The Timple

From the early settlers until at least 1980, most of the villages were rural communities. It was a very hard life, held hostage to the lack of rain. You went to sleep when it got dark and woke up with the sun and you really did have to make your own fun.

An Article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura

Bernie Power

Most villages around the island have their own patron or special Saints and many of the Saint’s days were set aside for weddings, baptisms and requiems. As you can guess, this also meant that it was a time for fiesta or partying. Food and drinks were organised by the locals but what a party really needs is music and dancing!

Back then, there were no orchestras or piano’s around to organise a knees-up. But many rural men and women learned to play a string instrument. Carrying a guitar on what was then uneven roads or dusty tracks was a cumbersome task and so a very mobile form of the traditional guitar became popular. This is known nowadays as a Timple.

The Timple

It is a very small five- stringed instrument, similar to a ukulele but with a rounder back. It is plucked or strummed. Originally called a TIple meaning treble, due to it’s sound. It is easily portable and when played alone or with mandolins, guitars and nowadays saxophones and clarinets and alike, has a beautiful bright bird-like sound.

Classical Canarian Timple

The Timple originated in the Canaries and is still a very popular instrument on Fuerteventura today. There are a couple of bars called The Timple and the Timple Majorero in Puerto del Rosario and every week there is an exhibition of the skills from a different town in the Canaries shown on T.V. called Tenderete. They play traditional songs and dances, accompanied by the timple and other instruments. Many of the songs are emotional, relating to the emigrations the island underwent in times of drought and famine, but to see music played with such heart is truly beautiful especially while the dancers act out the words. The happy songs are really upbeat and cheery and on one show I even saw them playing their own version of the bagpipes!

Concerts in Canaries

There are a lot of concerts that take place on the island and the tourist office is usually a good source of information regarding the dates and locations of the larger, more officially organised ones. They are often free to enter and are usually of exceptional quality and well worth attending. However, you will also see impromptu performances given by the enthusiastic locals around the resorts. Sometimes you will see one or two of the older generation sitting outside a tapas bar, playing or singing along quite happily whilst they enjoy a glass of wine or two. You will also find them in main shopping centres or busy areas in the evening, where five or six sombrero wearing gents in formal black and white traditional costume, will burst into song.

Timple tenderete in Fuerteventura

South American Influences

Many of the popular tunes have a south American influence, due to the emigrations from the past and even nowadays  some people refer to them as Paranda bands. When you see them you will notice they are not dissimilar to Mariachi bands, particularly when they play the happier rhythms. Every gathering, fiesta or family get together will include a timple player who will come along and encourage everyone to sing the songs they all knew and loved. So, as Canarian day is on the horizon, you are bound to hear one during your stay. It is a unique, typical Canarian experience and a glimpse into the sights and sounds of a time gone by.