6 Genres Of Latin American Folk Music

By Vasti Carrion                                        June 1st, 2022

What is folk music for humanity? It brings you closer to the very core of what is important in this universe. It’s a musical history book in music notes of whole and 16th notes. You can travel with your ears to Latin America’s heart song of music by the people: folk music is music by the common folk.

According to Dictionary.com the universally acknowledged definition of “folk music” is a kind of music originating from the ordinary people of a region or nation and continued by oral tradition. Folk music is certainly a “kind” gift for humanity.


         This Latin American folk genre calls to bring humanity together in a close Argentinian embrace of red folk clothes, which swings together in a partner dance exuding love’s courtship. It brings together the rudiments of this music genre’s instruments: its vihuela and violin that makes this genre possible by pumping blood to the heart of Chamamé. The song of this music can break the music veins of your heart. Lyrics in Chamamé are sung in Gurani---a native indian language of Corrientes, Argentina that is meant to worship. With a harmonica that whispers of humanity’s heritage within it’s tunes, this musical range style became a UNESCO (United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization)  world heritage landmark in 2020 as an intangible cultural expression. 

           Originating in Spain, Fandango fans the winds of love into a dance that is widely seen as a courtship dance that anchors the eyes of the lovers who sway to music notes of castanets, guitars and the teardrops of a violin that falls in where it originated: Spain. Fandango began to cast love spells into the Spanish and Portugal cultures in the 18th century with its first documentation by a Spanish priest. The dance showcases the beauty of human courtships (from first-glaces of infatuation, to the coyness of coquetry and flirtations of attraction). With Moorish origins the Spanish dance and its remnants has moored our world culture.

 The Cueca carries the nationalism of Chile through every dance step. It symbolizes the countryside of this South American country through the emulations of a rooster and hen’s wooing by the winds of panpipes and tubas. This dance left its print in history books from the  19th century. As the tide of time has swayed through decades, the cueca has been on a rolling dice of hardships that mirrors the people of Chile’s life challenges. It provided support to Chileans during the 20th century dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet by serving as a dance to protest inhumanity or turning the population against the dance as a symbol of nationalism to protest against its country.

Vallenato was “born in the valley” in 1900s Valledupar, Columbia, with guacharaca, a caja vallenata drum and accordion instruments to weave its culture in music notes that educates the ear. In every music note you can hear the jokes, gossip and memories of the folk from the valleys of Columbia. This traditional folk music genre is the musical incarnation of an Afro-mestizo, as it blends the African, European and indigenous cultures. You can see the face of Columbian people in the musical sounds of vallenato--- music is the reflection of the people. 

The Tamborito is a Panamanian folk dance that vibrates from the Spanish language translating as ‘little drum’ in English--- a meaning only music notes can make you understand beyond the senses. African slaves walked Panama’s soils and left a blueprint in Panama by intermixing cultures in the 17th century with the product of el tamborito dance. While Africans couldn’t be free in the 17th century they found freedom in dancing while holding their skirts and the man being genteel in song and working for a woman’s heart. The Tamborito is as national as Panama’s flag, Panama’s flag for musical feet is el tamborito.

SanJuanito is a folk dance which hugs the indigenous and European cultures together in Imbabura, Ecuador with harmony. This dance, as your foot falls into the earth, is a rhythmic representation of how your place is stationed to nature and planet earth. With its indigenous roots, it gives reverence, as the indigenous do: to mother earth. The  Spanish Catholicism carried from a ship and stranded in the name of this dance SanJuanito-- is a celebration of John The Baptist magnified on June 24. This dance is not as extinct as the region's volcano Imbabura, and erupts with musical instruments such as the rondador, pinguillo and quena. 

         Folk music is an ode to human love as every sway of the foot persuades the dancers in a flirtation of musical sounds. It shines the light on the importance of human courtship and you did not just hear this from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but from the evidence in what humans decide to give homage! You can fall in love while dancing or fall in love with the dances. With folk music being the music of the people, with colorful peasant tops and skirts to travel in motions, their stories are left to be in musical translations for the American eye’s joy. Folk dances of Latin America are as if the conquistadores are wooing Latin America’s land and its people with instruments with roots in the ancient. 


Please submit articles and pitches to: TheCaliforniaPoppyTimes@gmail.com




                                                          ©TheCaliforniaPoppyTimesNews. All rights reserved.