Almost 20 years ago, a young student at the National University of Mexico went in search of a very old instrument in the mountains of the southern state of Oaxaca. Today, he has become a leading force in the revival of the instrument called the bajo quinto and the music played on it.
Ruben Luengas was working on a research project at the National School of Music in Mexico City in 1995. He wanted to focus on the music of his hometown, in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, so he asked his 97-year-old grandmother to tell him about the music played at her wedding.
"She tells me it was played on violin and bajo. That's what they played at the parties," he says. "I imagined an upright bass, then I thought an electric bass, so I asked her if she could describe the bajo to me. I had no idea what she was talking about."