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Saint Paul SundayRumillajta

Bill McGlaughlin Interviews Rumillajta

Juan Carlos Cordero and Bill in the Saint Paul Sunday studio
Juan Carlos Cordero and Bill in the Saint Paul Sunday studio.

The following are excerpts of Saint Paul Sunday host Bill McGlaughlin's discussions with Rumillajta during their 1997 recording session in Saint Paul. The text of each question and answer is followed by an audio clip of the same conversation.

Bill: It's an amazing thing ­ the language of music is not universal in a simple way, but it's universal in a very deep way. The language you speak and the instruments you play are unfamiliar to us, but we can hear a lot of the rhythmic impulse ­ the dance impulse. I can imagine that when you play this in concert the audience must get up and dance with you. Has that ever happened?

Juan Carlos: Yes. This is music that makes you move, you know, in rhythm. So we always dance to these rhythms.

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Bill: When I listen to Rumillajta play, I hear not only great energy and great dance rhythms, but also reflection and melancholy, and I wonder where that comes from in this music.

Jorje: Yes, it reflects the sadness of our people after being discovered by the Spanish 500 years ago.

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Bill: It is you, Adrian Villanueva, who makes most of the instruments Rumillajta performs on ­ why do you make your own instruments?

Adrian: We make our own instruments because we need our instruments to be of good quality, and at the same time we want to share these instruments with the world.

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Bill: Tell me, what does the name mean, Rumillajta?

Juan Carlos: "Rumillajta" is a Quechua word ­ [Quechua is] known as the Inca language, a very ancient language. Rumillajta means "city" or "ruins of stone." It involves everything that is in a place, like families, life, you know.

Bill: A whole civilization.

Juan Carlos: Also the people ... they have kept our culture for so many hundreds of years. That's why we still have our own instruments, our own music, and our own languages. [The name, Rumillajta,] is trying to reflect those important things from our society.

Bill: I think it's a wonderful gift that you make to all of us, because it's ... like a telescope where you look back a very long way. I mean here we are playing in the 1990s in this radio studio in Saint Paul and it's a way to look long, long before the Spanish conquistadors came, and the music is very moving to hear.

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Answers translated by Juan Carlos.

For more audio clips of Bill's conversations with the members of Rumillajta, see the pages about Rumillajta's instruments.