AMIS 2022: The Puerto Rican Tiple Requinto Costero—From the Museum Collection to its Revival

The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) promotes better understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, restoration, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods. In June 2022, their annual meeting was held at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

The Puerto Rican Tiple Requinto Costero: From the Museum Collection to its Revival (Remote)
William Cumpiano, Noraliz Ruiz, and Norman Storer Corrada

William Cumpiano has created hundreds of individually crafted guitars and other stringed instruments in the European, North American, and Latin American traditions. He is the co-author of Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology, a recognized textbook in guitar-making. Cumpiano is co-founder of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project, an organization dedicated to studying, preserving, and promoting the musical and musical-craft traditions surrounding the cuatro family of musical instruments created in Puerto Rico since the eighteenth century.

Noraliz Ruiz holds a PhD in ethnomusicology-musicology from Kent State University. Her research focuses on the Puerto Rican lutes cuatro, tiple, and bordonúa, particularly in the continuity and change of the instruments’ tradition and performance practice. She has taught various courses in popular music at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. Noraliz is a member of the electronic indie band Balún and an associate researcher of Colectivo de Estudios Musicales de Puerto Rico.

Norman Storer Corrada is a master’s student in the George Washington University Museum Studies program. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, he received his BA at Harvard University and worked as the Dumbarton Oaks Humanities Fellow at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. He will be a curatorial intern with the National Museum of American History Musical Instruments Collection in Spring 2022. His interests include Caribbean and Latin American history and music, organology, and material culture.

The field of Puerto Rican music history has defined a distinctive native family of lutes, namely, the cuatro, the tiple, and the bordonúa. Since the first half of the twentieth century, the cuatro has reached an advantageous position in the cultural memory of Puerto Ricans as it has been frequently used in the archipelago’s folk and popular music expressions and regarded as a highly revered symbol of national identity. Although written records dating back to the nineteenth century reference the use of the three-member lute family, the cuatro’s popularity and its promotion through an official cultural and national program resulted in the displacement of the other two instruments. As the cuatro overshadowed the tiple and the bordonúa, their use and construction became uncommon. Recently, however, both instruments have been objects of study and research among scholars, luthiers, musicians, and cultural institutions from Puerto Rico that seek to raise awareness of these lutes and reintroduce their use in folk music practice. These efforts have been especially successful at renewing interest in the tiple doliente from the region of Morovis, albeit at the expense of other regional variations of the instrument. This presentation examines the latest initiative to rescue and increase the visibility of one of these extinct regional variants, the tiple requinto costero. In 1898, the Smithsonian collected three tiples in Ponce, Puerto Rico, which remained mostly unknown on the archipelago for over a century and have now become the focus of efforts to revive the construction and performance of the tiple requinto costero. Museologist Norman Storer Corrada describes the instruments and their collection context, while renowned luthier William Cumpiano details the construction process of replicas of these tiples, and ethnomusicologist Noraliz Ruiz examines the implications and the importance of this finding for Puerto Rican music historiography.

Watch more videos from the 2022 AMIS Conference here.