The music of latin america
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The Music of Latin America. Socio-Cultural History.

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The Music of Latin America

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The music of latin america

The Music of Latin America

Socio cultural history

Socio-Cultural History

  • Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past knowledge, customs, and arts of a group of people. Its subject matter encompasses the continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future pertaining to a culture.

Socio cultural histories

Socio-cultural Histories

  • Pre-Columbian states of the Aztecs and Mayas of Mesoamerica, and the Incas of the Andes.

  • Colonialism and Catholicism brought by Iberian culture (Spanish and Portuguese).

  • Candomblé,an Afro-Brazilian religion involving Christianity and West African religious beliefs and musical practices. Africans who were brought as slaves and escaped.

Pre columbian states

Pre Columbian States


A short history of latin american independence

A Short History of Latin American Independence




an Afro-Brazilian religion involving Christianity and West African

religious beliefs and musical practices

After the spanish conquest

After the Spanish Conquest

  • The Spanish introduced violins, guitars, harps, brass instruments, and woodwinds which mostly replaced the native instruments. The European instruments were introduced to be used during Mass but were quickly adapted to secular events.

Indigenous use of european instruments

Indigenous use of European Instruments

  • . Indigenous and mestizo peoples learned to play and make these instruments often giving them modified shapes and tunings. In addition to instruments, the Spanish introduced the concept of musical bands, which, in the colonial period, generally consisted of two violins, a harp and various guitars. This grouping gave rise to a number of folk musical styles in Mexico.

Mestizo music

Mestizo Music

  • Strophic form –– music that stays the same while lyrics change from stanza to stanza

  • Copla –– a four octosyllabic-line stanza

  • Sesquialtera - the combination/juxtaposition of duple and triple rhythmic patterns, both simultaneously in different instrumental parts, or sequentially in the same part; also called hemiola.

  • Parallel thirds –– the interval from do to mi; or sixths, do to la



  • Song –dance genre of peru in sesquialtera rhythm

  • Couples “handkerchief” dance.

  • European major scale with tonal harmony

  • Form AABBCC

  • Light romantic themes sung in Spanish

Marinera music and dance

Marinera Music and Dance




  • A slow, sad, lyrical Mestizo song genre from Peru.

  • Not danced; rather, it is used to serenade a lover, for a serious moment at social gatherings, or to express deep feelings when one is alone.

  • Unrequited love, leaving family or home, the absence of loved ones.

Pu ales daggers

Puñales (daggers)

  • Mividaescualhojasecaquevarodando en el mundoquevarodando en el mundo
No tieneningunconsuelo, 
no tieneningúnalagoporesocuando me quejo 
mi alma padececantando
mi alma se alegrallorando.

My life is a leaf dry

that is rolling in the world

that is rolling in the world

I have no consolation,

has nothing.

so when I complain

my soul singings

my soul rejoices crying.

Wayno or huayno

Wayno or Huayno

  • Andean mestio song-dance genre

  • Strophic AABB forms

  • Duple meter varying between and 8th and 16th note figure and 8th note triplet.

  • Social couples dance with fast foot tapping, subtle flirtatious movements, and the use of a handkerchief waved in the hand.

  • Closest to indigenous roots of all Peruvian forms

Wayno quisiera o lvidarte

Wayno “QuisieraOlvidarte”


Huasteco ensemble

Huasteco ensemble

  • A Mexican group hailing from Northern Veracruz and Tamaulipas state, featuring violin accompanied by two types of guitars.

  • Very virtuosic style

  • Violin, huapanguera (large 8 string guitar), small 5 string jarana

  • Strummed ambiguously mixing duple and triple rhythms



  • an ensemble type originally from Jalisco, Mexico consisting of two or more violins, vihuela, guitarrón, two trumpets, and various guitars.

  • Feelings of nationalism spurred the glorification of Mexican peasants around the time of the revolution

Musica n orte a


  • Consists of diatonic accordion, bajosexto, double bass and drums. Another important music style is musica, from northern Mexico, which has been the basis for such sub-genres as musica de banda.

  • arose in the 1830s and 40s in the Rio Grande region, in the southern Texas. Influenced by both Bohemian music and immigrant miners, its rhythm was derived from European polkas, which were popular during the 1800s.

Jarocho ensemble

Jarocho ensemble

  • a musical group from the rural, southern coastal region of Veracruz state. It includes a large diatonic harp, a 4-string guitar (requinto), and one or more jaranas(a small guitar with 8 strings).

The music of latin america

  • It represents a fusion of indigenous (primarily Huastecan), Spanish, and African musical elements, reflecting the population which evolved in the region from Spanish colonial times. Lyrics include humorous verses and subjects such as love, nature, sailors, and cattle breeding that still reflect life in colonial and 19th century Mexico.

Mestizo instruments

Mestizo Instruments



wooden keyed xylophone, originally from Africa, widely popular in Latin America, still played on the Pacific coast of Columbia and Ecuador



  • a small five-string guitar variant with a convex back, used for percussive strumming

Guitarr n


  • a large acoustic bass guitar with a convex back.

  • Not originally derived from the guitar but from bajo de una



  • Andean ten-string guitar variant smaller than the guitar

The music of latin america


  • In Latin America, harps are widely but sparsely distributed, except in certain regions where the harp traditions are very strong. Such important centres include Mexico, Andes, Venezuela and Paraguay. They are derived from the Baroque harps that were brought from Spain during the colonial period.

Requinto jaranas

requinto& jaranas

  • Requinto – smaller guitar

  • Jaranas – 8 string guitar

Native american musical values

Native American Musical Values

The music of latin america


  • Amazonian Indian group with a vocal music culture, maintain a collective style of musical performance at feasts.

  • They have a repertoire of songs (ngre), which blends unison voices.

  • they also maintain a repertoire of individually owned songs (akia), which are “shout songs” performed by a numerous of individuals simultaneously juxtaposed. While the resultant sound creates a mixed texture that may be called cacophony in the West, it reflects different conception of the relationship of an individual to the community, the environment, and the cosmos.

Pre columbian instruments


  • Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, indigenous music was played with rattles, drums, flutes and conch-shell horns as part of religious celebrations.

Other native instruments

Other Native Instruments

  • Teponaztli and tunkul (slit drums),

  • huehuetl (single-headed drum)

  • siku (panpipes),

  • El Condor Pasa


Other aerophones

Other Aerophones

  • flutes: kena (end-notched)

  • tarka(duct);

  • wakrapuku(horn trumpet)

Listening examples

Listening Examples

Chunchos of paucartambo

Chunchos of Paucartambo

  • Two wooden transverse flutes, snare/bass drums

  • This dance tune is played by two flutes in a loose heterophonic texture. The melody consists of two parts, a short A part (lasting about 6 seconds), and a B part (lasting about four seconds) played twice. The drums repeat a simple rhythmic accompaniment throughout the performance.

Cultural context

Cultural Context

  • The Qhapacchuncho represent the people of the Amazon. They are the guardians of the Virgin.


Qollas despedida





  • Many African musical principles are maintained in African American communities of Latin America: cyclical forms, call-and-response, interlocking melodic and percussion parts, and an appreciation of overlapping textures. Many African instruments are employed, featured in the currulao.

  • The currulao is a popular communal dance of Ecuador and Colombia’’s Pacific coast, wherein men and women court.

  • marimba, drums, shakers

The music of latin america

  • One musician plays a 6-8 rhythm on a drum known as a "cununo”. The Currulao rhythm is created by both striking the skin of the drum with the one's hand and tapping the side of the drum with a small stick.

The music of latin america

  • The second musician keeps time on a shaker known in parts of Colombia as a "guasá"(goo-ah-SAH) or "guache"(goo-AH-cheh), which is typically a hollow cylinder made of metal, wooden, or guadua bamboo, filled with light seeds, rice is sometimes used in home-made guasás.

The music of latin america

  • But the main instrument of the currulao style is perhaps the Colombian marimba, a wooden xilophone which resembles the African balafon also for the style of playing.


Urban popular music

Urban popular music

Rumba guaguanco


  • Cuban genre, performed by a lead singer accompanied by drums and rhythm sticks. There are two main sections, an initial verse and chorus section followed by a call-and-response section.

Cuban son

Cuban Son

  • Cuban genre with similar two-part format. The ensemble, comprising tres (a small guitar), piano, bass, trumpets and other wind, and Cuban percussion had international impact in the 1940s and 1950s. Basis of modern salsa style.



  • Urban Brazilian African-derived genre connected with Carnival. The huge percussion section, which includes surdo (bass drum), agogo, tamborim (small hand-held drum), pandeiro (tambourine), reco-reco (metal spring scraper), and cuica (friction drum), plays interlocking parts. Sung in call-and-response style.

Bossa nova

Bossa nova

  • Brazilian guitar-based style maintains syncopated accompaniment patterns of samba but includes more elaborate harmonic schemes. Understated vocal style and sophisticated texts appealed to a middle- and upper-class audience.



  • Afro-Colombian-derived genre traditionally played with either a side-blown reed instrument (pito) or vertical duct flute (gaita). By the 1960s, cumbia was performed by accordions or urban dance bands throughout Latin America and southern Texas. Characterized by interlocking rhythmic parts.



  • Also known as cumbiaandina. An example of the amalgamation of widely disparate musical resources within an urban popular style and of the use of music to construct and express social identity by children of Andean migrants to Lima. The ensemble includes electric guitars, bass, organ/synthesizer, and percussion (guiro and Cuban timbales). Chicha paints a musical portrait of these children, mixing Andean elements (wayno), urban popular music (cumbia), and Western rock (instrumentation).



  • The Latin American continent encompasses many different types of societies, each with their own musical traditions.

The music of latin america

  • Mestizo cultures—the mixing of Spanish or Portuguese and Native Latin American lifeways—have become a common denominator influencing many forms of Latin American music.

The music of latin america

  • In each country or region, different combinations of European and Native influences occurred, with one or the other being more or less predominant.

Scales and rhythms

Scales and Rhythms

  • Mestizo music is characterized by European scales and harmonies; strophic song forms (the melody of each verse is the same, but the words change), and complex rhythms created by playing duple (2 or 4 beat) and triple (3 beat) rhythms sequentially and simultaneously.



  • The guitar—in many variants—is the most common stringed instrument, along with violin, harp, and mandolin. Various types of indigenous flutes, panpipes and drums are still performed. Brass band instruments were introduced in the 19th century, accordions in the early 20th century, and electric guitars and keyboards in the second half of the 20th century.

Native american esthetics

Native American Esthetics

  • Native American musical performances tend to be group events, without focusing on individual musicians. Most musical performances are tied to specific rituals.

African influence

African Influence

  • Afro-Latin American music is a combination of African, European, and Native influences. In instrumentation, composition, and performance, Afro-Brazilian music and performance traditions like the currulao of the Pacific coast of Colombia exhibit strong influences from African heritage.

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