Wednesday, November 26th 2008 [ spanish version ]
Visto mis mejores galas
En música campesina
Y viajo por cada esquina
De la décima en sus salas
Tú público me regala
El amor y la ternura
Y hoy siento la investidura
Como en la luna de miel
Si en el Figueroa Chapel
El Colegio hace cultura
(I wear my best clothes
On music of the countryside
I have traveled to each corner
Of the décima in her rooms
Your audience gives me
Love and tenderness
And today I feel the investment
As on ones honeymoon
If at Figueroa Chapel
The first seminar on “trova” (ballads) Between Décimas and Seises (traditional Puerto Rican music genres) and the Puerto Rican cuatro (musical instrument similar to the guitar, but smaller), took place this past November 12, in the Ramón Figueroa Chapel Amphitheatre, and was organized by the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies (DECEP by its Spanish acronym) of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM). The seminar was given by Julio César Sanabria, troubadour and entrepreneur belonging to one of the most well known families on the Island for its members’ musical careers as traditional Puerto Rican artists.
The seminar was given by Julio César Sanabria, a Puerto Rican troubadour from one of the most well known families in the country.
The troubadour clarified that the décima exists in places outside of Puerto Rico, a fact that surprised him when was only 16 years old and became aware of this information.
“The décima is also practiced in more than 27 Spanish speaking countries, and not only is it practiced in Spanish but in Catalonian, French, and Portuguese as well, in perfect rhymes,” he explained. “I was even more astonished when I was invited to various conventions, at the international level, in places such as the Canary Islands, Cuba, Haiti, and Uruguay, where I was able to see that the décima exists in places outside of Puerto Rico.” He added that each country has its own particular style, but the décima is always rich in metaphors, similes, personifications and figurative language.
Sanabria also spoke about the creation of the décima in Ronda, Spain, and about its creator Vicente Martínez Espinel, who added the sixth chord to the guitar, as well as contributing many other important additions to Spanish literature.
“One of the grammatical expressions that he created was the décima, which was composed of ten lines, octosyllabic, with one harmony,” Sanabria indicated.
He also told those in attendance, the history of the genre in Puerto Rico, which began in the time of the Spanish colonization of the Island. He indicated that the décima was established in Puerto Rico, principally, by agriculturists from the Canary Islands who also brought with them other musical genres such as Christmas Carols, sung rosaries, and of course, the décima.
The people of the countryside began to improvise the décima, to write it, sing it to the women planting, to sing it to nature, to sing it planting sugar cane, to their farm, and in the morning when they woke up,” said Sanabria.
The youngest of the male members of the family, Sanabria emphasized that the Puerto Rican décima has been evolving and that, in all actuality, Puerto Rico with 160 seises, is the country that has the most genres to accompany the décima. Among Puerto Rican exponents from the past, he mentioned Germán Rosario, Chuíto “El de Bayamón”, Moralito, Ángel Luis García, Ramito, who “although didn’t go to school, were educated because they read a lot.” He also mentioned his father, Leopoldo Sanabria, who wrote a book on the subject, his brothers and Alfonso Vélez, who he indicated as one of the artists who has most given life to the Puerto Rican décima.
The Puerto Rican cuatro took its place at center stage in the hands of cuatrist Benito “Junior” Carillo.
On the other hand, among the young troubadours with the responsibility of the Puerto Rican décima, he noted Omar Santiago, Eduardo and Ricardo Villanueva, Roberto Silva, Arturito Santiago and Jovino González.
The singer took advantage of the occasion to lament that the traditional Puerto Rican music is only played on the radio during the Christmas season, and urged those present to join him in an effort to change this.
During the activity, the Puerto Rican cuatro, accompanied by its excellency the Puerto Rican décima, took center stage with “his girlfriend the guitar”- in the hands of cuatrist Benito “Junior’ Carillo for interpretations of various décimas with the different pies forzaos as requested by the audience. His group Caobaná accompanied Sanabria, while doctor Edgar León, Auxiliary Director of DECEP, was in charge of the güiro (percussion instrument).
The seminar was a pre-amble to a continuing education course that Sanabria will offer, sponsored by DECEP, next January. For more information on this topic call 787-832-4040 ext. 3054 or 3058.
The group Caobaná accompanied Sanabria in his interpretations.
Photographs by Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press