The Paraguayan Harp

paraguayan harp from wikiFew countries consider music so important that they actually designate a national instrument.  Not so in Paraguay, where it’s beautiful and distinctive harp and harp music are considered national treasures and are loved throughout the region and the world.

Although there are many harps found in Europe, South America and across the globe, the Paraguayan harp is distinctively light, weighing only about 8 to 10 pounds. Tuned to a diatonic scale, the Paraguayan harp can have 32, 36, 38, 40, 42 or 46 strings and stands about 4 ½ to 5 feet tall.

But why talk about a Paraguayan harp, when you can listen to one?  Here are four videos our favorite Paraguayan harp songs along with a bit of description and explanation.

400 Harps Play The Song “Pajaro Campana”

A classic of Paraguayan folk music, here you see 400 harps (yes, really 400 harps!) perform this beloved song.  What is a pajaro campana?  Literally a “bell bird”, most people agree that it’s the name for a bird heard around the capital city of Asunción whose call sounds like a bell.

This mega-concert for harps was held at the “Plaza Uruguaya” on July 15, 2012 to mark the 475th anniversary of the capital city of Asunción, Paraguay.

Pajaro Campana  (The Bell Bird) Performed By Mariano y Ernesto

Here’s a second version of the same song.  This time, you can hear two harps playing together in the form of a duet.

Harpist, Celso Duarte Plays The Song “Iguana “

Videotaped at a family concert in Carnegie Hall  Dec 11, 2012, you can hear the distinctive voice of the Paraguayan harp as well as an ensemble of folk musicians playing shekere, quijada, upright bass and even dancing on a wooden box!

Moliendo Café Performed By Nicolas Carter on Paraguyan Harp

Moliendo Café means “grinding coffee” in English. The song was written by composer, Hugo Blanco and has a beautiful and haunting melody.  Performed here as an instrumental by harpist, Nicolas Carter, lyrics to the song are below the video clip.

Moliendo Café By Hugo Blanco

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

(bis)

Una pena de amor, una tristeza

Lleva el sambo Manuel en su amargura

Pasa incansable la noche

Moliendo café.

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

Una pena de amor, una tristeza

Lleva el sambo Manuel en su amargura

Pasa incansable la noche

Moliendo café.

Cuando la tarde languidece

Renacen las sombras

Y en su quietud los cafetales

Parecen decir

Esa triste canción de amor

De la vieja molienda

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

Que en el letargo de la noche

Se deja sentir.

———

Main Photo – Photo Credit By Aij (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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