• Learn More About South American Folk Music
Grade 6, Log On
South America is a large continent, with many countries. To learn more about the folk music of this vast area, start with what you already know. "Chíu, chíu, chíu" comes from Uruguay, one of the smaller South American countries. Find Uruguay on a map and follow the coast line down and around to see how many countries you find. Then look in the center of South America and find the countries that have no coast line. Make a list of all South American countries. As you learn about South American folk music, make notes with interesting information about music in different countries.
The folk music of South America combines musical elements and styles from people who were brought together during hundreds of years of exploration and development. Spanish and Portuguese settlers, enslaved people and workers brought from Africa and Asia, as well as natives all brought something special from their own culture. As people from different cultures married and had children, new customs and new music developed.
Music making in South America has always been a part of festivals, religious celebrations, and the carnival season, and this tradition continues today in most countries. Spanish is spoken in most South American countries, so the songs of those countries are mostly in Spanish. Brazil is the exception. The language of Brazil, the largest country in South America, is Portuguese. In some countries native languages are also spoken, and folk songs are sung in native languages as well.
Instruments used in South America include many percussion instruments and drums. Guitars are important in many countries, reflecting the Spanish influence. Native people in the Andes mountain regions have played panpipes for centuries.
The best way to learn about any kind of music is to listen to it. Try to find a way to listen to some music from any South American country. Then:
- Compare what you hear in the music to the other music you know, including "Chíu, chíu, chíu."
- Make a list of instruments you can identify.
- Describe differences and similarities in the musical elements.
- Move or dance with the music.
- Use percussion instruments to play along.
- Listen for repetition of sections and describe the form.