Recently the musician Leonardo Martinelli, creator of the band Tremor, crossed the span of the country (Buenos Aires to Santiago del Estero, Argentina) in a bus in search of a new sound and a special instrument, the sachaguitarra.
We sat down with Leo and asked him to tell us about the journey.
WUBA: Tell me the story of this trip, this instrument. Where did it come from?
LEO: I discovered the existence of this instrument a few years ago on a trip to Santiago del Estero. La Sachaguitarra was created by the luthier and musician Elpidio Herrera in 1971. Despite the instrument's 39 year history, he says that no more than 3 exist in the hands of musicians other than himself and his son Manolo. The instrument is like a small guitar, but the body is made from a large gourd called a porongo. It has a small opening in the front where you insert a small bow, like with a violin, except it’s only 12 centimeters long. The Sachaguitarra sounds like a guitar, charango and violin. That sound was immediately interesting to me and I began to imagine the possibilities of making music with it.
What is it that attracted you to this instrument and sound?
I was attracted to the same thing that attracts me to folklore: the feeling and sensibility, but charged with a harshness, with a certain roughness. Those who have listened to Tremor know that we like to play with textures and what is usually considered noise. The Sachaguitarra is related to the violin, but it’s a crude instrument with lots of character.
Tell me more about the instrument and the man who made it.
Don Elpidio lives in Villa Atamishqui, in the province of Santiago del Estero. He still lives in the house where he was born and spent all of his life. I went to look for the instrument on a non-stop 39-hour trip. We spent the time I was there sitting on the patio of his house, playing music, chatting, and sharing wine.
Elpidio has a young spirit and is a person that still looks for new sounds and wants to perfect his creations. I’m attracted to people that don’t restrict themselves to what they have already done. And above all, it grabs your attention when you see things in a person of his age that you don’t find in anyone of my generation.
How do you see Tremor’s future?
At the moment we’re working on what will be Tremor’s third album. What I can say is that the sound is changing, that there are many new instruments. In addition to the Sachaguitarra, we are experimenting with Mapuche instruments and with using the human voice like an instrument, among other things. I think that our new album is going to be more emotionally direct, but more musically complex. I see an intense future with powerful sounds.
Check out Tremor on stage this Friday at La Peña Electrica & Zizek Club