The Tres in Puerto Rico and Cuba
by William R. Cumpiano-Puerto Rican Cuatro Project
and Ramón M. Goméz-Organización Sambumbia
with the additional contribution of Benjamin Lapidus-ethnomusicologist and director of Sonido Isleño
|We wish to also recognize as an important source an article in the Cuban textbook Instrumentos de la Música Folclórico-Popular de Cuba, Volumen 2, [Instruments of Folkloric-Popular Music of Cuba, Volume 2] about the Tres written by the researcher, Carmen María Sáenz Coopat, who is a collaborator to the Cuatro Project, published by the Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Música Cubana [Center for the Research and Development of Cuban Music] 1997, La Habana de Cuba, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales [Social Sciences publishing house], and which due to the embargo is not available in the United States.|
|The Tres is generally unknown among many otherwise knowledgeable fans of fretted stringed instruments, yet it is a vital expressive tool that has shaped the sound of Latin American music since the last century.
Note: Cuban tres players often call themselves treseros; while Puerto Ricans playing the tres often call themselves tresistas. We will follow that custom.
A small offering:
Here is a wonderful introduction to the Tres: the great singer and arranger for the Los Guaracheros del Oriente and for Arsenio Rodríguez, Israel Berrios, sings for us a medley of his arrangements of the standards Temporal and Qué Bonita Bandera, with Charlie Rodríguez on the Tres.
A gift from the Cuatro Project: Downnload a booklet of tres chords that we have prepared in Acrobat pdf format.
Here we offer a translation of Carmen María Sáenz Coopat's research on the Tres for Center for Research and Promotion of Cuban Music [Centro de Investigación y desarrolo de la Música Cubana]
Mario Hernández, arguably the greatest Puerto Rican tresista, at the height of his career.
None of these instruments follow a rational artistic pattern in their manner of construction; their low material value results from their being made by the jíbaros themselves, whom most of the time must rely on barely appropriate tools while making them. It would be interesting to point out the process of bifurcation that the previously-mentioned national stringed instruments have followed: within them, the way guitars and bandurrias are made persists, but the lack of tools has influenced their not being able to be made as perfectly as the models that the Spaniards brought from the Metropolis.
In this way, unique native variants of gut and wire string instruments called tiple, bandolina, tres, and cuatro would endure in the Americas long after the Spanish retired back to Europe at the end of the last century.