Bolivian MusicBolivian Music

Bolivian Music

Like its history of mixtures, crossbreeding, syncretisms, the music in Bolivia is frighteningly diverse.  

    Each region has its own rhythm, its own instrument, its own air, and nothing but its own. Impossible to give you a state of the art, there, now, in a few lines. However, here are a few ideas: 

 In the Andes, the melodies are marked by the sound of the zampoña (pan flute), the charango (small 10-stringed guitar with high notes, particularly typical of the Potosi region but spread throughout the Andes) and the kena (Andean recorder). Originally without words, the melancholic tunes were soon accompanied by tragic, melodramatic texts (in Quechua, Aymara or Spanish) for the needs of the mass market. 

On the contrary, in the hot plains, towards Tarija, the western guitar, the accordion and other instruments, strange to say the least, make the crowds dance with lively, lively and cheerful rhythms.  

 Apart from these ancient musical traditions, the Jesuits brought baroque music with them to the plains of Bolivia. A real curiosity, many natives learned how to make and play the harp, violins, etc..   This cultural imprint has remained very much alive over the years, and even today we can still see operatic works and concerts of baroque music given by the best musicians from Guarani, Moxo or Chiquitano.  

 The arias that you can hear on the buses, in the market, at parties, in the street, is a mixture of these rather traditional music with more contemporary rhythms (cumbia, etc.). The tunes you will hear in buses, at the market, in parties, in the street, is a mixture of these traditional music with more contemporary rhythms (cumbia, etc.); and this gives flagship groups of contemporary Bolivian song, such as Los Kjarkas (who are the true inventors of the Lambada, whether Brazilians like it or not), Savia Andina, K'ala Marka, Altitude, Los Jairas... Great musicians mark the Bolivian traditions, such as the classical guitarist Javier Calderon, or the violinist Jaime Laredo. The peñas are small restaurants in the city of La Paz, where musicians come to play traditional tunes. Numerous (pirated) records are on sale everywhere, on the sidewalks, in the markets, etc.

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