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Princess of Asturias Awards 10/13/2017

The Princess of Asturias Foundation organizes the exhibition entitled “Informal Instruments” in tribute to Les Luthiers, 2017 Princess of Asturias award for Communication and Humanities

The exhibition, which will run at the Revillagigedo Palace from this coming Sunday until Thursday, 19th October, includes 11 instruments created by the Argentinian group


The Princess of Asturias Foundation is to hold an exhibition entitled “Informal Instruments” within the framework of the cultural programme it carries out during the days prior to the Awards Ceremony at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo.  The exhibition, to be held between 15th and 19th October, will be housed on the first floor of the Revillagigedo Palace Cajastur-Liberbank Foundation Cultural Centre in Gijón (Plaza del Marqués, 2).

It comprises a selection of instruments invented and used by the Argentinian group Les Luthiers, 2017 Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, which parody formal instruments. The collection includes a “lirodoro” and a “barreltone bass”, simulating the lyre and the bass, respectively. The violin finds its version in the “latín” (a play on words in Spanish which means a small tin), the harmonium in the “bolarmonio” and the cello in the “cellato”, among others. Each instrument will be accompanied by a brief note explaining its origin.

The “Informal Instruments” exhibition forms part of the course of “The Les Luthiers Treasure Hunt”, which will take place this coming Sunday, between 11:30am and 2pm in Gijón, as part of the “Awards Week” cultural programme. 

APPENDIX: List of instruments created by Les Luthiers.


    The lirodoro parodies the lyre. It is a fretted chordophone built with a toilet seat to which are attached strings that come from the pegbox of a mandolin located at the top of the instrument. There are fine tuners at the other end of the strings, below the bridge. As in the lyre, the strings have a specific tuning that cannot be modified. As there is no sound box, the sound of the lirodoro has a very low intensity.
  2. LATÍN OR TIN VIOLIN (Three latíns)
    As an instrument parodying the violin, the latín is a stringed instrument whose soundbox is an empty tin of cooked ham. The remaining parts that make up this informal instrument come from the violin: the volute, pegbox, neck and bridge above the tin. It accordingly has four strings that end in a tailpiece with a very similar appearance to that of the classic instrument, with its chinrest. The tuning is therefore the same as that of the violin. It is played with a conventional bow.
    The cellato is to the cello what the latín is to the violin. It is also a fretted string instrument, although in this case, the soundbox is a tin of cleaning liquid. The volute, pegbox, neck and bridge are taken from a conventional cello. The cellato likewise incorporates four strings that aim to reproduce the sound of the original instrument. The informal instrument is completed with the tailpiece and endpin. It is tuned just like the cello. It is also played with a conventional bow.
    This is a low-pitched wind instrument that is composed of a main tube in which four cardboard tubes of different diameters are inserted, thus generating four distinct notes. The length of the tubes can be extended thanks to the telescopic rod, which functions like a trombone slide –also with an expanded aperture or bell at its end– allowing lower notes to be played. It is a large, heavy instrument that requires wheels so that it can be used.
    This is a metal wind instrument, with a hemispherical mouthpiece, bell and tube. The original instrument, which can be seen in this exhibition, used the tube from the bathroom heater (in Argentina, the heater is called a “calofón”), hence the name of this instrument. However, it was very difficult to play, so in the second version the tube of a trombone was used. 
    This wind instrument functions like a harmonium, i.e. like a portable wind instrument with keyboard, as the sound is generated by the air that drives each key, which in this case takes the form of a rubber ball. Being flexible, the balls allow a vibrato that depends on the pressure exerted on them. The air vibrates through metal reeds similar to those of the harmonium itself or a harmonica that are located inside tubes, thus providing a chromatic scale of more than one octave.    
    This instrument parodies the placement of baroque instruments of Italian nomenclature. Da braccio meant that the instrument was played on the arm; da gamba, between the legs. Here the instrument is placed on the head (da testa). Horn refers to the English musical instrument. Gom alludes to the rubber tube (de goma, in Spanish) that connects the piston tube with the bell, placed on the helmet.
    This parodies the Spanish guitar, and, like the latín and cellato, incorporates parts of the original guitar: neck, pegbox, truss rod and bridge. Its six strings produce the same pitch as the original instrument. It is sweet because the soundbox and the bridge and microphone that amplifies the sound are situated are located on two cans of sweet potato, which is also a play on words, as there are sweet flutes in formal organology.
    This is an instrument similar to tubular bells, an instrument composed of metal tubes of different lengths that are hit with a hammer and sound like bells. The main difference is that the hammer blow is actuated in the hammer campanophone by an external musical keyboard that triggers individual hammers for each tube.
    The cello legüero derives from the bombo legüero, a traditional membranophone (skin drum) in Argentinian folk music, which is used as a soundbox, and incorporates a volute, pegbox, neck, bridge and tailpiece from an ordinary cello, with its four strings and tuning. It can be played as a percussion instrument or as a stringed instrument.
    A parody of the contrabass, the barreltone bass is a barrel that the barreltone player must get inside and to which wheels have been added so it can be moved around. The remaining components come from the original string instrument: pegbox, neck, bridge and tailpiece. 

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