Historia Musical de Gelo Cardoba
Rogelio "Gelo" Córdoba and his Contributions to Panamanian Music Culture Rogelio Gelo Córdoba was born in El Paradero, near to El Mogollón of Macaracas, Province of Los Santos on 15 March 1911; son of Mrs. Gertrudis Córdoba and Fermin Cortés. He always used his mother's surname, and he was an only child. We know with certainty that during his youth he learned to play the violin with his uncle Sacramento, who used to play music in religious events that were held in the past on the occasion of the burial of an infant. With this purpose, Gelo Córdoba started out in this musical art; he would stand in for his uncle whenever having a difficulty. His first violins were made from the wood of the tree named "balso". We have been able to determine that at the beginning Gelo played by ear and that the stave was unknown to him; however, he later received some music lessons in the city of Chitré. With the years, the accordion player from Los Santos decided to form a folk music group which was christened as "Plumas Negras". In fact, the version given by their closest relatives stated that the group was given this name because it's first female singer was of dark complexion, as well as most of the group members. Don Gelo Córdoba died in the city of Panama on 5 February 1959 at age 48. His remains rest in Pedasí cemetery. He has left us recorded some musical interpretations from his "Plumas Negras" and among them are Mogollon, Canajagua Azul, Conejo Muleto, La Flor de Lilolá, La Viudita de La Miel, La Pica Pica, Carretera a Canajagua, Arroz con Mango, Todo en la Vida Pasa, Sinceridad, and others. Cultural Contribution Gelo Córdoba's meaningful cultural contribution goes beyond the interpretation and authorship of music compositions; it lies in the nationalistic value within the cultural and historical context from which they emerge. "Gelo" is an exponent of our accordion popular music, musical category that became part of the genre known as "folk music". The accordion player from Los Santos has the merit of having taken the accordion out of the social ostracism in which it was and begin a career that placed it in the national foreground. Indeed, we must admit that it was Cordoba's accordion that dared, for the first time, to leave the saloons and get in the ballrooms of the towns from the region of Azuero. With this interpreter from Los Santos begins the decline of the violin and the subsequent disappearance of ballroom dancing. From here on, the embryonic town elite stops doing it's "crème de la crème" dances, and the violin passed to a second level. Gelo Córdoba is therefore the artisan of the accordion hegemony. Another transcendent aspect of his work lies on the counter-hegemonic response of his musical interpretations. In his music, he sings to the villagers, to the peasant that lives in his micro-farm, to the centennial abandonment of the rural man. And, as it has always occurred in the history of music, the popular airs are the ones that defy the dominant classes' hegemony. Thanks to his determination, at the end of the 20th century, the wealthy people were to dance "La Querida" and "Nadie sabe lo que tiene hasta que lo pierde", because in a way or another people always prevail. The people's soul flourishes in interpretations like "El Mogollon" and "Conejo Muleto". They deal with musical contents with no academic pretensions born from the warmth of the man that grieves over the crib where he was rocked during his first years and over the rabbit hunting activity that he practiced in an unknown pine forest from the countryside. Since then, with the accordion he drowns the peasant's grief and sublimates his freedom wishes. The Canajagua musician is much more than an accordion player. We find in him the highland man that came down from the mountains to the town and challenged the embryonic town class settled in the colonial square. Córdoba's accordion is nationalistic, counter-hegemonic, and provocative of musical ruptures that are the reflection of the transformations in Azuero's social structure. What has happened afterwards with his accordion -it's commercialization-, is the result of the social dynamic and in no way it should be attributable to his musical feelings towards Los Santos. Beginning the 21st century, it cannot be postponed anymore the recognition of the transcendental value of Rogelio "Gelo" Córdoba, his music and his accordion. This man from Los Santos is worthy not only for being a visionary pioneer of our folk music, but also for leaving us a musical collage which evokes our cultural origin, as well as the tradition of the man working on the fields whose sweat, experiences, happiness and sadness were immortalized in the notes of his accordion. Milcíades Pinzón Rodríguez.