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476 Reviews

ska has a past, middle and present and events like the yearly International Ska
Festival in London confirm this. Augustyn assures us that ska is truly alive and
well after all, ska is the rhythm of liberation.

Shara Rambarran
Queens University, Canada
shararambarran@yahoo.co.uk

The Paraguayan Harp. From Colonial Transplant to National Emblem. By


Alfredo Colman. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015. 185 pp. ISBN 978-0-
7391-9819-3
doi:10.1017/S0261143016000507
The same image opens and closes this book. It shows Ismael Ledesma, a well-known
harpist and Paraguayan composer, during his performance in Hamburg in 2011.
Besides the place that Ledesma occupies in the music harp scene in Paraguay, the
image shows him in profile, playing the harp, with his long hair that ends in a
plait, wearing a black shirt with fine embroidery and using a headset microphone.
This photograph illustrates the content of this book where the author promotes a dis-
cussion about aspects of traditions, ethnicity, modernity and musical practice in
Paraguay, focussed on the history of harp and on a socio-political process that is
part of the construct of concept of nation, a term that refers to the country as a cul-
turally produced entity with specific social, historical, and cultural values (p. 3).
Written in English, The Paraguayan Harp frequently uses some words in
Spanish. However, still more fascinating and suggestive is the use of some expres-
sions in Guaran language, for it defines key concepts about identity and idiosyn-
crasy of Paraguayan culture. For instance, expressions such as paraguayidad or tek
are cited as part of a socio-political project linking current cultural values to the
Spanish conquest and colonial period during which Paraguayan culture was infused
with a mixture of Iberian and Guaran social customs, values, and beliefs (p. 3).
Organised in six chapters, plus a Conclusion and Appendix, the book informs
readers about the world of harp in Paraguay; technical aspects and materials used in
harp-making, the major competitions and festivals, musical genres and styles, reper-
toires, the relationship between popular harp and academic world, and the most im-
portant performers. From a historic and ethnographic approach, Colman researched
into the transition from rural and traditional world expressed as koygu (farmers),
which can also encompass another two concepts, ore poriah (we the poor) and ane
(speaking Guaran) (p. 27) to the urban, cosmopolitan and modern aspects in
the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His research continues until the official legit-
imation by the Paraguayan government in 2010, which declared the Paraguayan harp
as symbol instrument of national culture (p. 85).
The subtitle From Colonial Transplant to National Emblem is perhaps a little am-
bitious. For instance, Chapter 6 is somewhat brief, and in just a few pages the author
gives information about the arrival of the harp from Europe to Latin America, asso-
ciated with the Conquest and Colonial period. Even the pages about the presence of
the harp within the Jesuit missions aspects that should include other regions from
South America as well are far too brief.

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Reviews 477

The notions of arpero popular (traditional harpist) and arpista profesional (profes-
sional harpist) are the core of the musical tradition in Paraguay. Arpero refers to
musicians who represent the strongest link with traditional music, expressed by
oral instruction and characterised as being unsophisticated individual and nostalgic
figures from the past (p. 58). On the other hand, arpista profesional refers to the status
of a modern artist who is distinguished by professional musical labour in the cul-
tural industry, based on different roles such as arrangers, composers, performers,
recording artists and harp instructors (p. 58). Designations such as folklore de
proyeccin and msica de inspiracin folclrica are used as a specific kind of musical
revival linked to standard genres such as polcas and guaranias. They all refer to col-
lective musical practice denominated as conjunto, that includes harp and guitars, and
promoted by radio, the recording industry and live performances. It is into the world
of arpista profesional that the image of the male harp soloist emerges. Thus, only one
woman is included as part of the Appendix, the arpista profesional Raquel Lebrn
(p. 154).
Two names and one song entitled Guyr Campana (The Bell Bird) are fre-
quently cited along this book. The authors use the expressions before and after
Flix Prez Cardozo (19081952) and before and after Luis Bordn (19262006)
(p. 21). Prez Cardozo was the first Paraguayan harpist to achieve success in
Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, where he achieved international recognition
for harp and Paraguayan music during the earliest decades of the twentieth cen-
tury. His many contributions to the harp repertoire are contained in recordings,
compositions and arrangements, such as his version of Guyr Campana,
where he developed new technical resources and effects such as bordoneado, trem-
olo and glissando. In addition, Cardozo contributed to some changes in harp-
making with the Paraguayan luthier Epifanio Lpez. On the other hand, Luis
Bordn was responsible for the designation of the diatonic harp as the
Paraguayan harp, and he was the first Paraguayan musician to give solo harp
recitals of Paraguayan and Latina American traditional music, and the one who
recorded the first album for harp that was produced in Brazil. The last point illus-
trates a singular feature of Paraguayan idiosyncrasy, the necessity of accepting as
authentic the value of a musical instrument or artists only if they have reached
success or recognition abroad before.
This book has plenty of images such as photographs of harps and perfor-
mers, posters and some examples of Western traditional music notation that illus-
trate genres and techniques. Among the photographs, as well as the on the cover,
I highlight Figure 6.1, showing the folkloric orchestra of Aristbulo Nonn
Dominguez dated August 1927. As Bourdieu noted about the relationship be-
tween farmer and photograph, by contrasts of knowledge and experience, It
locates to each one in order to their lineage (Bourdieu 2003, p. 54). This photo-
graph reveals key aspects about ethnicity and ideas of folklore. One can compare
the character, attitude, presence and appearance of Dominguez in the middle of
the image with the rest of musicians, some of whom barefoot and showing
their musical instruments (p. 101).
In brief, this book offers a careful and well-documented view of local dis-
courses on the harp in Paraguay with its most relevant exponents. Focused mainly
on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there are limited references to the pres-
ence of harps in others countries of Latin America. For this reason it is necessary to
mention other harps such as arpa llanera in Venezuela and Colombia and arpa andina

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478 Reviews

in Peru, as the lack of reference to the them could cast doubt on the importance of
nationalism, authenticity and traditional and popular music in the rest of Latin
America.

Mauricio Valdebenito
Universidad de Chile, Chile
mvaldebe@u.uchile.cl

Reference
Bourdieu, P. 2003. Creencia artstica y bienes simblicos: Elementos para una sociologa de la cultura (Argentina,
Aurelia Rivera)

Editors note
Any opinions expressed in the Reviews section remain those of the reviewers, who
are also responsible for the accuracy of their reviews. We regret that we are unable
to enter into correspondence about reviews.

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