"Sounds of Heritage: The Mejorana" Documentary Idea

by Azael Barrera
(Panama, Republic of Panama)

This is a documentary about the mejorana, a folkloric guitar and a dance from Panama, the thinnest country in Central America.

The mejorana is the Panamanian guitar, just as the charango is for Bolivia, or the four-string cuatro is for Venezuela, or the 12-sting cuatro is for Puerto Rico. Mejorana is also a festive Panamanian dance performed by several couples wearing the national costume.

The objective of the documentary is to raise awareness about the mejorana because it is in the brink of extinction. Few people know how to make one, also few people know how to play it, and its performance is not taught at schools, one because the education ministry is not interested, and second, there are a few instruments available.

I also want to make the documentary to show to funding organizations to get support to put a center in which it will be studied, built to popular and concert specifications, mass produced for schools, and setup a museum of the history of the instrument and the dance. The center will also push for the teaching of the dance of mejorana.

So, my documentary idea starts from the point of view of the old people, and contrasted to the view of youngsters which actually are beginning to learn to play the mejorana.

I already have footage of the first national children contest playing the mejorana. In the end the importance of the mejorana into forging the Panamanian identity is illustrated, with strong messages about the consequence of losing it forever due to the influx of modern instruments. For example, nowadays performers are using acoustic spanish guitar to play mejorana songs. Some others have even tried to synthetize the sound for some music recordings.

The documentary should be no longer than 1 hour, so it can be broadcast in local TV, or shown in local cinemas or theaters.

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Nov 03, 2010
beautiful music
by: Webmaster

Thank you Azael for your documentary idea about the mejorana guitar. I have never heard of that instrument and I'm sure many others have not either, which makes this an intriguing idea. I especially love the idea that you will have a ready-made soundtrack with all the beautiful music that can be played from the mejorana. Do you have an artist who is willing to help you record some music you could use in the documentary?

That's great news that you have already started gathering footage. Soon you will have a nice collection of clips that can be edited together. I might even suggest putting together a simple trailer (short video) yourself using something like Animoto... a free online video editor that super easy to use. Pick a piece of music and mix with photos of the guitar and beautiful images of your country.

Good luck!

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