Music of Nicaragua

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Music of Nicaragua Topics
Palo de Mayo
Reggaeton Cumbia
Pop Rock
Marimba music Pop
Folklorico Merengue
Reggae Soca
Bachata Bongos
Timeline and Samples
Central American music
Belize - Music of Costal plains|Costa Rica]] - El Salvador - Guatemala - Honduras - Nicaragua - Panama

Music of Nicaragua is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, influences. Musical instruments include the marimba and others that are common across Central America. Pop music includes Cuban, Brazilian, Mexican and Panamanian performers, as well as those from Europe and the United States. [1]

Nicaragua Country in Central America

Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Musical instrument History and classification

A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications.


Nicaraguans enjoy their local artist's music but also enjoy music from around the world. They enjoy the Dominican Republic's bachata and merengue, Jamaica's reggae, Panama's reggaeton and Colombia's Cumbia among other genres including pop. [2] Among the younger crowds, heavy metal and rock have become very popular. [3]

Bachata is a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the first half of the 20th century with Indigenous, African and European musical elements.

Merengue is a type of music and dance originating in the Dominican Republic, which has become a very popular genre throughout Latin America, and also in several major cities in the United States which have Hispanic communities.

Reggae Music genre from Jamaica

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as "Rudie Blues", then "Ska", later "Blue Beat", and "Rock Steady". It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. The immediate origins of reggae were in ska and rocksteady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.

Styles of music

Life in Nicaragua
Human Rights

Nicaraguan music is a mixture of different cultures from indigenous tribes, European conquerors, and slaves. Styles of music vary throughout the different regions in the country. In the Caribbean coast music with African and indigenous influence are heard, in the Pacific coast the music is considered to be a mixture of the indigenous and Spanish culture and in the North/Central region of Nicaragua the music has more of a European flavor, this is because of the significant wave of Europeans, mostly Germans, that live in the region. European influenced dances like the polka and Mazurka are also danced in this region. [3]

The polka is originally a Bohemian dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia and Finland, and to a lesser extent in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the other Nordic countries, Spain's Basque Country, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America, Canada and the United States.

The Mazurka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, and with "strong accents unsystematically placed on the second or third beat". Originally from the cultural region of Mazovia, it is one of Poland's national dances. The Mazurka, alongside the polka dance, became popular at the ballrooms of Europe in the 19th century, particularly through the notable works by Frédéric Chopin.

The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for its Palo de Mayo, which is a lively and sensual form of dance music that is especially loud and celebrated during the Palo de Mayo festival. The Garifuna community exists in Nicaragua and is known for its popular music called Punta. Also, Soca, Reggaeton and Reggae is popular throughout the country.

Caribbean Region to the center-east of America composed of many islands / coastal regions surrounding the Caribbean Sea

The Caribbean is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coasts. The region is southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland, east of Central America, and north of South America.

Palo de Mayo is a type of Afro-Caribbean dance with sensual movements that forms part of the culture of several communities in the RAAS region in Nicaragua, as well as Belize, the Bay Islands of Honduras and Bocas del Toro in Panama. It is also the name given to the month-long May Day festival celebrated on the Caribbean coast. Both the festival and dance are an Afro-Nicaraguan tradition which originated in Bluefields, Nicaragua in the 17th century.

Dance music music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing

Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement. In terms of performance, the major categories are live dance music and recorded dance music. While there exist attestations of the combination of dance and music in ancient times, the earliest Western dance music that we can still reproduce with a degree of certainty are the surviving medieval dances. In the Baroque period, the major dance styles were noble court dances. In the classical music era, the minuet was frequently used as a third movement, although in this context it would not accompany any dancing. The waltz also arose later in the classical era. Both remained part of the romantic music period, which also saw the rise of various other nationalistic dance forms like the barcarolle, mazurka, ecossaise, ballade and polonaise.

Rhythms like the trova became essential to writers in the post-war scenario of the 70s and 80s. Writers used trova to express social injustice, their hope for a better tomorrow, patriotism, and ecological conservation. This, in time, became a rhythm used in artistic Nicaraguan creations, and it therefore also became part of the culture. Well known in this category is Duo Guardabarranco, formed by the brothers Salvador and Katia Cardenal. [4]


Trova is one of the great roots of the Cuban musical tree. In the 19th century a group of itinerant musicians known as trovadores moved around Oriente, especially Santiago de Cuba, earning their living by singing and playing the guitar. According to one writer, to qualify as a trovador in Cuba, a person should a) sing songs of his own composition, or of others of the same kind; b) accompany himself on the guitar; and c) deal poetically with the song. This definition fits best the singers of boleros, and less well the Afrocubans singing funky sones or even guaguancós and abakuá. It rules out, perhaps unfairly, singers who accompanied themselves on the piano.

Dúo Guardabarranco was a Nicaraguan duo consisting of siblings Katia Cardenal and Salvador Cardenal. The duo has been a significant worldwide ambassador for Nicaraguan and Latin-American folk music for the last three decades, and has gained a broad international audience with their poetic lyrics about hope, peace and justice, wrapped in their outstanding harmonies and melodies. They are named after the Nicaraguan national bird, the Turquoise-browed motmot, locally referred to as Guardabarranco.

Katia Cardenal Nicaraguan singer

Katia Cardenal is a Nicaraguan singer/songwriter, and a part of the nueva trova movement. Katia and her brother Salvador Cardenal form the Duo Guardabarranco, one of the leading proponents of nueva trova, known for classical songs like Guerrero del amor, Guardabosques, Casa Abierta and Colibri. As a solo artist, Katia Cardenal has released seven albums with the Norwegian label Kirkelig Kulturverksted BRAZOS DE SOL, NAVEGAS POR LAS COSTAS, EN REVESLANDIA, FRAGANCIA, SUEÑO DE UNA NOCHE DE VERANO, VEN A MI CASA ESTA NAVIDAD, MESSE FOR KARI OG OLE (with norwegian choque Skruk, and three with Nicaraguan MOKA Discos. MARIPOSA DE ALAS ROTAS, HOJARASCA y MISA CAMPESINA NICARAGÜENSE.

Another popular musical genre in Nicaragua is the Chicheros, often consisting of a trumpet and trombone or other brass instruments, with additional musicians playing various percussions. This is often to be heard in private parties around the country. [3]


The marimba of Nicaragua distinguishes itself from the other forms of marimba in Central America by the way it is played. Nicaragua's marimba is played by a sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. They are usually accompanied by a bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla (a small guitar similar to a mandolin). This music is played at social functions as a sort of background music. The marimba is made with hardwood plates, placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths. It is played with two or four hammers. [1]


Indigenous theater groups performed with music and dance. Theatrical manifestations include the Elegant Knights of Huaco Bull and the UNESCO proclaimed masterpiece, "El Güegüense", among many others.

Nicaraguans in Music

One of the most prominent composers from Nicaragua is the leonés musician José de la Cruz Mena (1874-1907). He wrote a variety of romantic waltzes that display sounds inspired by common and daily experiences, or natural scenarios. Among those compositions, we found titles such as "El Nacatamal," "Los Turcos," and "Ruinas." Besides, Mena's pieces are evocative of biblical characters and love relationship; titles like "Amores de Abraham," "Bonita Margarita," "Rosalía" are part of the most representative ones. By the time, Mena gathered popularity and influenced composers from different countries of the Americas; additionally, in the late 1800's, his name reached Asia and Europe particularly Germany and Italy inspiring Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.

Another relevant composer is Luis Abraham Delgadillo, with several symphonies, stage works, orchestral pieces, chamber music, songs, and piano music to his credit, and Camilo Zapata, creator of the Nicaraguan Sound. Erwin Krüger, creator of Barrio de Pescadores (Fisherman's District). Justo Santos creator of La Mora Limpia (A Clean Coffee Bean), considered Nicaragua's popular anthem.

Other prominent national musicians, groups, and songwriters include Lía Barrios, Marcio Brenes Mejía from Somoto, Nicaragua, Katia Cardenal, Salvador Cardenal, Marina Cárdenas, Dimension Costeña, Norma Helena Gadea, Macolla, Carlos Mejía Godoy, Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, Luis Enrique Mejía López (known as Luis Enrique), Los Mokuanes, Sergio Tapia, and Hernaldo Zúñiga.

Of the younger generation of Nicaraguan singer-songwriters there are a few notable such as Latin Grammy Nominee Ramón Armando Mejía (Perrozompopo), Arturo Vaughan, Moisés Gadea, Juan Montenegro, Junior Escobar, Elsa Basil, Cecilia Ferrer, Alejandro Carlos Mejía, Clara Grun, Noel Portocarrero, Duo Guardabarranco, Juan Solorzano, and Marcio Brenes JR.. Also, rock bands such as Necrosis, Grupo Armado, Crisis, Monroy y Surmenage, Mano de Vidrio, Contrapeso, Q69K, Kerfodermo, Resistencia, Carga Cerrada and Cecilia & The Argonauts.

Hip Hop and Reggaeton artist include Torombolo, J Smooth, Mr. Meli, Nello Style, Nica and Lingo Nicoya.

Nicaragua's Caribbean coast is home to prominent reggae singers and groups such as Philip Montalban, Carlos de Nicaragua, Kali Boom, Warrior Street (Singer), Sabu, Sabu Sr. and Osberto Jerez y los Gregory's.

Also notable instrumentalists such as guitarists Tony Melendez, Arturo Vaughan, Roberto Vaughan, Eduardo Araica, Omar Suazo, Arnulfo Oviedo, Saulo Pérez, and Andrés Sánchez, marimba player Carlos Luis Mejia, drummers Jorge Lanzas, Bikentios Chávez, Matute, Johnny Metralla, Henry Palacios, and percussionist José Areas who was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the band Santana. [5]

Related Research Articles

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.

Panama is a Central American country, inhabited mostly by mestizos. The music of Panama was influenced first by the indigenous populations of Kunas, Teribes, Ngobe Bugle and others, and then by the black population who were brought over, first as slaves from Africa, between the 16th century and the 19th century, and then voluntarily to work on the Panamanian Railroad and Canal projects between the 1840s and 1914.

Music of El Salvador

The music of El Salvador has a mixture of Lenca, Cacaopera, Mayan, Pipil, and Spanish influences. This music includes religious songs used to celebrate Christmas and other holidays, especially feast days of the saints with Tubular bells Chimes. Satirical and rural lyrical themes are common and played with Xylophone.

The music of Honduras is very varied. Punta is the main "ritmo" of Honduras with other sounds such as Caribbean salsa, merengue, reggae, and reggaeton all widely heard especially in the North, to Mexican rancheras heard in the interior rural part of the country. Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa is an important center for modern Honduran music, and is home to the College for Fine Arts.

Central American music

Central America is dominated by the popular Latin music, or Black Caribbean trends, including salsa, cumbia, mariachi, reggae, calypso and nueva canción. The countries of Central America have produced their own distinct forms of these genres such as Panamanian salsa, among others. One of the well-known forms of Central American music is punta, a style innovated by the syncretic Garifunas who live across the region, in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. The marimba, a type of xylophone, is perhaps the most important folk instrument of Central America, and it is widespread throughout the region.

Vallenato Colombian music genre

Vallenato, along with cumbia, is a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in north-east Colombia. The name also applies to the people from the city where this genre originated: Valledupar. In 2006, vallenato and cumbia were added as a category in the Latin Grammy Awards. Colombia’s traditional vallenato music is Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, according to UNESCO.

Nicaraguans People of Nicaragua

Nicaraguans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Nicaragua. Most Nicaraguans live in Nicaragua, although there is also a significant Nicaraguan diaspora, particularly in Costa Rica and the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world. There are also people living in Nicaragua who are not Nicaraguans because they were not born or raised in Nicaragua nor have they gained citizenship.

Carlos Mejía Godoy Nicaraguan musician

Carlos Mejía Godoy is a Nicaraguan musician (accordion), composer and singer. He was born in Somoto, Madriz. Son of Carlos Mejía Fajardo and María Elsa Godoy, his brother Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, three years younger than he is, is also an acclaimed and much-loved musician. Carlos and Luis Enrique were pivotal in the New Song Movement in Central America beginning in the 1970s. They were both recently honored with Nicaragua's highest cultural distinction, the Order of Rubén Darío.

Somoto, Madriz Municipality in Madriz, Nicaragua

Somoto is a city and municipality located in the hills of northern Nicaragua, and capital of the department of Madriz. It is around 20 km south-west of Ocotal and 51 km north-west of Estelí. It sits on the Pan-American Highway around 16 km from the Honduran border crossing at El Espino.

Latin American culture is the formal or informal expression of the people of Latin America and includes both high culture and popular culture as well as religion and other customary practices. Its central component derives from the Iberian culture, a type of Western Culture.

Nicaraguan literature can be traced to pre-Columbian times with the myths and oral literature that formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had. Some of these stories are still known in Nicaragua. Like many Latin American countries, the Spanish conquerors have had the most effect on both the culture and the literature. The literature of Nicaragua has had many important literary figures in the Spanish language with internationally prominent writers such as Rubén Darío, who is regarded as the most important literary figure in Nicaragua. He is referred to as the "Father of Modernism" for leading the modernismo literary movement at the end of the 19th century. Other important literary figures include Salomón de la Selva, Carlos Martínez Rivas, Pablo Antonio Cuadra, Alberto Cuadra Mejia, Manolo Cuadra Vega, Pablo Alberto Cuadra Arguello, Ernesto Cardenal, Sergio Ramírez Mercado, Gioconda Belli, José Coronel Urtecho, Alfonso Cortés, Julio Valle Castillo, and Claribel Alegría, among others.

Luis Enrique (singer) Nicaraguan singer

Luis Enrique Mejía López is a Nicaraguan singer and composer. He attended La Serna High School in Whittier, CA. He started his career in the late 1980s and achieved success in the 1990s, earning the title "El Príncipe de la Salsa". He was one of the leading pioneers that led to the salsa romántica movement in the 1980s. Enrique has received two Grammy Award-nomination for "Best Tropical Latin Performance" for album Luces del Alma and his song "Amiga". He performed and recorded with salsa romántica group Sensation 85, which also included La Palabra and Nestor Torres. In 2009, his album Ciclos was nominated for numerous Latin Grammy Awards, his biggest breakthrough in over a decade. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

Perrozompopo is the artistic name of Nicaraguan songwriter Ramón Armando Mejía Fitoria. He belongs to a generation of ideological and social changes that profoundly marked the compass of his work. War, poverty, the martyrs, the bullet from dictatorship, men and women missing children, marginalization, the church, silence, corruption, children, music, the guitar army, the car and the bus thief, the silent face of so many people from the countryside, the lack of letters and desks, friends, love, disappointment, and the ideas that still exist beneath the cobblestones, are mixed with the music copyright, rock, the ballad, rap, reggae, Latin American and other influences, given geography to this new urban music-tance, is also the result of all these transformations and experiences of Nicaraguans; a lost generation.

The Misa Campesina Nicaragüense is Spanish-language Mass with words and music by Carlos Mejía Godoy, incorporating a liberation theology and Nicaraguan folk music. It was composed in the artistic community of Solentiname and first performed in 1975, its liturgical use being prohibited within a few days. It has been praised by Dorothee Sölle for fully overcoming the "theological danger of docetism".

Salvador de Jesús Cardenal Barquero was a Nicaraguan singer-songwriter and was one of the most renowned songwriters in Nicaragua and Central America, also a poet, painter and ecologist. Father of two children, Salvador Joaquín & Guillermo Nicolas.


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  2. El Nuevo Diario - Managua, Nicaragua - Con Todo el Poder de la Información
  3. 1 2 3 "Culture; Music and Dance". Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  4. "Culture; Contemporary Artists". Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  5. "Santana". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2008-12-06.

[CAMPOS FONSECA, Susan: "Historia compensatoria y Filosofía: Un caso centroamericano", en BABAB, Nº33, verano, España, 2008, ISSN · 1575-9385. Disponible en:]