By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Associated with Colombia, the tiple is considered the national instrument and the most characteristic chordophone of the Andean music of this country.
It is an instrument of the guitar family, similar in appearance although slightly smaller to the classic guitar, which usually has 12 strings grouped in four tripled courses. The first group is tuned in unison (to the same note) while in the second, third and four groups the central one is tuned one octave lower than the outer two strings. Traditional tuning from lowest to highest is C-E-A-D, although some modern tiplistas (tiple players) tune the instrument like the upper four strings of the modern guitar (D-G-B-E). Strings can be plucked (performed by the melodic soloist, or when playing the melody and accompaniment together) or strummed (as harmonic accompaniment). In the first case the strings can be plucked with the fingers or with a plectrum, which was traditionally made of different materials, including the popular razor blade. The first group consists of three steel strings, while the second, third and fourth groups used to have a copper string, which at present is more likely to be brass- or bronze-wound steel, in the middle of two steel strings.
Although its origins remain contested, it is believed that the tiple is an adaptation of the Renaissance guitar brought to present-day Colombia territory during the colonial period, which would have evolved to its present shape at the end of the 19th century. The instrument is used to play "Andean" rhythms of Colombia, such as the bambuco, the guabina, the torbellino and the pasillo. It is very popular in the department of Santander and the Cundiboyacense plateau. The tiple also accompanies the traditional "trova antioqueña" or "trova paisa", spontaneous or improvised singing from the department of Antioquía.
Video 01. "El tiple", in Expedición Sonora.
Video 02. "Bambuco en La menor", by Oriol Caro.
Video 03. "Bambuco de la suite #2", by Tatiana Naranjo.
Video 04. "Torbellino de la suite #1", by Oriol Caro.
Video 05. "Reflejos", by Oriol Caro.