La primera referencia que existe del uso del timple en canarias la encontramos en una visita realizada a fuerteventura por el obispo antonio tavira en 1792, donde el “tiplillo” servía de elemento sonoro que acompañó a la famosa “danza de las espadas”. a partir de de ahí se suceden las citas, siendo mucho más abundantes desde la segunda mitad del s.xix. conocido inicialmente como “tiple”, también se le conoció como “camellito” o “camelillo”, debido a la “peta” (joroba) o abultamiento de su tapa posterior. la primera referencia que existe del uso del timple en canarias la encontramos en una visita realizada a fuerteventura por el obispo antonio tavira en 1792, donde el “tiplillo” servía de elemento sonoro que acompañó a la famosa “danza de las espadas”. a partir de de ahí se suceden las citas, siendo mucho más abundantes desde la segunda mitad del s.xix. conocido inicialmente como “tiple”, también se le conoció como “camellito” o “camelillo”, debido a la “peta” (joroba) o abultamiento de su tapa posterior.

En relación al origen del timple, escasean los estudios que esclarezcan cuáles son los antecedentes de una forma clara y demostrada. Sin menoscabo de la posible influencia del continente africano, parece evidente su procedencia europea,  de lo cual da fe el parentesco ineludible con otras pequeñas guitarras de diferentes latitudes, como el charango de Bolivia, el cuatro venezolano, el ukelele hawaiano, el guitarro español o el cavaquinho portugués, instrumentos todos con un mismo entronque europeo.

Nacido del grupo de guitarras y vihuelas del renacimiento y el barroco, este tipo de instrumentos tomaron forma en diferentes lugares, todos ellos llevados por los europeos (tanto portugueses como castellanos) en sus idas y venidas por Canarias y Sudamérica. Pinturas e ilustraciones varias como las conocidas de Philippo Bonnani reproducidas en este panel, hacen clara referencia del claro entronque de estos pequeños instrumentos con la tradición europea del XVII y XVIII, aunque ya encontramos referencias del uso de este tipo de pequeños cordófonos desde el s. XV.

Diversos manuales para aprender a tocar, como el de Pablo Minguet (1752) o el de Andrés de Soto, editado en 1760, hacen alusión al “Tiple”, como una pequeña guitarra concebida para acompañar y hacer ruido. Reproducimos uno de sus párrafos:

El modo de formar los puntos en el Tiple, es lo mismo que en la Guitarra de cinco órdenes; pero para acompañar con la Guitarra se toca un punto mas alto en el Tiple, de forma que si en la Guitarra se toca por el tres, en el Tiple se debe tocar por el cuatro, y á ese tenor harás en todo lo demás, tocando por el Tiple un punto mas alto siempre que la Guitarra; y para que salga bien, meta ruido, y chille, es preciso redoblarle apriesa con la mano, y fuerte e modo que no se pierda el compás.

“Tiple” (o “discante”) viene a ser el más agudo de una familia de instrumentos. El término está repartido por muchas localidades de España y América y sirve para designar tanto instrumentos de viento (como el que se utiliza en Cataluña, muy similar a la chirimía), a instrumentos de cuerda o a la voz humana (la “tiple soprano” es la más aguda de las voces humanas).  En cuanto a su acepción en el archipiélago, de la derivación de “tiple” a “timple”, se explica por la añadidura de una “m” a través de un fenómeno lingüístico denominado “epéntesis”.

Los primeros constructores estables de timple los encontramos en la isla de Lanzarote, siendo de crucial importancia la figura de Simón Morales Tavío, que comenzó a fabricarlos de forma más sistemática a mediados del siglo XX. Su extensión a todas las islas y su arraigo dentro del folklore insular ha sido desigual, pero en poco más de dos siglos de historia se ha consolidado como uno de los portavoces más significativos de la música popular de Canarias.

THE FIRST REFERENCE ABOUT THE “TIMPLE” IN THE CANARY ISLANDS WAS RECORDED DURING BISHOP ANTONIO TAVIRA’S VISIT IN 1792. THIS LITTLE GUITAR-SHAPED INSTRUMENT WAS USED TO PLAY MUSIC AND TO ACCOMPANY THE FAMOUS “SWORD DANCE”. FROM THAT MOMENT, THE NAME OF THE INSTRUMENT, INITIALLY KNOWN AS “TIPLE”, WAS FREQUENTLY RECORDED IN WRITTEN DOCUMENTS, ESPECIALLY FROM THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY. THE TIMPLE WAS ALSO KNOWN AS “CAMELLITO” OR “CAMELILLO” (LITTLE CAMEL), DUE TO THE HUMP-SHAPED BACK OF THE INSTRUMENT BODY.

Regarding the origin of this unique instrument, little information has been found so as properly clarify its background. Although the timple might have its origin in Africa, its European background is more likely, due to the many similarities with other small guitar-like instrument coming from different areas, such as the charango from Bolivia, the cuatro from venezuela, the Hawaian ukelele, the Spanish guitarro and the Portuguese cavaquinho, all of wich share the same European source.

Born from the group of Renaissance and baroque guitars and vihuelas, this type of instruments adapted to the different places where they were taken by Europeans, especially Portuguese and Spanish travellers, during their visits to the Canary Islands and South America. Several paintings and drawings, such as Philippo Bonnani’s well known works, some of wich are displayed on this board, refer to clear relationship of these little instruments with the European traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries. However, there is written evidence about the use of little string instruments since the 15th century.

“Tiple” is the highest-pitched sound of a family of instruments. This term is used in many locations in Spain and America to describe the sound of wind instrument (such as those used in Catalonia, very similar to the so called chirimía), string instruments and the human voice. Regarding the name of the instrument in the Canary Islands, it was known as “tiple” for over one century. However, in the early 20th century, its name became “timple”. The derivation from “tiple” to “timple” is due to the epenthesis, a linguistic phenomenon which resulted in the audition of an “m”.

The first stable timple makers were found in Lanzarote, being Mr. Simón Morales Tavío a leading figure who started to systematically build timples in the mid 20th century. The spread of this instrument throughout the rest of the islands and its deep support in the Canary Islands folklore was uneven but a little more than two centuries of history have established timple as one of the leading elements of the popular music in the Canaries.

el timple pertenece a la familia de los instrumentos de cuerda pulsada. siguiendo la clasificación organológica habitual, es un cordófono y se puede describir a simple vista como una pequeña guitarra que se toca “rasgueando” con la mano derecha. es un instrumento agudo, muy sonoro y su función tradicional es servir de acompañante en las parrandas canarias.

the timple belongs to the family of string instruments pulsed following the regular organological classification, it’s a cordophone and it can be described simply as a single small guitar touched “rasgueando” with the right hand. it is an acute instrument, very sound and its traditional function it is to serve as a companion in the canary islands.

As for the ropes, these were initially animal gut, then fishing (still used) and in recent years have been imposed industrially manufactured, made of nylon or carbon fiber. The first and the fourth are the sharpest and are of equal diameter. The second and fifth are more serious than the previous ones and are also of equal diameter. Finally, the third is the most serious and thick of the five strings of the timple. The timple has five strings, but there is a controversy about the use with four or five on the islands, since in some areas of Tenerife, it is played with a late variant that the folklorists from Tenerife made to play the instrument more easily; custom that was popularized in the towns of the north of this island, it is possible that by influence of emigration, since when tuning the timple like this, it remains as a four (not as for the height of the notes, but in the ratio of the intervals between strings), with what in addition, the positions of the chords are the same as in a guitar without the sixth string. However, there has never been a timple built with four strings. What they did (and still do in some places) the parranderos of Tenerife was to remove the fifth string and change the tuning of the instrument, raising a semitone to the third so that the positions of the chords were similar to those of the guitar: we insisted on that more like a particular adaptation of some areas of Tenerife, than as a different type of timple.
As for the ropes, these were initially animal gut, then fishing (still used) and in recent years have been imposed industrially manufactured, made of nylon or carbon fiber. The first and the fourth are the sharpest and are of equal diameter. The second and fifth are more serious than the previous ones and are also of equal diameter. Finally, the third is the most serious and thick of the five strings of the timple. The timple has five strings, but there is a controversy about the use with four or five on the islands, since in some areas of Tenerife, it is played with a late variant that the folklorists from Tenerife made to play the instrument more easily; custom that was popularized in the towns of the north of this island, it is possible that by influence of emigration, since when tuning the timple like this, it remains as a four (not as for the height of the notes, but in the ratio of the intervals between strings), with what in addition, the positions of the chords are the same as in a guitar without the sixth string. However, there has never been a timple built with four strings. What they did (and still do in some places) the parranderos of Tenerife was to remove the fifth string and change the tuning of the instrument, raising a semitone to the third so that the positions of the chords were similar to those of the guitar: we insisted on that more like a particular adaptation of some areas of Tenerife, than as a different type of timple.