If the Spanish conquistadores did terrible things to the original population of the American continents, they did one good thing too: they brought harps. Music was of course a great vehicle to spread the gospel, and the Iberian harp of the 16th and 17th C. was readily adopted in the folk music of what became Latin America. It was transformed too, but, altough there are (sometimes big) regional differences between various Latin harps, their common origin remains obvious.
My Latin harp is a Venezuelan arpa llanera ('harp of the plains'), made by the late Dutch harpmaker Hans den Brok. Its 32 strings are made of plain nylon and nylon-wound nylon. Claus Hüttel added a few hooks to the neck, so I can play a (limited) number of keys without having to retune for every new key. Altough retuning (and sticking to one key as much as possible) is what is normally done in Venezuela, an increasing number of Latin harps with semitone hooks or levers is being made.
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