Music of Venezuela

Last updated
Cover of the first edition of Alma Llanera, unofficial second national anthem of Venezuela Alma llanera.jpg
Cover of the first edition of Alma Llanera, unofficial second national anthem of Venezuela

Several styles of the traditional music of Venezuela , such as salsa and merengue, are common to its Caribbean neighbors. Perhaps the most typical Venezuelan music is joropo, a rural form which originated in the llanos, or plains.

Venezuela Republic in northern South America

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Salsa music Latin American dance music genre

Salsa music is a popular dance music genre that initially arose in New York City during the 1960s. Salsa is the product of various musical genres including the Cuban son montuno, guaracha, cha cha chá, mambo, and to a certain extent bolero, and the Puerto Rican bomba and plena. Latin jazz, which was also developed in New York City, has had a significant influence on salsa arrangers, piano guajeos, and instrumental soloists.

Venezuelan merengue

Merengue is a musical form extended through all the Caribbean. The first occurrences of merengue in print in Venezuela are from scores of “dance merengue” of the second half of the 19th century. As a dance craze, merengue acquired popularity in Caracas during the 1920s. It is distinct from the vastly more popular Dominican merengue. Although they share the same name, the rhythms have very little in common, except that they were commonly written for partner dancing.




Venezuelan Joropo. Drawing by Eloy Palacios (1912) Joropo foto.jpg
Venezuelan Joropo. Drawing by Eloy Palacios (1912)

Joropo was developed by creative artists such as Juan Vicente Torrealba, Ignacio Figueredo, Eneas Perdomo and Angel Custodio Loyola, who helped to popularize the music throughout the country. Since then a slick, contemporary form of pop-llanera has developed which has earned the scorn of some purists who perceive it as stale and watered-down. Some singers, such as Adilia Castillo, Simon Diaz and Reynaldo Armas have maintained a huge following over the years. In a similar vein, there is also neo-folklore, which takes traditional music and arranges it in an electronic style.

Juan Vicente Torrealba Venezuelan musician

Juan Vicente Torrealba is a Venezuelan harpist and composer of popular music. He turned 100 in February 2017.

Ignacio Figueredo Venezuelan musician

Ignacio Ventura Figueredo, was a Venezuelan folk musician and harpist.

Eneas Perdomo was a Venezuelan popular singer. He was one of the most recognized singer/songwriters of the Venezuelan Joropo genre.


Velorio de Cruz de Mayo, drawing by Anton Goering (1892) Velorio de Cruz de Mayo, drawing by Anton Goering, 1892.jpg
Velorio de Cruz de Mayo, drawing by Anton Goering (1892)

Another very popular music in Venezuela is the Gaita Zuliana . This genre originated from the region of Zulia State and is very popular during the Christmas season. The gaita united to the Aguinaldo, conforms the national representation of the Venezuelan Christmas. In the east, the malagueña, punto and galerón accompanies the velorios de cruz de mayo, (religious tradition, that is celebrated on May 3 in honor to the Christian cross). In the Venezuelan Andes, the Venezuelan bambuco is a local variation of the bambuco. Other forms include polo and the Venezuelan waltz. The Quinteto Contrapunto, founded by Rafael Suárez and Aida Navarro, was a celebrated Venezuelan vocal quintet which reached nationwide and international celebrity in the early 1960s, and was very active for about a decade.

Aguinaldo is a folk genre of Christmas music in several Latin American countries, based on Spanish Christmas carols or villancicos which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the holiday season. Aguinaldo music is often performed by parrandas - a casual group of people, often family or friends, who merrily go from house to house taking along their singing.

The Malagueña is a genre of folk music from eastern Venezuela. Typically, the mandolin is accompanied by the cuatro and guitar.

The punto is a musical genre typical of eastern Venezuela. It is also called punto y llanto, punto cruzado, punto fuerte and punto mampó.

Other forms of Venezuelan folk music are tensively recorded and researched due to the work of Caracas-based Fundación Bigott. African-derived percussion (including multiple rhythms, such as sangueo, fulia, parranda and tamborera) is perhaps the best documented musical form. Fundacion Bigott has also produced groups such Un Solo Pueblo, Huracán de Fuego and Grupo Madera. These more experimental fusion artists combine rumba, Latin jazz, joropo, salsa, Venezuelan traditional chants and other forms of Latin American music.

Caracas Capital City in Capital District, Venezuela

Caracas, officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and centre of the Greater Caracas Area. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 1,140 m above sea level, although there is some settlement above this range. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high (7,200 ft) mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 4,923,201.

Percussion instrument Type of musical instrument that produces a sound by being hit

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater ; struck, scraped or rubbed by hand; or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.

Parranda musical

Parranda, of Parranda de aguinaldo, is an Afro-Indigenous musical form played in various Caribbean countries including Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad, and the coastal area of the states Aragua and Carabobo in Venezuela. The Garifuna style of parranda is performed with acoustic guitars, drums, scrapers, shakers, and turtle shell percussion in coastal villages of Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Then there is also the genre commonly known as "Onda Nueva" (New Wave), which is a combination of joropo and jazz music, with influences from the Brazilian Bossa Nova. The genre was introduced by Aldemaro Romero with a special contribution by famed drummer and timpanist Frank Hernandez, nicknamed "El Pavo" (The Peacock) by employing a very peculiar drum beat. The term was coined by jazz analyst Jack Braunstein after having been shown a copy of Romero's earliest composition called "Araguita", (originally to be used as jingle material), which Braunstein described as "something of a new wave". Onda Nueva music was heralded as the Venezuelan Bossa Nova with a very particular seal.

Aldemaro Romero Venezuelan musician

Aldemaro Romero was a Venezuelan pianist, composer, arranger and orchestral conductor. He was born in Valencia, Carabobo State.


Venezuelan calypso music (including Calypso de El Callao), imported from Trinidad in the 1880s by immigrants arriving during a gold rush, has its own distinctive rhythms and lyrical style. Another imported genre is Cuban-American salsa, which has produced several domestic superstars, including Oscar D'Leon. Dominican merengue, Cuban and Colombian Latin pop acts such as Billo's Caracas Boys, the Porfi Jiménez Orchestra and Los Melódicos.

Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago during the early to mid-19th century and eventually spread to the rest of the Caribbean Antilles and Venezuela by the mid-20th century. Its rhythms can be traced back to West African Kaiso and the arrival of French planters and their slaves from the French Antilles in the 18th century.

During the 19th century Trinidadians and other Caribbean, islanders began migration to Venezuela, particularly to the city of El Callao to work in the gold mines. They brought the music of Calypso with them, which later became very popular in the city. The folk music is a mixture of Venezuelan and Caribbean genres and is sung in Spanish and/or Caribbean English. It is closely associated with the Carnival festival, a tradition also brought by the West Indian people.

Trinidad The larger of the two major islands which make up the nation of Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The island lies 11 km (6.8 mi) off the northeastern coast of Venezuela and sits on the continental shelf of South America. Though geographically part of the South American continent, from a socio-economic standpoint it is often referred to as the southernmost island in the Caribbean. With an area of 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi), it is also the fifth largest in the West Indies.

Aldemaro Romero directing the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dinner in Caracas Aldemaro Romero y OSMC.jpg
Aldemaro Romero directing the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas, at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dinner in Caracas

The galerón is a genre of Venezuelan typical song. It is related to the guajiro (Cuba), torbellino (Colombia), and trova (Puerto Rico). In general, it is accompanied by mandolin, cuatro, and guitar.

Pop and Rock

Los Amigos Invisibles Los Amigos Invisibles 2008 Austin.JPG
Los Amigos Invisibles
Desorden Publico D.P.jpg
Desorden Público

Pop and rock music are very popular too, and several bands have had considerable success over the years. Venezuelan pop musicians such as Ricardo Montaner, Kiara, Karina, Los Chamos, Urbanda, Uff, José Luis Rodríguez "El Puma", Franco DeVita, and Ilan Chester have gained popularity in other Latin American countries. On the other hand, same history for a lot of well-known bands like Devendra Banhart (Naturalismo), Aditus, Los Amigos Invisibles (Acid Jazz), Arkangel founded by Paul Gilmann and Freddy Marshall, Desorden Publico (Ska/Pop), King Chango (Ska/Latin American music), Culto oculto (Experimental/Rock), Caramelos de Cianuro (Pop/Rock), Mikel Erentxun (Pop/Rock), Candy 66, Tan Frío El Verano, La Vida Bohème and the now extinct but influential groups Sentimiento Muerto (Post-punk), Zapato 3 (Pop/Rock), and Dermis Tatú (Rock).

Patafunk "Playa" 2011 Patafunk (2011).jpg
Patafunk "Playa" 2011

Electronic Music

In the late 90s a very strong electronic music movement spread through the country. Several big multimedia festivals took place, such as "Caracas No Duerme," "AX," "Petaquire," and "Mare Nostrum." These events combined music with the video and performance art of Venezuelan artists such as Luis Poleo, Frank Wow, and Sony. The main bands/DJ's of this era are Ojo Fatuo, DJ Oddo and DJ Wyz.

From 2000 until present, a lot of Venezuelan artists have made a strong movement into different underground music styles. The most significant ones are: Arca (experimental/industrial) Masseratti 2lts (downtempo), La Vida Boheme (post-punk), Lmca (Electronic/Synthpop/post-punk/experimental), Viniloversus (indie rock), KP-9000 (trip hop), Cardopusher (breakcore), Nuuro (IDM), Patafunk (Tropical/funk), FamasLoop (trip hop/electronica), Todosantos (nu rave/indietronica), Jimmy Flamante (breakbeat), Las Americas (shoegazing), Dondi (drum and bass/downtempo), Retrovértigo (post-rock), Lis (instrumental rock), Tercer Cuarto (alternative metal), Panasuyo (neo-folklore), Pacheko (dubstep), Dame Pa' Matala (reggaeton/hip hop) and Los Javelin (surf rock/rockabilly) AC/Boy (Techno)

Classical music

Serenata Guayanesa Serenata Guayanesa, 2008.jpg
Serenata Guayanesa

Venezuela has also produced classical composers such as: Reynaldo Hahn, Teresa Carreño (who was also a world-renowned pianist), Antonio Lauro, Víctor Varela, Antonio Estevez, Evencio Castellanos, Modesta Bor, Prudencio Esaa, Moisés Moleiro, Sylvia Constantinidis, Gustavo Dudamel, Alfredo Rugeles and Eduardo Marturet (who are primarily international conductors), Federico Ruiz (who also works with other genres) and Vicente Emilio Sojo (known for his contributions to Venezuelan musicology and music education). Roberto Ruscitti followed in their footsteps.

Venezuela also houses a national network of public conservatories and music schools; there are also private music schools and institutions. Institutes of higher learning that specialize in music or have a music department include Universidad de las Artes, whose music department is the former Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales; Universidad Central de Venezuela, which gives diplomas in music performance and postgraduate degrees in musicology, including doctorates; Universidad Simón Bolívar, whose music department awards Master of Music degrees in several areas including composition, conducting, and music education; and Universidad de los Andes. Prominent composers and musicians who have taught, founded, or studied in these institutions include Alberto Grau, Isabel Aretz, María Guinand (who was one of the founders of the Master of Music program of Universidad Simón Bolívar), Diana Arismendi, Ricardo Teruel, Inocente Carreño, Adina Izarra, Marianela Arocha, Maurice Hasson, Pedro Eustache, David Ascanio, Josefina Benedetti, Alfredo del Monaco, Alfredo Rugeles, Humberto Bruni Lamanna, Abraham Abreu, Aldo Abreu, Aquiles Baez, Pablo Gil, Carlos Duarte and Sylvia Constantinidis.

Venezuela also has El Sistema, a publicly financed voluntary sector music education program founded by Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975. Prominent musicians of El Sistema are Gustavo Dudamel director of Los Angeles Philharmonic and doublebassist Edicson Ruiz who at age 17, became the youngest member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The country's symphony orchestras include the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, Maracaibo Symphony Orchestra, Municipal Symphony Orchestra, Mérida State Symphony Orchestra, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar.


Juana Maria de la Concepcion, commonly referred to as Conny Méndez, born 11 April 1898 in Caracas, was a composer, singer, writer, caricaturist and actress who produced more than 40 compositions, such as: Yo soy venezolana, Chucho y Ceferina, La Negrita Marisol, Venezuela Habla Cantando, and many others.

Rubén Cedeño, composer of folk and children's music of Venezuela, he appears in the Venezuelan music encyclopedia. [1] Singer, composer, investigator, painter and writer. His most recognized works are: The Aguinaldo Que Navidad part of the Venezuelan Christmas repertoire and interpreted by the mezzo-soprano Morella Muñoz, Cantata infantil Simón Bolívar, Misa de mi Tierra among others. It was National Prize of popular music of the INAVI with his valse Nora. The hymn Hail to the Statue of Liberty, received the congratulation of President Ronald Reagan.

Antonio Lauro composed a large body of classical guitar works, adapting traditional Venezuelan waltz and folk songs for the instrument.

Gustavo Matamoros is a renowned Venezuelan composer dedicated to the experimentation with sound and its relationship with the human mind and culture. He has worked mainly with contemporary techniques such as electroacoustics, mixed media, performance, installations, radiophony and multimedia spectacles. He resides in the US.

Notable musicians and groups

Other Venezuelan performers of note are Chino y Nacho, Graciela Naranjo, Cheo Hurtado, Hernán Gamboa, Gualberto Ibarreto, Enrique Hidalgo, Rudy Regalado, Jesus Sanoja, Otmaro Ruiz, Vytas Brenner, Yordano, Juan Carlos Salazar, Huáscar Barradas, Billo Frómeta, Cecilia Todd, Domingo Hindoyan, Soledad Bravo, Vidal Colmenares, María Teresa Chacín, Luis Gómez-Imbert, Luis Mariano Rivera, Maurice Hasson, Luis Laguna, Italo Pizzolante, Cecilia Todd, Lilia Vera, Armando Molero, Alí Primera, José Luis Rodríguez, Otmaro Ruiz, Henry Martínez, Pedro Eustache and Alberto Naranjo, as well as the groups Serenata Guayanesa, Dimensión Latina, Los Cuñaos, Los Cañoneros, Guaco, Mango, Madera, Percujazz Ensamble, Ensamble Gurrufio, Lloviznando Cantos, Los Chamos and El Trabuco Venezolano, among others.

See also

Related Research Articles

Alberto Naranjo [nah-rahn'-ho] is a musician. He was born Jorge Alberto Naranjo in Caracas, Venezuela. His mother, the singer Graciela Naranjo, was a radio, film and television pioneer in her homeland. Largely self-taught, Naranjo embarked on a similar musical course, becoming – like his mother – one of Venezuela's icons of contemporary popular music.

Gustavo Dudamel Venezuelan conductor and violinist

Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a Venezuelan conductor and violinist. He is the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

José Antonio Abreu Venezuelan musician

José Antonio Abreu Anselmi was a Venezuelan orchestra conductor, pianist, economist, educator, activist, and politician best known for his association with El Sistema. He was honored with the 2009 Latin Grammy Trustees Award, an honor given to people who have contributed to music by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Victoria Sánchez (musician) Venezuelan Conductor and Pianist

Victoria Sánchez is a Venezuelan conductor, actress, singer and pianist from El Sistema of Venezuela. She is Music Director and Conductor of ALMAS, Sinfónica de Jóvenes Latinoamericanas.

The Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar is a Venezuelan orchestra. Named after the Venezuelan national hero Simón Bolívar, it is the apex of the nation's system of youth orchestras, although by 2011, it was no longer officially a youth orchestra because the average age of the players had risen too high. It was replaced as the national youth orchestra by the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra.

Alma Llanera 1914 song composed by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez with lyrics by Rafael Bolívar Coronado

Alma Llanera is a Venezuelan song, a joropo, created by Venezuelan musicians Pedro Elías Gutiérrez (composer) and Rafael Bolívar Coronado (lyricist). It was originally part of a zarzuela whose premiere was on September 19, 1914, at the Teatro Caracas. Alma Llanera has since come to be considered as Venezuela's unofficial second national anthem. Its hundredth anniversary was marked by its being declared Bien de Interés Cultural.

Edward Pulgar is a Venezuelan violinist and conductor.

María Guinand Venezuelan choral conductor

Maria Guinand is an internationally renowned choral conductor.

Otmaro Ruíz Venezuelan musician

Otmaro Ruíz is a Venezuelan pianist, keyboardist, composer, arranger and educator. Son of Oscar Ruiz Beluche and Omaira Prado Hurtado, both medical doctors. He has a sister named Orlena, also a musician and educator.

<i>Imagen Latina</i> 1992 studio album by Alberto Naranjo

Imagen Latina is an album by Venezuelan musician Alberto Naranjo, originally released in 1992 and reedited thrice in 2002, 2008 and 2012. It is the seventh album of El Trabuco Venezolano musical project arranged and directed by Naranjo.

Benjamín Brea Venezuelan woodwind player, music teacher and arranger

Benjamín Brea was a Spanish-born Venezuelan musician, arranger and teacher, mostly associated with jazz, even though he had the advantage to play several music genres in various bands as a soloist as well as sideman and conductor.

El Sistema company

El Sistema is a publicly financed, voluntary sector, music-education program, founded in Venezuela in 1975 by Venezuelan educator, musician, and activist José Antonio Abreu. It later adopted the motto "Music for Social Change." El Sistema-inspired programs provide what the International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies describes as "free classical music education that promotes human opportunity and development for impoverished children." By 2015, according to official figures, El Sistema included more than 400 music centers and 700,000 young musicians. The original program in Venezuela involves four after-school hours of musical training and rehearsal each week, plus additional work on the weekends. Most El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States provide seven or more hours of instruction per week, as well as free use of an instrument.

Pablo Goldstein Argentine musician

Pablo Goldstein is an Argentine American musician and music therapist. He is a skilled player of a wide range of instruments, such as various types of flutes, accordion, piano, pipe organ, balalaika and acoustic guitar.

Tourism in Venezuela

Tourism in Venezuela has been developed considerably for decades, particularly because of its geographical position, the variety of landscapes, the richness of plant and wildlife, the artistic expressions and the privileged tropical climate of the country, which affords each region throughout the year. Since 2013 the country is having a very severe economical crisis affecting the tourism all over the country.

The Grupo Mango is a salsa music band based in Caracas, Venezuela, which was established in 1975. Since then, the group has been an emblematic part of the Venezuelan salsa scene.

Los Cuñaos[coo-nyah'-os] is an eight-part vocal group established in Caracas, Venezuela in 1974. Their repertoire is based on popular Venezuelan songs adapted to their own unique style of singing, performing a crossover of traditional and pop genres while contrasting their work with rich and warm harmonies.

Paul Desenne is a Venezuelan cellist and composer, whose composition style fuses elements from native Latin American and European music.

Sergio Rosales

Sergio Rosales is a Venezuelan conductor. He formed the El Sistema and is the music director of the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphonic Band.