Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

The folk & traditional music of Europe, Africa & the Americas explored.

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Argentina is a good example of a region that has preserved its Spanish heritage. For example, we find there a multitude of tonadas, songs of a type derived from the old Spanish romance. The Spanish jota was once extremely popular in Argentine cities. The cifra is a song type whose text consists of questions and answers, and which sometimes has antiphonal musical structure with guitar interludes between vocal sections. And there are numerous folk and popular dances of Spanish origin. At the same time, the Argentines seem to have been selective in their choice of Spanish material to be pre­served. Thus they do not have many songs that make use of the pre­sumably Arabic-derived, nonmetrical, ornamented style in Spanish singing; rather, they use the evidently more recent style of Spanish folk music, the style that has lively rhythms, polyphony in parallel thirds or sixths, and a pronounced affection for triple meter. The Spanish romance, itself, and the cante hondo or flamenco did not become important in Argentine folk music. Thus we have an essen­tially Hispanic folk music culture; but there are, nevertheless, dance types derived at least partially from the Indian culture in Argentina. The latter is true to an even greater degree in Chile, a nation which, though geographically in a position somewhat similar to that of Argentina, has a body of folklore more influenced by the Indians.
Argentine folk music has also been influenced to a large extent by the many immigrants from countries other than Spain. Thus it is possible to collect German folk songs, and the large Italian-descended population may be responsible for the tendency of Argentine folk music to consist largely of the rhythmic and sometimes operatic-sounding songs from the Spanish folk repertory. Uruguayan folk music is relatively similar to that of Argentina.
Bolivia and Peru are good examples of nations in which the Spanish culture was very much influenced by that of the Indians. Thus, even their Spanish-speaking villages have a kind of traditional music that has elements of Indian musical culture. The widespread use of panpipes, aboriginally an Indian instrument, is an example. Indian end-blown flutes are used in conjunction with European types of drums in processions for Catholic saints. It is very difficult, in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, to separate the musical elements of In­dian origin from those of the European tradition. Acculturation be­gan in the sixteenth century and was consciously fostered by the Catholic missionaries who realized that the survival of Catholicism depended in part on its absorption of native elements (our theory of

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III