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The requinto and the guitar, the main instruments in the corridor of Ecuador

A family that has been dedicated to the art of making string instruments for three generations tells of the importance of these.

Its strings cry close to the hearts of the musicians. The requinto and the guitar are the main instruments of corridor of Ecuador, the poetic musical rhythm that Unesco has just designated Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Fine woods such as mahogany, maple, ebony and cedar are taking shape in the workshop in Quito of the Chiliquinga, a family of luthiers which has been dedicated to the art of making string instruments for three generations.

Jenny Estrada Ruiz, on the corridor as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, says that ‘it is very significant for Ecuador’

About the guitar and the requinto -which is similar but somewhat smaller– The corridor falls and “they are a set of harmonies and melodies”, explains the musician Marcelo Sánchez, considered one of the best contemporary Ecuadorian requintistas.

The corridor is the son of the waltz, but only in the Ecuadorian Andes did it reach a unique height and tonality.

“Cry guitar because you are my voice of pain / shout his name again if he did not hear you”, sings Julio Jaramillo, the Ecuadorian idol.

“They are musicalized poems that speak of life, death, everyday things (…). It is music that has such a high artistic level that it speaks of everything one can feel, “says Hugo Chiliquinga, who inherited his father and grandfather’s mastery of wood.

One more vocalist

But the brightness of the Ecuadorian corridor is also due to the sound of the instruments, made by skilled and delicate hands in workshops such as that of the Chiliquinga family.

The requinto – which sets the melody – “is practically another vocalist, he does what the interpreter cannot say in words, he speaks through his strings,” says Sánchez.

In the Chiliquinga workshop each “jewel” it can take two months to be put together to sell for up to $ 7,000.

The Ecuadorian corridor is designated Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco

Its hundreds of clients include emblematic trios such as Los Panchos and Los Tres Reyes, the Spanish guitarist Tomatito, and the musicians Andrés Cepeda and Daniel Uribe (both from Colombia) and Jerry Rivera (Puerto Rico).

Glue jars are everywhere in the space where Hugo Chiliquinga works the wood to make the lids of the instruments.

The guitar, “being an instrument that is close to the heart, transmits one’s emotions (…). It’s like the heart sings through the six strings, ”says the 27-year-old craftsman.

Sánchez -with 32 years of musician- intones the hall that he likes the most: Different paths, by the Ecuadorian composer Jorge Araujo. And he says: “A guitar can sound beautiful playing it in the classical style, but a requinto cannot sound alone if it is not with a guitar as well.”

“That’s where you really feel the right feeling of what the rhythm is, what the hall is,” he adds.

Own identity

The requinto arrived in Ecuador through Guillermo Rodríguez from Quito, known as the Golden Requinto of America, that in 2020 he died at the age of 97.

But it is every October 1, date of birth of Julio Jaramillo, called the nightingale of america and one of the main exponents of the genre, which since 1993 Ecuador celebrates the Day of the Hall. The artist passed away in 1978 at the age of 42.

Its tuning is in the note a and five semitones or two and a half tones higher than that of the guitar (in E), and it began to gain fame in Mexico in the golden age of romantic trios, Chiliquinga notes.

The wood artist began building instruments as a child. “I was born between the sawdust, between the covers” of guitars.

“Music reflects our identity,” adds the young man, who is a luthier by his own art as was his father, after whom he bears his name and who died in 2011 at the age of 70.

“The new generations should be closer to our music, more taste for it, because Ecuador is a country that has so much recognition abroad in terms of music, but that sometimes we do not value it right here,” he says between resonance boxes and masts waiting to be mated. (I)

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