MejoraneraThe mejoranera or mejorana is a folkloric chordophone from Panama. It is carved from one block of wood (usually cedar) or from dry fibers of Bejuco, and is shaped like a small guitar. It has five nylon, horse hair, or gut strings. The mejoranera is tuned in either an e'-b-a-a'-d' (by 2) or an e'-b-g-g'-d' (by 6) sequence A mejoranera player is called a mejoranero or mejoranera depending if it is a male or female player. Typically this instrument is played by men.
HistoryThe first Spanish conquistadors arrived on the isthmus of Panama in the early part of the sixteenth century, in which sailors brought a style of tap dance known to them as "zapateo", now known as "mejorana" dance, which includes this instrument. The mejoranera is similar to a guitar but slightly smaller and with a shorter neck; this is due to the relation of the baroque guitar that was brought over from Europe. It first appeared at the town of La Mesa in Veraguas, but is now popular in all central provinces, Veraguas, Herrera and Los Santos, and the most representative musical instrument of this country.
ConstructionThe mejoranera is traditionally carved out of a single block of wood. Although nowadays there are some mejoraneras with bent sides like a guitar, most are still made in this traditional way. The measurements are: 13.5 - 12 - 22 cm. From the top, 40 cm of the Fund, 8 cm height, 22 cm Mango, 10 cm Pala, and 62 cm total length.
The mejoranera is a bit smaller than a guitar, the fretboard and neck or shorter. It uses five strings, which initially were: dry reed fibers, horsehair, later today guts and nylon. The wood used to build the mejoranera is cedar. It is used to accompany singers' and troubadours' vernacular.