Music of Argentina

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The music of Argentina includes a variety of traditional, classical and popular genres. One of the country's most significant cultural contributions is the tango, which originated in Buenos Aires and its surroundings during the end of the 19th century and underwent profound changes throughout the 20th century. Folk music was particularly popular during the 20th century, experiencing a "boom" in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s thanks to artists such as Atahualpa Yupanqui and Mercedes Sosa, prominent figures of the Nuevo cancionero movement. In the mid-to-late 1960s, the countercultural scene of Buenos Aires originated Argentine rock (known locally as rock nacional, Spanish for "national rock"), considered the earliest incarnation of Spanish-language rock for having an autochthonous identity that differed from that of England or the United States. It was widely embraced by the youth and since then has become part of the country's musical identity as much as traditional music. According to the Harvard Dictionary of Music , Argentina also "has one of the richest art music traditions and perhaps the most active contemporary musical life. [1]

Tango Argentinian partner dance

Tango is a popular partner dance and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slave and European immigrant populations. The tango is the result of a combination of the German Waltz, Czech Polka, Polish Mazurka, and Bohemian Schottische with the Spanish-Cuban Habanera, African Candombe, and Argentinian Milonga. The tango was frequently practiced in the brothels and bars of ports, where business owners employed bands to entertain their patrons with music. The tango then spread to the rest of the world. Many variations of this dance currently exist around the world.

Buenos Aires Place in Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina. The city is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the South American continent's southeastern coast. "Buenos Aires" can be translated as "fair winds" or "good airs", but the former was the meaning intended by the founders in the 16th century, by the use of the original name "Real de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre". The Greater Buenos Aires conurbation, which also includes several Buenos Aires Province districts, constitutes the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas, with a population of around 15.6 million.

Atahualpa Yupanqui Argentine singer

Atahualpa Yupanqui was an Argentine singer, songwriter, guitarist, and writer. He is considered the most important Argentine folk musician of the 20th century.


Folk music

Atahualpa Yupanqui, 1968 Don Atahualpa.JPG
Atahualpa Yupanqui, 1968
Los Chalchaleros quartet, 1958 Los Chalchaleros - 1958.png
Los Chalchaleros quartet, 1958
The Abalos brothers, 1945 Hermanos Abalos.gif
The Ábalos brothers, 1945
Ariel Ramirez (at piano), President of the Argentine Society of Authors and Composers, with eminent folklore vocalist Mercedes Sosa, 1972 Mercedes Sosa, Felix Luna y Ariel Ramirez.jpg
Ariel Ramírez (at piano), President of the Argentine Society of Authors and Composers, with eminent folklore vocalist Mercedes Sosa, 1972
Folk guitar virtuoso Eduardo Falu (right) EduardoFalu.jpg
Folk guitar virtuoso Eduardo Falú (right)

Folk music—called música folklórica or folklore in Spanish, from the English folklore —comes in many forms, developed in different parts of Argentina with different European and indigenous influences.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

Folklore Legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, etc.

Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies or folkloristics, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.

Among the first traditional folk groups to record extensively in Argentinia, three of the most influential were from the northwest:

Argentine Northwest

The Argentine Northwest is a geographic and historical region of Argentina composed of the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán.

  1. Los Chalchaleros from the Province of Salta
  2. Los Fronterizos also from the Province of Salta and
  3. the Ábalos brothers from Santiago del Estero Province.
Folk music quartet Los Fronterizos, 1959 Los Fronterizos -Alta Fidelidad (1959).jpg
Folk music quartet Los Fronterizos, 1959

Becoming nearly instant successes following their first albums around 1950, they inspired a revival of the genre in Argentinia. The folklorists Sixto Palavecino, Jorge Cafrune, Facundo Cabral and the folkloric group known as Los Manseros Santiagueños, as well as Los Nocheros are included in the genre.

Sixto Doroteo Palavecino was a poet, musician and singer of Argentine folk music, who started playing the violin when he was 10 years old.

Jorge Cafrune Argentine singer

Jorge Antonio Cafrune was one of the most popular Argentine folklorist singers of his time, as well as an unflagging researcher, compilator, and diffuser of the native culture.

Facundo Cabral Argentine singer and songwriter

Facundo Cabral was an Argentine singer, songwriter and philosopher.

A famous soloist in the genre is guitarist Eduardo Falú, known for the many compositions that set traditional poetry into music. Traditional folk music became increasingly important during the protest movement against the military dictatorship and the community divisions of the 1970s, with artists like Mercedes Sosa and Atahualpa Yupanqui, contributing to the development of nueva canción. Soledad Pastorutti ('La Sole') has brought folklore to a new audience, and in the early 21st century Juana Molina has proposed a fusion between electronic music and folklore with ambient sounds, a gentle voice and short zambas. In 2004 the album Cantor de Cantores, of Horacio Guarany was candidate to the Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. [2]

Eduardo Falú Argentine folk musician

Eduardo Falú was a well-known Argentine folk music guitarist and composer.

Mercedes Sosa Argentine singer

Haydée Mercedes Sosa, sometimes known as La Negra, was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout Latin America and many countries outside the region. With her roots in Argentine folk music, Sosa became one of the preeminent exponents of nueva canción. She gave voice to songs written by many Latin American songwriters. Her music made people hail her as the "voice of the voiceless ones".

Nueva canción is a social movement and musical genre in Iberian America and the Iberian peninsula, characterized by folk-inspired styles and socially committed lyrics. Nueva canción is widely recognized to have played a profound role in the pro-democracy social upheavals in Portugal, Spain and Latin America during the 1970s and 1980s.

Notable Folk Music Festivals

A well-known venue for Argentine folklore music, the Cosquín National Folklore Festival, has been gathering musicians from the genre annually since 1961. A modest event at first, the festival has grown to include folk musicians from neighboring countries and Asia, as well as from throughout Argentina, itself. Focusing on folklore music, the festival nevertheless features talent from the worlds of tango, acoustic music and international culture. [3] On the same time of year is made the Cosquín Rock festival. [4] Cosquín National Folklore Festival typically includes representatives from all musical genres created or developed in Argentina:

Cosquín Festival

The Cosquín Folk Festival is one of the most important folk music festivals of Argentina, and most important in Latin America.

Variations of Argentine Folk Music By Region

Andean music

In northern Argentina, on the borders with Bolivia and Chile, the music of the Andes reflects the spirit of the land with the sounds of local wind, percussion and string instruments. Jaime Torres is a famous Argentine/Bolivian charango player.


Originating in Santiago del Estero, this folk music is accompanied by Spanish guitars and bombo legüero. The name originates from the word "chacra" ("farm"), as it was usually danced in rural areas, but it slowly made its way to the cities of that area. It is one of the few Argentine dances for couples where the woman has an equal opportunity to show off.


Accordion-based Chamamé arose in the northeastern region (provinces of Corrientes, Formosa & Misiones) an area with many settlers from Poland, Austria and Germany. Polkas, Mazurkas and waltzes came with these immigrants, and soon mixed with the Spanish music already present in the area. Chamamé was not very popular internationally in the 20th century, though some artists, such as Argentine superstar Raúl Barboza, became popular later in the century. In the early 21st century Chango Spasiuk, a young Argentine of Ukrainian descent from Misiones province, has once again brought chamamé to international attention.The main basis of all the music of this area on the banks of the Paraná River is its roots in the music of Paraguay across the water.

Francisco Canaro and his Tango Orchestra, circa 1930. OTS-Canaro.jpg
Francisco Canaro and his Tango Orchestra, circa 1930.


Tango arose in the brothels, bars and port areas of Buenos Aires, where waves of Europeans poured into the country mixing various forms of music. The result, tango, came about as a fusion of disparate influences including:

Tango icon Carlos Gardel Carlosgardel10.jpg
Tango icon Carlos Gardel

That combination of European rhythms, brought to Argentinia and Uruguay by traders and immigrants, developed into the swinging milonga around 1900. [6] The milonga quickly became the popular dance of Buenos Aires and slowly evolved into modern tango; since 1930, tango has changed from a dance-focused music to one of lyric and poetry, thanks to vocalists like Carlos Gardel, Roberto Goyeneche, Hugo del Carril, Tita Merello, Susana Rinaldi, Edmundo Rivero and Ignacio Corsini, was equally well known as a folk singer. The golden age of tango (1930 to mid-1950s) mirrored the golden age of Jazz and Swing in the United States, featuring large orchestral tango groups, too, like the bands (known as "Orquestas típicas") led, in particular, by Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro, Osvaldo Pugliese, Aníbal Troilo, Juan d'Arienzo, and Alfredo De Angelis.

After 1955, as the Nueva canción and Argentine rock movements stirred, tango became more intellectual and listener-oriented, led by Ástor Piazzolla's new tango. Many of the musicians that helped Piazzolla promote nuevo tango went on to develop important careers of their own, like violinist Antonio Agri, fellow bandoneón virtuosi José Libertella and Rodolfo Mederos and pianists Horacio Salgán and Pablo Ziegler, who earned a 2005 Grammy Award. Today, tango continues to produce new exponents, has experienced a major revival, and the rise of neo tango is a global phenomenon with groups like Tanghetto, Bajofondo and Gotan Project.

Rock and roll

Soda Stereo in concert. SodaenLima-2100924195.jpg
Soda Stereo in concert.

Argentine rock and roll is commonly known as Argentine rock or Rock Nacional (national rock). In common use, the term includes also rock and pop from Uruguay, due to the common culture, and the existence of many bands with members of both nations (for example, the website lists many bands from Uruguay, and YouTube playlists of Argentine rock commonly include bands from both countries). Though the Rock Nacional usually includes hard core bands, in general terms it incorporates the following genres:


Leo Dan In the Recording Studio. He, Palito Ortega and Leonardo Favio are considered the principal Argentine singers of the Nueva Ola (New Wave) music that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America. Leo Dan.JPG
Leo Dan In the Recording Studio. He, Palito Ortega and Leonardo Favio are considered the principal Argentine singers of the Nueva Ola (New Wave) music that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America.

At the time (late 60s), popular music was a style called ritmo latino, a mainstream pop genre. Bohemian hangouts in Buenos Aires and Rosario were the cradles of the genre, relying heavily on British rock influences, but in the mid-1960s musicians began exploring local musical roots, creating a local sound. Musicians like Litto Nebbia of Los Gatos began recording their own kind of rock. Los Gatos' "La balsa", released early in their year, established the distinctive sound of Argentine rock.

In 1967, in the city of Quilmes, formed one of the most important bands in the history of Argentine rock and roll: Vox Dei.


By 1970 Argentine rock had become established among middle class youth (see Almendra, Pescado Rabioso and Sui Generis). In the 80s, Argentine rock bands became popular across Latin America and elsewhere (Serú Girán, Soda Stereo, Virus, Rata Blanca, Enanitos Verdes, Riff, Charly García).

From that decade become a staple of popular culture with many cultural/social styles: underground, mainstream oriented, some associated with:

1980s and 1990s

Argentine rock and roll was the most listened-to music among youth in the late 80s and 90s; its influence and success has expanded internationally owing to a rich and uninterrupted evolution. [7]

Popular bands and solo singers include Charly García, Indio Solari, Xavier Moyano, Skay Beilinson, Fabiana Cantilo, Andrés Ciro Martínez, Andrés Calamaro, Javier Calamaro, Sandra Mihanovich, Litto Nebbia, Juanse, es:Pequeña Orquesta Reincidentes, La Renga, Vox Dei, Enanitos Verdes, Las Pelotas, Horcas, Los Tipitos, Carajo, Tren Loco, Jauría, Cabezones, Jóvenes Pordioseros, Kapanga, Guasones, Divididos, Attaque 77, La 25, Pez, El Otro Yo, Los Auténticos Decadentes, Casi Justicia Social, Rata Blanca, Mancha de Rolando, Viejas Locas, La Beriso, Intoxicados, Estelares, Árbol, Catupecu Machu, Almafuerte, Malón, Bersuit Vergarabat, Massacre Palestina, 2 Minutos, Los Piojos, Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado, Salta la Banca, Alejandro Toledo, Cadena Perpetua, In Corp Sanctis, Enanitos Verdes, Banda de Turistas, Los Frenéticos, The Tormentos, The Broken Toys, Satan Dealers, Pelea de Gallos, Valle de Muñecas, Autopista, normA, Bôas Teitas, Los Barreiro, Los Primitivos, El Violinista del Amor & los Pibes que Miraban, Chillan Las Bestias, Crema del Cielo, Thes Siniestros, Los Lotus, The Hates, The Vulcanos, Cuadros Invitados, Error Positivo, Fantasmagoria, Los Acetones, Viaje an Ixtlan, Agente Naranja, Satélite Kingston, The Tandooris, Gram D Mori, The Jacqueline Trash, Los Alamos, Rubin y Los Subtitulados, Sick Porky, Hacia Dos Veranos, Caballeros de la Quema, Turf, Ciro y los Persas.

Former bands include Patricio Rey y sus Redonditos de Ricota, Soda Stereo, El Reloj, Pescado Rabioso, Serú Girán, Invisible, Los Gatos, Callejeros, Almendra, Los Violadores, Riff, V8, Ratones Paranoicos, A.N.I.M.A.L., Hermética, Latorre.

Popular Argentine rock musicians include Charly García, Gustavo Cerati, Andrés Calamaro, Luis Alberto Spinetta, Indio Solari, Litto Nebbia, Fito Páez and Pappo.


Argentine electronic music experienced a surge of popularity in the 1990s. [7] Rocker Gustavo Cerati switched to electronica in 1999. [8] Electronic dance parties and shows like Creamfields BA are favorites among thousands. [9] Prominent electronica DJs include veteran Diego Ro-K, Hernán Cattáneo who has played Burning Man, and drum and bass star Bad Boy Orange. [7] Indietronica bands like Entre Ríos have also become popular. Bajofondo Tango Club and the Gotan Project have fused tango with electronica. [10] [ full citation needed ] From the Zizek Club in Buenos Aires, ZZK Records began in 2007 to create a fusion of electronica and cumbia. [11]


Ballad crooner Sandro, 1966. "The Gypsy", as he is popularly known, was popular with female audiences. Sandro-almayfuego-66.jpg
Ballad crooner Sandro, 1966. "The Gypsy", as he is popularly known, was popular with female audiences.

Pop bands have seen great popularity, topped by Bandana, the most popular. Other artists in this genre include Miranda! with a touch of "electro" sound, Alejandro Lerner, Axel (singer), Valeria Lynch, María Jimena Pereyra and Babasónicos, of lasting popularity. Artists combining experimentation with glam include Airbag and Juana la Loca, in addition to Arbol, an artist combining hardcore with pop and violins. In the recent years, Lali Espósito became the biggest exponent of pop music in Argentina.


Cumbia is an important part of contemporary Argentine music, originally derived from the Colombian cumbia. This genre become popular slowly from the 1960s with the irruption in Argentina of the important Colombian bands Los Wawancó and Cuarteto Imperial. Argentine bands and soloists of cumbia originated in the north of the country and in Santa Fe province, the first regions where cumbia become popular. In the next decades cumbia widespread by all the country, becoming in the late 1990s the most popular music in the lower class. In 1999, in the north of the Greater Buenos Aires, originated a lyric style of cumbia named cumbia villera (slum cumbia), who is aggressive and explicit (similar to punk rock or gangsta rap). From the 2000s to nowadays, cumbia become the most listened music genre among the youth.

Los Palmeras, Los del Fuego, Damas Gratis, Los Leales, Agapornis, La Nueva Luna, Amar Azul, Los Lamas, Flor de Piedra, Meta Guacha, Mala Fama, Supermerk2, La Liga, Ráfaga, Jambao, Grupo Trinidad, Antonio Ríos, Daniel Agostini, Karina, Dalila, Sebastián Mendoza, Mario Luis, Mario Pereyra, Sonido Mazter, Antonio Rios, Organización X, Los Astros and Grupo Green. Popular defunct bands and deceased solo acts include: Los del Bohío, Los Wachiputos, Los Wachiturros, Yerba Brava, Pibes Chorros, La Base Musical, Grupo Sombras, Leo Mattioli and Gilda.


Cuarteto, or Cuartetazo, is a form of dance music similar to Merengue. It became popular in Argentinia during the 1940s, beginning with the genre's namesake and innovator, Cuarteto Leo and underwent a revival in the 1980s, especially in Córdoba. A national idol emerged in the brief career of Rodrigo in the late 1990s. The most popular and enduring cuarteto singer is La Mona Jiménez, who has released more than 100 albums and continues recording; his work inspired other musicians in the genre.

Other Genres and Their Representative Artists




Reggaeton & Latin trap

Art music


Tito Alberti, 1957. Tito Alberti.jpg
Tito Alberti, 1957.
Tenorman Gato Barbieri, 1970. Gato Barbieri.JPG
Tenorman Gato Barbieri, 1970.

Though much of Argentinia's jazz scene revolves around the new tango popularized by Ástor Piazzolla in the 1960s, Argentine musicians have created or interpreted a considerable body of be-bop, straight-ahead and latin jazz, since then.


Among the first to garner a wide audience was guitarist Oscar Alemán who, after performing with Brazilian artists, moved to Paris and performed for legendary dancer Josephine Baker; his swing style earned him a loyal following through the 1940s and 1950s. The popularity of mambo and latin jazz, generally, during the 1950s opened doors for drummer Tito Alberti, who recorded frequently with Cuban "mambo king" Dámaso Pérez Prado and popularized the genre locally with his renowned "Jazz Casino." The later emergence of the use of synthesizers in jazz found an Argentine adherent in Jorge Anders, whose quartet became known for modal jazz compositions like Suave como un amanecer in 1965. One of his frequent collaborators, pianist Gustavo Kereztesachi, became acclaimed for his airy interpretations of John Coltrane and Oliver Nelson standards, as well as for compositions of his own like the swinging The gun and Como luces esta noche.


Following the emergence of "new tango" in the 1960s, one of Piazzolla's fellow bandoneónists he influenced most became a noted jazz composer in his own right. Rodolfo Mederos' 1976 album Fuera de broma 8 fused be-bop with tango and acoustic rock; Mederos has since recorded numerous albums and film scores. His success with jazz fusion inspired others, like fellow bandoneónist Dino Saluzzi, guitarist Lito Epumer and alto sax man Bernardo Baraj.

1970s to 1990s

Later in the 1970s and through the 1990s, drummer Pocho Lapouble became well known for his jazz trio and film scores. Argentine jazz saxophonists have also become prominent in their genre. Alto saxophonist Andrés Boiarsky, who emerged in 1986 performing the film score for Hombre mirando al sudeste ("Man Facing Southeast"), records extensively to this day, collaborating with latin jazz greats like Paquito D'Rivera and Claudio Roditi. Carlos Franzetti's work and arrangements for the 1992 feature film, The Mambo Kings , earned him a Latin Grammy.

Notable Argentine Jazz Music

The best-known Argentine jazz musician internationally is probably Leandro Gato Barbieri. The tenor saxophonist worked with renowned big band orchestra conductor Lalo Schifrin in the early 1960s, shortly before Schifrin became internationally known for his composition of the theme to Mission: Impossible . Hired by jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, the two recorded Complete Communion in 1965, an album that secured their reputation in the jazz world. Barbieri went on to record his influential Caliente! (1976), an album combining latin jazz and experimental work such as his own and jazz fusion great Carlos Santana's, as well as Qué pasa (1997), which draws more deeply from Argentine folklore roots.

Growing from the Jazzología series begun by local jazz enthusiast Carlos Inzillo in 1984, the Buenos Aires Jazz Festival has, since 2002, attracted legends and newcomers from all major jazz genres, as well as avant-garde sounds. The festival has been graced by performers like Kenny Barron, Michael Brecker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter and Chucho Valdés.

Classical music

The Buenos Aires Philharmonic has its home in the renowned Colón Opera House. Founded in 1946, it is considered one of the more prestigious orchestras in its nation and Latin America, and has received several honors in 60 years of history. Another well established orchestra is the Argentine National Symphony Orchestra.

Prominent Argentine composers in the genre include symphonic composer Juan José Castro, Alberto Williams, who was known for his early fusion of nativist and classical genres, Carlos Guastavino, known for his romanticist works, Judith Akoschky and Alberto Ginastera, a composer considered one of the most important Latin American contributors to classical music. Internationally known performers include pianist Martha Argerich, violinist Alberto Lysy, guitarist María Isabel Siewers, tenor José Cura, mezzo-soprano Margherita Zimmermann, and pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, who has directed the Orchestre de Paris, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin State Opera. Les Luthiers are included in the genre.




See also

Related Research Articles

Astor Piazzolla Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was an Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player, and arranger. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. A virtuoso bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with a variety of ensembles.

The music of Latin America refers to music originating from Latin America, namely the Romance-speaking countries and territories of the Americas and the Caribbean south of the United States. Latin American music also incorporates African music from slaves who were transported to the Americas by European settlers as well as music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Due to its highly syncretic nature, Latin American music encompasses a wide variety of styles, including influential genres such as cumbia, bachata, bossa nova, merengue, rumba, salsa, samba, son, and tango. During the 20th century, many styles were influenced by the music of the United States giving rise to genres such as Latin pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and reggaeton.

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Milonga (music) musical genre

Milonga is a musical genre that originated in the Río de la Plata areas of Argentina and Uruguay. It was very popular in the 1870s. It was derived from an earlier style of singing known as the payada de contrapunto. The song was set to a lively 2
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Aníbal Troilo Argentine tango musician (1914-1975)

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Tanghetto band

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Luis Pereyra Argentine dancer

Luis Pereyra is a dancer and choreographer of Tango Argentino and Argentinian folklore.


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