What are some slow latin american songs


Art and folk music in Latin America

La musica en Hispanoamerica

(comp.)Justo Fernández López


Art and folk music in Latin America

Kurt Pahlen (1) was the first to think about the definition of the Latin American song. He quotes Hugo Riemann's definition in his old encyclopedia: "Folk music means either a song that was composed by the people (that is, the poet and composer of which are no longer known), or one that has passed into the vernacular, or one, which is 'folk-like', that is, composed simply and easily comprehensible in melody and harmony. " According to Kurt Pahlen, Riemann mixes folk song with folk song; but he thinks that there are such close connections between folk music, folk music and art music that a real separation is not easy, and often not at all. He speaks of a great cycle: music is born in the people, rises to art music, the decline of which after a certain time in turn fertilizes folk music. Latin America is a prime example of this.

Latin American folk music is mostly young. Because old Indian echoes can be found at most in the Andes or in some regions of Mexico. The Indian has also mixed with European music, whereby a particularly fascinating phenomenon catches the eye: although the Europeans brought their folk melodies with them to Latin America, they could not survive. Most of today's folk songs in Latin America do not draw on "folk songs that you have brought with you", but "from imported art music". (2)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, fashion songs and dances such as gavotte, minuet, waltz and polka came to Latin America from Europe, and the people did not hesitate to imitate the upper class. A prime example of this are the gaucho dances of Argentina, which have long outlived their origins, European ballroom dancing. "They are still part of the South American folklore. Here today only the fingertips are touched in the dance, or it is danced completely 'openly' as in Europe of centuries past," explains Pahlen. "And the forms of music have clearly 'sunk' socially: what was monopoly of the upper class two hundred and one hundred years ago is folk music, has become folklore." (3)

In Latin America, folklore arises from what is not considered 'popular' in Europe. It still arises today, every day, and it would be a mistake to regard it as frozen, historical music. It is alive and in constant flux.

The development of Latin American music

"Latin American music is as diverse as you can expect from a continent made up of almost 30 countries," is the title of John Storm Roberts' article "Sources of Latin American Music". (4) Three different cultures took root here - the native american, the European and the african - not to mention the mixes. In the tent of the Conquistaand the Coloniathe Spanish influence was strongest. In the 19th centuryAfter independence from Spain, the influence of French and Italian music grew stronger. However, despite the similar cultural background in the individual countries, the development has proceeded very differently, since even the smallest countries have their own musical character. Storm Oberts speaks of a "Blood mix"which has a peculiarity in each of the countries (5): Cuban and Latin-Caribbean music lacks Indian elements, just as the music of some Andean inhabitants is free from African elements. The three cultures that almost unintentionally meet in Latin America , but in many cases also correspond to three social classes that hardly touch each other.

Interestingly enough, as far as mutual influence is concerned, despite their musical richness, almost nothing has passed from Latin American music to American music. Conversely, what has gained lasting influence within Latin America comes from Cuba, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Cuban music - as the "most successful fusion of African and Spanish elements" (6) - played the most important role.

But basically it remains Spanish musicof 16. and 17. Century the dominant model, which is of course permeable enough to absorb new coloristic and rhythmic influences. First in the late 19th In the 19th century, countries with a pronounced Indian population began to write their music using European instruments and notations. At that time, the tradition of Spanish music from the 16th to 17th centuries had been forgotten and pushed aside, and salon music established itself instead, to which the influence of Italian opera was added. Some Latin American countries, which have gotten rich and in which a cultural elite has emerged, hire interpreters from Europe to frequent the houses of the aristocracy. And in such cases, Germans are preferred. At the Late 19th In the 19th century, countries like Argentina and Chile were so rich that they could afford to hire La Scala in Milan with its best soloists, including choir, orchestra and ballet, for three months a year. Tiny, but extremely rich saltpeter villages in northern Chile invited dancers like Anna Pawlowa or singers like Enrico Caruso to guest performances. Some of these musicians stayed in these countries forever and contributed to a continuity of European influence to this day.

Most Latin American musical forms are difficult to pin down this way, as they almost always Mixed formsare. A good example of this is the typical 19th century song form, the habanera, those from the contradanza, a Spanish variant of the English country dance. From the beginning, however, merged with the Cuban contradanzaAfrican elements: "White and black bands played the same pieces, but the black music was swinging," as Storm Roberts says. (7)

Also Argentina can be cited as an example of mixed forms. Even if the black population is hardly significant in Argentina today, it still had a great influence on Argentine music in the 19th century. For many authors, that is tango(8) Hence, in any case, a mixture of European and African elements, whereby the Italians, not the Spaniards as in Cuba, are formative here. Gato Barbieri says: "In terms of harmony, the tango is undoubtedly of European origin, the melody even has something operatic about it. But the rhythm comes from Buenos Aires, that is clear." (9)

As in Argentina, so were in Mexico the black musical elements were less influential and the European always prevailed. Northern Spaniards in particular immigrated to Mexico, which also brought influences from other folk music in Europe to bear. In the Caribbean, on the other hand, it was more the southern Spanish, the Moorish-influenced element. (10) Finally, French had spread in Mexico, and with it such an offensive dance as the waltz. The 3/4 time is still considered the most popular in Mexico today. In addition to the waltz, the polka also gained a foothold, the 2/4 time of which has remained popular not only in the country, but also in popular music. The earliest Cuban influences, on the other hand, can only be seen in Mexico in the second half of the 19th century - with the habanera -locate.

So the question of the "authenticity", after "Originality"Latin American music, says Storm Roberts, is quite superfluous." Not only have the various Latin American countries influenced each other for centuries, some of their typical musical styles have emerged from the fusion of native and imported musical elements. [...] The tradition of Latin American music has basically consisted of incessant for over a hundred years merger."(11)

Limitation of similar musical developments

Against the background of the different and yet again comparable developments, which have now been briefly described, Claus Schreiner (1982) created the following geographical allocation of the musical folklore of Latin America:

"Region I.

Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Northern Argentina, the south of Ecuador: area of ​​the so-called Andean folklore with strong influences of the far-reaching Aymará and Quechua culture on the one hand and Iberian / Spanish music on the other. Strong divide between highlands, lowlands and coastal regions in the degree of mestizo of music.

Region II

The former La Plata states Argentina and Uruguay with a small proportion of Amerindian music, predominantly European (Creolized), in Uruguay a weak African presence. Parts of southern Brazil and Paraguay (with a very homogeneous culture of the Guaraní) must also be included.

Region III

Brazil: strong African participation in the coastal regions; in the interior of the country, African-American-Indian-European hybrid forms.

Region IV

The Guiana States: are not included in this book due to a lack of information.

Region V

Colombia and Venezuela with parts of Panama, Honduras, Guatemalas close to Colombia: strong African presence on the coast; Amerindian mixed forms and indigenous peoples in the south.

Region VI

The Caribbean island world: after the encounter of African culture with Spanish influences also those of French, British, Dutch and even North American origins.

Region VII

Central America to the north of the Mexican-Texan border: predominantly mestizo music; a few Amerindian cultural areas, especially in the south. "(12)

Following this, the most important song forms are presented, broken down by country.

The wealth of song forms in Latin America, broken down by country and form (13)

Andean region

Carnavalito: from Northern Argentina. It's a mix of the huayno with dance forms from the Chaco. The lyrics sing of the joy that the carnival is coming, or the disappointment or loneliness when the carnival is over.

Cueca boliviana: a faster version of the Argentine Cueca.

Festejo: a rhythm and a song form of the black population group from Peru. It is related to that candombé from Uruguay and with the cumbia from Colombia.

Yaraví: a very slow, plaintive and very sad song form, too canción dreary called. The Indian elements are unmistakable. The yaraví is very often with the huayno combined into one yaraví-huayno.

Huayno: Word in the Kechua language for "dance", it is danced in groups. The huayno is the national song and dance form of Peru.

Marinera: a very rhythmic form of song that can be found in Peru from the coast to the jungle. There are variations of the marinera in all regions of Peru. The dance shows the coquetry of women towards men.

Pasillo: Mestizo dance and song form from Ecuador.

Takirari: rhythmic song form from the highlands of Peru (Puna). It is sung and danced in groups during processions and parades.

Vals criollo: the famous vals paruano with very artistic music and a text written in the "high Spanish" style.

Important interpreters: Los Calchakís, Los Campesinos (good interpreters of the huayno), Los Incas.


Baguala: one of the oldest song forms in Argentina. The baguala corresponds to the yaraví in the Andes. The text lives from improvisation.

Bailecito: from the north; is also a dance.

Cachullapi: Song form from Ecuador, without distribution in the Andes region.

Carnavalito: from the north; is often very humorous.

Cueca: a quick version of the Argentine zamba.

Chamamé: Song form from the province of Corrientes, it is sung in a kind of polka rhythm.

Chamarrita: Song form from Uruguay.

Chirihuaqui: primitive dance and song form from Ecuador.

Chaya: Carnival song, like a waltz.

Cielito: Song form from the pampas.

Cifra: Song form from the pampas.

Estilo: Song form from the pampas, from colonial times.

Huella: Christmas carol

Milonga: from the south; the habanera came to Buenos Aires with the Spanish theater groups around 1850 and had the here around 30 years later milonga put into the world. This milonga initially supplemented the suffering repertoire of payadors in town and country and offered them especially in the form of payada de contrapunto improvisational possibilities. A little later, the milonga generally advanced to canción criollaArgentina and found its podium in the cuartos de las chinas from Buenos Aires; this is how the black and mulatto brothels were called. The elegant habanera kept a decent distance from her bastard in the suburbs and in the country.

Rasguido doble: effective rhythm, narrative text.

tango: The tango originated at the beginning of the last third of the 19th century in the immigrant milieu of Buenos Aires. Tango owes a lot to Afro-Argentine cultural influences, but not everything. Under the designations candombé and tango performed a number of black dances in the 18th and 19th centuries. That alone would have resulted argenfinische tangocan not develop. It owes its existence to a rare coincidence of predominantly social and cultural developments in Buenos Aires. The Argentine war against Paraguay (1870-76) had barely ended when the wave of European immigration swelled to the Río de la Plata. Around half of the immigrants stayed in Buenos Aires. You have to imagine the atmosphere of this city in those days to understand why the tango only at that time and no one else could have arisen. Brothels and entertainment venues in the harbor and in the outskirts (orillas) were booming, as the nervous and uneasy people were looking for relaxation and diversion. In the entertainment districts, musicians, singers and dancers of the gaucho culture performed, and there were pubs where musicians played candombeGroups played, and others in which the new urban troubadours played theirs milongas sang. In the theaters and opera houses, the schedules announced guest performances by European theater groups with their versions of Spanish ones zarzuelas. The immigrants were at least able to maintain their cultural idiosyncrasies in their cafés, which also had an impact on the local traditions. The atmosphere at that time was an almost ideal climate in which musical and dance forms of expression could be amalgamated. It was only a matter of time that these musical groups between academias de bailes and brothels in a milieu of flourishing prostitution, pimping and criminality completed the playful synthesis of acoustic impressions of that time. This synthesis by name tangohas worked so perfectly that proving its musical origins would be a hopeless undertaking today. However, there is agreement that the sources of tango are in habanera,candombe andmilongaare to be searched for.

Tonada: from the north; it's kind estilo, a slow and very common in Chile cueca.

Vidala: from the north; typical song from Santiago del Estero. The text is very important. It deals with the big issues in life. It often sounds dire.

Zamba: not to be confused with the Brazilian Samba; the zamba is "the" Argentine song par excellence, artfully structured and with a text that is very well structured from a literary point of view. As the cuecawhich is much faster and less lyrical, is the zamba from the Spanish classical zamacueca originated. As a dance form, it looks very graceful.

Most important performers: Los Fronterizos With Eduardo Falú (of them is the Misa Criolla highly recommended). Los Chalchaleros are considered to be the most genuine interpreters of Argentine folklore. Los hermanos Avalo, Los Cantores de Quilla Huasi, Los Nocheros de Anta, Los Tucu Tucu etc.

Individual performers: Eduardo Falú, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Horacio Guarany, Jorge Cafrune, José Larralde, Mercedes Sosa.


Cueca: From the old dance form zamacueca (zamba cueca) are the Argentine zamba and the Chilean (also Argentine and Bolivian) cueca originated. The text is fun and happy. The cueca (French la clouque) imitates the movements of the mother hen. The rhythm is a little faster and easier than that of the zamba.

Resbalosa or refalosa: European elements mixed with Indian elements from Chile.

Tonada: The rhythm is the one zamba or the cueca very similar, but the text is not as structured as the zamba. The text of the tonada tells and describes events in life in long lines.

Caribbean and Cuba, Puerto Rico,

Dominican Republic, Jamaica

bolero: Originally from Cuba, is the bolero a medium-paced dance which, slowed down sentimentally, gained international popularity. As a song form, it is extremely popular to sing about love, lovesickness and passion. The texts of the bolero (almost a literary genre of its own) were examined scientifically, very sensitively, but nonetheless passionately by the Spanish literary scholar Iris M. Zavala (27). Great interpreters of the bolero are: El Trio Los Panchos; Los Tres Caballeros; Los Tres Ases.

Calipso: most famous rhythm and song form from Trinidad. Harry Belafonte made it popular in the USA.

Chachachá: It is a faster one and not so serious bolero. It was developed by Cuban musicians around 1950 in New York. Sings of the bolero treats the passion of the love affair and laments its failure chachachá the eternal tension between the sexes and ridicules every longing for happiness in love and loyalty between man and woman.

Conga: Carnival music from Santiago de Cuba with a heavy pulsating beat. A Latin American rhythm music that was widely used in the New World. The rhythm is also sung.

Guaguancó: the African variant of the rumba.

Guajira: a rural form of song from Cuba with Spanish elements, especially when it comes to the lyric lyrics. The word guajira is called a white woman from the country. The most popular guajra is the Guantanamerawhich in Europe is sung almost like a chachachá.

Guaracha: an originally African rhythm. The text is always deliberately ambiguous or piquant. There are many different forms of guaracha. They can be recognized less by the rhythm than by the text. A guarachera is a woman who publicly tells or sings about all love scandals in a guaracha rhythm.

Habanera: old Spanish dance form that has gained a foothold in Cuba. In addition to the guajira is the habanera the second form of song that was heavily influenced by Spain. The habanera was created around 1825 in Cuba (La Habana); it later returned to Spain in a more refined version and is as cuplé an integral part of the Spanish zarzuela become. She came to Argentina via Paris and formed the basis for that tango porteño. She is famous habanera from Bizet's opera "Carmen": "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle ...". It was very popular in all salons in the 19th century. Habanera has become very popular in Germany La Paloma.

Lucumí: Black African cult in Cuba, whose roots lie with the Nigerians and the Dahomeyan Yoruba people. Yoruba has remained the religious language. In Puerto Rico and the surrounding Latin American countries also under santería a term for ancient African customs. The salsa has taken over some of the elements, especially the rhythmic, the very own African melody style as well as some of his songs. The lyrics sing and lament the fate of the slaves in America.

mambo: a music of the Congo, also developed from black African cults in Cuba. Large distribution in Puerto Rico. Of Perez Prado and Xavier Cugat popularized with her Spanish orchestras in the USA. Basically a dance form, but it is also a song form.

Merengue: characteristic rhythm and song form from Santo Domingo. The merengue originated in Santo Domingo at the beginning of the 19th century, but it can also be found everywhere and has been heard in its modern form by big bands like Johnny Ventura's in New York. Colombia has its own version of the marengue. The merengue has a certain resemblance to the polka. Since 1991 the merengue has also established itself in Spain, was introduced and made popular by the Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra.

Plena: African-Puerto Rican song style of the city with Spanish elements; consists of mostly four or six line verses with a refrain, often satirical or lyrical content. The text contains lyrical satirical themes and was often used for political satire. Percussion, accordion, guitar - there are all kinds of accompaniments.

Rock latino: Mixture of American rock and Cuban salsa.

Rumba: from the son resulting Afro-Cuban dance and song form (the macumba is an Afro-Brazilian rhythm). The rhythm of the rumba imitates the walk of African slaves with chains on their feet. With the rumba the slaves lamented their torment (the famous is the Rumba tombah).The rumba became a saloon dance in Europe, losing the erotic elements in favor of acrobatic interludes. Today she can be heard playing weekend entertainment music in parks in North America. In the salsa and by name rumbónindicates it is a "jam session" or a percussion passage. From the rumbamany rhythms have emerged, the most famous being the Cuban one guaguancó.

Rumba flamenca: Flamenco has it rumbaimported from Kubain Spain. The rumba flamencahas a festive or erotic character in Spain. Almost all flamenco performances end with multiple rumbas. The rumba flamenca is in the last few years by long-running like BamboleroBáilame! and other 'hits' by the French gypsy group Gipsy Kings become very popular. In Spain, Peret has the rumba flamenca as rumba catalana made very popular. The Spanish group was also popular Rumba tres.

Salsa: the term encompasses a fast-paced, creative Latin American sound. What one understands by "drive" in jazz is called here as salsa picante (spicy sauce) expressed somewhat soggy. A mix of rumba, chachachá, lucumí, guaguancó, guajira and other Caribbean rhythms and song forms. Very common in the US among Latinos. The text is often very creative and works with improvisation. The Latinos refer to as salsa picante what is called "drive" in American jazz.

Sun: from Cuba, the "Pearl of the Caribbean", almost all Caribbean rhythms that are known worldwide come from. The basis of these rhythms was that son, "la obsesión de los cubanos". The son montuno is the most genuine Cuban form of song and dance. It is the oldest and certainly the most balanced amalgamation of black and Spanish musical cultures. From the son are the rumba and its offshoot of the gunguancó originated.

Soul latino: Mixture of American blues and salsa latina.


Bambuco: from the Cauca region. Theme of the songs: love. The bambuco is very common outside of Colombia in Venezuela and Mexico.

Cumbia: Product of the three ethnic groups on Colombian soil; is considered the most popular and widespread form of song and dance.

Currulao: hot African rhythm with singing.

Guabina: Work song from the Andes.

Merecumbé: Mix of cumbia and merengue.

Merengue colombiano: a little faster than the merengue from Santo Domingo.

Pasillo: a quick waltz.

Porro: a faster one cumbia.

Vallenato is next to the cumbia a predominant form of music on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, which was originally played by an ensemble of accordion, a double-headed drum (caja) and Güira. Originally Vallenato means "the one born in the valley", whereby the valley between the Pico Cristóbal Colón and the Sierra de Perijá in northeastern Colombia is meant. Every spring, the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata takes place in Valledupar, where the best performers are chosen for the “Rey Vallenato”.


Corrido: AJ's rhythm is that corridothe Mexican transformation of the European polka (like the Mexican valses). Corridos are songs in ballad form, actually come from the early 19th century, from romances. Usually more declaimed than sung, they came up in the Mexican Civil War of 1846-48; most of their texts are based on historical scenes. In the 20th century they are corridos de la revolución mexicana(1910-1920) like Adelita became very popular. They reflect the war. Today are corrido and ranchera, both Mexican song styles, widely known in the USA. Basically they are corridos simple, clear folk songs, which recorded historical events and kept a kind of historical awareness awake among the people.

Corrido del Norte: Under norteñoone understands an ensemble that consists of accordion, guitar or the bajo sexto, the 12 ‑ juicy guitar and the double bass. Traces of waltz, polka, Scottish and also des corrido mexicanocan easily be heard from this music. It's typical frontier music. In the 19th century they were canciones norteñaspopular in this border area. Above all the Germans - railway builders from Bohemia and Moravia - with their polka music, played by the accordion orchestras of the time, are involved in the development of the estilo norteño been involved.

Huapango: a faster one huazteca. The text is less lyrical than the huazteca. The huapango is sung by almost all singers and groups in Mexico,

Huazteca or son huazteca: from the Huazteca region (north of Veracruz). Consists of Native American elements and the famous son huazteca the mestizo. One of the most difficult vocal genres in the Mexican repertoire. The huazteca sings of love in its purest form. The instrumental introduction shows the famous cadencia griega of Spanish flamenco. The huazteca is world famous Cucurrucucú, paloma.

Ranchera: The rancheras are not folk songs in the strict sense. Rather, they served as entertainment between acts in the theater. Performed in ballad style, its content was also nationalistic around 1910; they were then quickly commercialized later.

Sandunga: a mix of iota de Navarreand waltz.

Sones jarochos: a "ritmo endiablado" of the jarocho farmers on the coast in the state of Veracruz.

Sones de Michoacan: originated in the 18th century and have further developed very old elements. He is famous jarabe tapatíothat is sung and danced.

Sones de Veracruz: by this one understands very difficult and complicated rhythms of the music of the mestizo. The influences from the Caribbean - the port of Veracruz is the gateway to the Caribbean - cannot be ignored.

Vals: The waltz is the most popular rhythm in Mexican folklore. He came to Mexico with the French soldiers at the time of Maximilian of Austria, who was shot in Querétaro (México) in 1867.

Yucateca: very lovely and slow songs in the waltz rhythm from the land of the ancient Mayans. The yucatecas are very melodic and sing about the eternal theme very contemplatively and sensitively: love in its purest forms. Famous performers of yucatecas: In addition to Guty Cárdenas (the best, interpreter of yucatecas), Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Tony Aguilar, Cuco Sánchez, Chavela Vargas; next to world famous trios like Los Panchos, Los tres caballeros, Los tres ases.


Balada or canción: a slow version of the polca. The lyrics are very lyrical like almost all song lyrics in Paraguay. They often contain words or even entire sentences in guaraní Language.

Guarania: The rhythm of the guarania originated in the 19th century when the habanera popular throughout Latin America and the influence of Italian opera was strongest. It's a very slow waltz. This form of song bears the name of the Paraguayan Indians, who gave it its loveliness and the sense of poetry and sensitivity. Topics of the texts: the most beautiful memories of a successful love relationship, a pleasant life situation with differentiated sensory qualities, often a declaration of love to the "india bella, mezcla de rosa y pantera".

Polca paraguaya: the most widespread rhythm and song form in Paraguay. It's the European polka that corrido called. The polca paraguayahowever, it is much slower and more differentiated than the Mexican one corrido. The texts often recall heroic deeds in Paraguay's history.

Vals: The waltz is not as common in Paraguay as it is in Mexico or Peru (vals criollo).

Performers: Los auténticos guaraníes. There are innumerable "Paraguayos" groups all over the world. The first and arguably the most famous group was that of Luis Alberto del Paraná, known as Los Paraguayos absolutely. After his death many groups of "Paraguayos" + epithet formed: Los magicos paraguayos, Los buenos paraguayos etc.


Candombé: African rhythm and song form of the black population groups from Río da la Plata. From the candombe or candombé, mixed with habanera and milonga is the tango originated.


Joropo llanero: a very fast and extremely difficult to play rhythm that belongs to the "ritmos endemoniados" (devilishly difficult and fast). The joropo llanerocharacterizes the music of the ranchers from the region Los Llanos in Venezuela. These songs sing of the landscape of the region, the joy of being in Los Llanos to be able to live the work. The joropos are also in Los Llanos sung by Colombia. They are an expression of the joy of life.

Pasaje: next to the joropo llanero the most popular rhythm in Venezuela; a very melodic song form.

polo: one of the few Latin American rhythms and song forms that can be derived directly from the Spanish Flamanco (polo flamenco) have developed. The polo but from Venezuela is slower than that polo flamenco and has no "melismas" like the Andalusian one polo.


(1) Cf. on this Kurt Pahlen, Man and music, Munich 1965, pp. 200-202.

(2) Carlos Vega, quoted from Pahlen, p. 201.

(3) John Storm Roberts, "Sources of Latin American Music," in: Magazine Horizons 82nd Second Festival of World Cultures, Berlin 1982, pp. 66-84.

(4) Storm Roberts, p. 68.

(5) Storm Roberts, p. 68.

(6) Storm Roberts, pp. 69.

(7) Cf. on this inter alia Dieter Reichhardt, tango. Denial and grief. Contexts and texts. Frankfurt a. M. 1981.

(8) Gato Barbieri, quoted from Storm Roberts, p. 73.

(9) Storm Roberts, p. 73.

(10) Storm Roberts, p. 76.

(11) Claus Schreiner: Música Latina. Music folklore between Cuba and Tierra del Fuego. Frankfurt a. M. 1982, pp. 17-18.

(12) The compilation comes from the author, on the basis of the cited literature (especially Schreiner).

(13) Iris M. Zavala: El bolero. Historia de un amor. Madrid 1991.