Monday, April 14, 2008

Music in South America, Part II

As a follow-up to the blog entry Krista wrote about her impressions of South American music, Karen will rebut.

Here's what I think: much like music in the States, I love some of it, I hate some of it, and I "appreciate" some of it, although it's not to my taste.

When we were in Peru, they played a cool multiple-stick flute thing; Krista bought one, and it's fun to try to play. Hers came with a little booklet so you'd know which notes to play, and our favorite is "Hey Hude" by the Beatles (no, that's not a typo; that's yet another amusing little pronunciation thing, since in Spanish the J is pronounced as an H).

We heard some native guaranĂ­ people singing and using rain sticks as instruments at the National park. They didn't sound very good, but they were sweet. [Sad fact: there are only about 900 GuaranĂ­ people left in the world now, as their society gets more and more engulfed and more and more of them choose to join the outside world.]

I despise anything that sounds like a mariachi band. I want to like it, but I don't. I appreciate the heritage, but it bugs the heck out of me. This is how I feel, by the way, about opera: I TRY to like it; I know I'm supposed to; I appreciate what it's doing; but I don't like it.

In Paraguay, we heard a cool trio, including a guy who could make a harp sound like celestial music, a train, a piano, a bass fiddle, well, anything. A lot of the music sounded mariachi-ish, but I appreciated their talent very much. And I really loved the train song.

Then there's the good stuff. Anything with a good drum beat, like the African-based candombe sounds, is thrilling and appealing to me.

For example, we went to a way cool concert at the absolutely gorgeous Solis Theater here in Montevideo (think the Paramount on steroids) and heard Chico Cesar, a Brazilian who sings of women's rights, the homeless, and others who have little voice in today's world. He is the youngest of seven children from a poor family in the sticks of Brazil, and he's never forgotten his roots. The only song I had ever (barely) heard was "Mama Africa!" which you can hear (or lots of his others) by going on youtube at

Now, having said all that about South American music, I haven't by any means left my favorites from the past: the Stones, CCR, Elton John, etc. But I have learned some appreciation for a whole 'nuther culture's rhythms and sounds.


Tim Archer said...

CNN showed the world's largest asado on the news this morning; apparently it was done in Montevideo yesterday. Something like 32 thousand pounds of meat. Made me want to fire up the grill.

Tell Tina Tamez that her sister Cassie was at church yesterday and says she's so jealous of all the stuff you guys are doing.

Have a great week!

Grace and peace,

Autumn said...

Yes... all the music culture there is great. BUT... have you heard to Stones with a techno beat at the gym yet? That was by far the most damaging music experience I had in South America. :)

Karen said...

Wow. Never heard a thing about the asado, even though I was down in the Old City for mass in the morning (I've become a Catholic; thought you should know), and I went to the open air market in the afternoon. Crazy. I'll tell Tina the message; she is a blast, and we are having such a good time with her here. And you have a great week, too, please! :)

lecroy said...

Third world countries with their coplete and utter disregard for international copyright laws are great places to pick up bootleg music. I bought a billion in Russia, but then I got a movie - dubbed into Russian, even though the guy said it wasn't.

Rolling Stones played on Mariachi - elevator music on the elevator to hell.