Four sessions, Wednesdays, 3 PM and again at 6 PM

  • April 22 – Overview of Harp Music in Latin America: Three Great Traditions
  • April 29 – Arpa Paraguaya
  • May 6 – Mexico, Arpa Jarocha
  • May 13 – Venezuela and Colombia, Arpa Llanera

All harps in America date from Spanish conquest. Various regional and local traditions have evolved. When chromatic music arose in Europe, the harp died out there, but remained strong in Latin American folk traditions down to the present time.

This course is a research work in progress, with much yet to be discovered. We will be online for much of the time in class. I will also demonstrate with live performance, to the best of my limited ability. Links to online resources are posted on my website, After the first session, I will encourage participants to conduct their own internet searches and to share their discoveries in subsequent sessions.

April 22 - In this first session we will sample harp music from three major traditions: 

  • Llanera – This music comes from the plains of Colombia and Venezuela. Traditionally, the harp is played mostly by men, along with maracas and cuatro (4-stringed guitar-ukulele), as accompaniment for singers. Today, many women have taken up the harp, and there is more development of solo and group instrumental repertoire. Video: field recordings at Academia Llano y Joropo, in Bogotá, Colombia, July, 2014. Audio: various songs with harp accompaniment.

  • Jarocha – Mexico, eastern lowlands. “La Bamba” is derived from this tradition. Videos from Youtube: El Siquisiri (solo harp); La Petenera (ensemble, with vocal harmony); La Bruja (the witch) - a Halloween selection.

  • Paraguaya – Paraguay. This could be regarded as the most sophisticated of the Latin American harp traditions, with international fame. There is more emphasis on the solo instrument, although the folk tradition also includes songs. Harp arrived at this landlocked country with missionaries; natives readily adopted it and became very skilled and creative. Videos: Tren Lechero (milk train) by Nicolas Carter; Sueño de Angelita (Dreaming of Angelita), by Pedro Gaona; El Arpa y La Danza by Luis Bordon.

April 29 (Paraguaya), May 6 (Jarocha), May 13 (Llanera)

  • Each session will focus on the specific tradition;

  • Also presented will be any “outliers” from these traditions; smaller local and regional traditions (e. g. Southern Mexico, Central Venezuela, Peru); distinctive performers; musical fusions.

  • Participants are invited to share discoveries from their own online searches