To Sing by Improvising (Pa’ cantar de un improviso)

Music piece by:
Violeta Parra
Testimony by:
Claudio Durán Pardo

We made a Venezuelan cuatro from a large plank of wood attached to one of the walls of the "ranch" where we ate.

I had wanted a Venezuelan cuatroLatin American string instrument of the guitar family. National instrument of Venezuela and Puerto Rico. ever since Violeta Parra had taught us that Latin American music has no boundaries; she played the cuatro in her songs in a masterly way, which I wanted to imitate. Her children, Ángel Parra and Isabel Parra, had recorded a song in 1970, very charming and catchy, and we wanted to do it: "Pa’ cantar de un improviso" (To sing by improvising). To do so without a cuatro would not be the same.

After much work, help and dedication we built a cuatro from that plank of wood, with the assistance of another prisoner who had some experience as a luthier. So we finally had a brand new, captivating and captive cuatro, to sing to the three hundred souls of Puchuncaví.


Published on: 23 December 2014

In order to sing extemporaneously
good talent is needed,
memory and understanding,
the strength of a fierce fighting rooster.

In what hail storm
must words flourish,
Even the devil would be astonished
with so many beautiful reasons
as in the conversations
between St. Peter and St. Paul.

Being the first time
that I sing in this house,
Glory to the Father, glory to the Son,
glory to the Holy Ghost.

You're petite and pretty,
Too bad you're so crazy,
You’re like an old guitar
anyone who wants can play you.

Yesterday when I wanted you
you seemed like a bright star
and now that I don’t love you,
Geez, what a ferocious beast!

A friend’s wife
must be loved
because helping her to love,
is an act of charity.

I like to sing with all my strength
and that people hear my voice
so that in hell they know
that on earth there is a singer.

I'm leaving, now I’m going,
I leave you with a song,
I leave you in tears.