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Latin America. Music, broadly defined. General characteristics. Identifiable concepts in Latin American music include: Nostalgia: impressions of past times i.e. Migrating to another place from one’s roots

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latin america

Latin America

Music, broadly defined

general characteristics
General characteristics
  • Identifiable concepts in Latin American music include:
  • Nostalgia: impressions of past times
  • i.e. Migrating to another place from one’s roots
  • i.e Ecuadorian song that relates a mother’s worry that her child, now living in a “beautiful palace”, will forget his/her humble beginnings
characteristics con t
Characteristics con’t.
  • Descriptive Ballads
    • Storytelling which focuses on local figures (human and animal)
    • These can be good or bad figures.
    • Ballads have told the stories of many Latin American heroes and their place in history.
    • i.e. Text CD 4, Cut 11 Illuman tiyu
more characteristics
More characteristics
  • Commentary on current events and outrage at injustice
    • “There can be no important event in the history of the people of Latin America that is not reflected in a song.” (Eduardo Arrasco Pirard)
    • i.e. “The People United Shall Never be Defeated” from Chile
  • Communication with the supernatural is a major characteristic of much of Latin American music
  • Examples include:
    • shaman music
    • dancing in expectation of spirit possession
    • adults at a child’s wake taking the “voice” of the deceased infant who is now considered an angel on the way to “gloria”
latin american rhythms
Latin American rhythms
  • Some familiar terms:
  • rumba, mambo, bolero, beguine, samba, bossa-nova, tango
  • These play a big role in popular music around the world.
approaches to healing

rooted in study of pathogenic causes for illness, practiced by doctors

supported by microbiology

treated with modern drugs and medicines


rooted in native ways, practiced by shamans

draws on local resources (plants, etc.)


shaman’s ability to influence the relationship of the ill person with the environment and the cosmos

Approaches to healing
  • In Latin America, much illness is believed to be spiritually based
  • essential function for shaman is to heal
  • This is a musical phenomenon:
    • uses chanting and rhythm
    • Shaman shakes or beats a musical instrument (drum, rattle, bell or gong) to aid in contacting the spiritual world
    • This rhythm (regular, percussive) is used to transition back and forth between the spiritual world and the waking world
  • Neighbor to the south…
  • What do we know of her music?
  • Mexican hat dance….
  • Dut dut dut dut dut dut dut, da duh etc.
  • Music is a combination of Spanish and Indian elements
  • Cartoons?
mariachi bands
Mariachi bands
  • The most well-known music of Mexico to Americans
  • In the Mexico City phone book there are four solid pages of mariachi bands advertised
  • Garibaldi Square--every few feet there’s another one ready for hire
  • Funerals, weddings, baptisms, debutante celebrations...
mariachi makeup
Mariachi makeup?
  • Usually 2-3 violins
  • 1-2 trumpets
  • older type rhythm guitar with 5 strings called a vihuela
  • huge bass guitar with a convex back called a guitarron
  • purpose is to accompany professional or amateur singers who want to show off vocal talents
check out the guitars
Check out the guitars...

a few examples
A few examples
  • Mexican cowboy song
  • JVC, Vol. 28, cut 1
  • Mexican hat dance
  • JVC, vol. 28, cut 2
roads in the andes
Roads in the Andes

The summit of Mount Chimborazo is the earth's furthest point from its own center.

  • The Andes mountain range stretches 4,400 miles along the western coast of South America, making it the longest mountain range in the world. The highest peak of the Andes mountain range rises 6,962 miles about sea level. In the Ecuador Andes, the summit of Mount Chimborazo is the earth's furthest point from its own center. Although the Andes mountain range does not compare to the Himalaya mountain range in height, it is twice as long. The climate of the Andes Ecuador is constantly changing, and locals claim the area experiences “four seasons in one day” throughout the year.
the quichua of the northern andes of ecuador
The Quichua of the Northern Andes of Ecuador
  • Imbabura Province
  • town of Cotacachi (on the equator)
  • language is Quichua
  • 8300 to 9700 feet above sea level
  • maize is a main crop, as it has been for hundreds of years
  • tall eucalyptus grows there, often on plantations
  • local cactus (cabuya) trunks are used to make
  • stools for homes (harp is sitting on one)
quichua characteristics
  • one room homes, covered patio with dirt floors
  • styles of dress are the same since the 16th century
  • cover their heads to protect from the sun
  • strong sense of community
musical tradition
Musical tradition:
  • “Sanjuan”
  • harp is the main instrument
  • uses “purina”: importance of walking
  • harps were brought from Europe by the Jesuit missionaries, has been in Latin America for more than 400 years
  • Imbabura harp is a special hybrid, described in your text
  • examples: CD 4/10, p. 435
iluman tiyu
Iluman tiyu
  • P. 438-9 in text
  • highly distilled ballad
  • Spanish and Quichua mixed here

Andean harp

Dried armadillo shaker

african ecuadorians
African Ecuadorians
  • African Ecuadorians of the Chota River Valley 2 hours north of Cotacachi
  • 5-10% of the population of Ecuador; 70% of the Esmeralda province
  • concentrated in the coastal Esmeraldas Province, north of Imbabura
  • 16th century brought them there via the Jesuits who wanted slaves
music example
Music example
the andean sound
The Andean Sound
  • Groups:
  • Amauta: based in Seattle
  • comprises Chilean and Bolivian musicians playing traditional Andean instruments
  • Seattle Northwest Regional Folklife Festival
  • out of Corvallis, Oregon
  • an ensemble of 5 professional, college-educated musicians from Argentina, Peru, and Mexico
  • focus on traditional Andean music
  • often at the State Fair in Salem in the late summer/early fall
  • 4 members from Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico
  • use a US classically trained harpist
  • Ecuadorian musicians
  • performed at Carnegie Hall and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
  • Sukay is a very well known group, which has performed at Lincoln Center and at major folk festivals throughout the United States
  • Buena Vista Social Club
  • Discovered and documented by Ry Cooder
  • His mission is to embrace the world through music.
cooder bio
Cooder bio
  • In the mid-60s (at age 17) Cooder was an up-and-coming talent on the blues circuit.
  • played with Jackie DeShannon, Taj Mahal, Paul Revere and the Raiders and...Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
  • Collaborated with Randy Newman, Little Feat and the Rolling Stones
  • By the age of 20, Cooder had worked with top rhythm & blues acts of his day.
  • Before the end of the decade, he cut his first album, an homage to personal blues heroes, Lead Belly and Blind Willie Johnson
In the 70s Cooder began to branch out into other areas of the world. This eventually took him light-years away from his roots.
  • The early 90s found Cooder far from home, producing remarkable albums in collaboration with V.M. Bhatt (A Meeting by the River) and Ali Farka Touré (Talking Timbuktu).
intro to buena vista
Intro to Buena Vista
  • "I felt that I had trained all my life for this and yet making this record was not what I expected in the 1990s. Music is a treasure hunt. You dig and dig and sometimes you find something."