cultura nacional (cultural national symbol). The author's fieldwork in Paraguay and continuous contact with composers, educators, festival organizers, harp performers, researchers, and festival organizers have provided unique insights into the development of the Paraguayan harp tradition as a cultural icon of the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 196 pages
  • 160.02 x 233.68 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 12 black & white illustrations, 23 black & white halftones
  • 073919819X
  • 9780739198193

About Alfredo Colman

Alfredo C. Colman is associate professor of musicology and ethnomusicology at Baylor more

Review quote

Alfredo Colman's book is written with great clarity, sprinkled with many technical notes in beautiful Guarani, the language of Paraguay's native people. His in-situ knowledge and personal experience are essential because, in Latin America, information about music for the 'lower income masses,' with the exception of ceremonial religious music, has always been rather scarce...Tracing the use of the harp in Paraguay among the Guarani people, in the Jesuit reductions, and into the contemporary moment of official recognition, Colman's exposition is well supported by relevant evidence throughout, and this highly recommended book makes a strong case that the harp is deservedly one of Paraguay's national emblems. Journal of Folklore Research In the world of Latin American traditional music, the Paraguayan harp is a giant. For the past half century, its international prominence has far outstripped its homeland's relatively small population of seven million. It has been adopted by musicians in virtually every country of the mainland Americas, and an authoritative account of its history and ascendancy is decades overdue. Paraguayan musicologist Alfredo Colman is the ideal teller of this story, a story filled with close encounters with pivotal personalities, origin myths unmasked, and the powerful potential of a musical instrument to represent a people. -- Daniel Sheehy, Curator and Director, Smithsonian Folkways Recordingsshow more

Table of contents

Preface Chapter One: A Personal Note Chapter Two: A Musical Instrument, A Symbol of Identity Chapter Three: The Setting Chapter Four: Harps, Harpists, and Luthiers Chapter Five: The Music of the Paraguayan Harp Chapter Six: Traditional Music in the Discourses Surrounding Cultural Performances Conclusion Appendix Bibliography Selected Discography Websitesshow more