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Where creativity comes from: A glimpse of Argentina’s musical tradition

By exploring Argentinian music, you will not only realize its eclectic nature, but also that it is embedded with many aspects of the Argentine culture, traditions, ways of thinking and living of Argentina’s inhabitants. From the well-known Tango to the popular Folklore, singers and song writers express love, friendship, family ties and even anger and protest.

Firstly, one of the finest genres of the Argentine music is the Tango. It originated in the 19th century and spread all over the world through the work of the French singer, Carlos Gardel and outstanding composers such as Juan D’Arienzo and Astor Piazzola. Many of the songs deal with theme of tragic love and the life of the people who lived in the La Plata River as well as the European immigrants and the working class. It reflects the spirit of Buenos Aires’ suburbs and the nostalgia for the homeland of many people who were forced to leave the country in quest of a better future. The following video of Gardel, “Volver” can illustrate this claim.

One of the most dominant musical styles is the so-called Argentinian folklore. It is widely spread in the north of the country where it takes varied forms: Chacarera, Zamba, Gato, Escondido, Carnavalito and many others. Romantic and often mournful stories are sung to the accompaniment of diverse musical instruments. Folklore is deeply rooted in popular culture and traditions of common countryside people. Famous composers and performers such as Atahualpa Yupanqui, Ariel Ramirez, Jaime Torres, Mercedes Sosa and bands like The Chalchaleros and The Changos often expressed their love for the land, the nature and the exaltation of the simple life. A large number of the songs show the Argentine sentiment and love for our nation. Enjoy the next performance by “La Juntada”.

Another musical genre which attracts the majority of the youth is Argentine rock. It received influence from the European rock bands of the 80s and 90s, particularly from Great Britain. It is called National Rock due to its unique identity and the fact that the songs are mostly in Spanish. It has evolved throughout history with the work of several artists such as Luis Alberto Spinetta, Los Abuelos de la Nada and Norberto Pappo Napolitano, and some time later, Sumo and Serú Girán. It is very extensive to list every singer and band which can be considered renowned and respected, but it is important to recognize that this particular genre represents the rebel and social spirit of the Argentinian rock. For instance, many songs by Fito Paez, León Gieco and Charly García expressed openly their criticism to the ex-military government. Watch and listen to “Los dinosaurios”, an amazing rock song of protest.

At a very different scope, but not really less trendy are The Cumbia and and The Cuarteto genres. The former originated in Colombia and became popular among the middle and lower social classes in the late 1990’s, while the latter was influenced by Spanish and Italian folk music and is distinctive from the province of Córdoba. Generally, both Argentine Cuarteto and Cumbia’s lyrics deal with adultery, clandestine romances, drugs, robbery, and other taboo topics. Although it is somewhat disregarded by many as vulgar and tasteless, these styles are simply music to dance and almost nobody can say that they do not dance it at all since the songs are played in every party and disco. Take a look at the next videos to get a glimpse of these peculiar Argentine musical styles.

In general, music in Argentina encompasses diverse styles and a wide variety of rhythm and sounds which contribute to its uniqueness and popularity. In my view, the music in my country can be taken as a distinctive aspect of its culture, its people, its traditions, customs and political and social idealism. For instance, one of the most exquisite examples of the traditional music is the national anthem written by Vicente Lopez y Planes, and composed by Blas Parera. Delight yourself with the next and final video of the National anthem by a well-known Argentinian regional group from the north of the country “Los Tekis”.

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