South American Folk Music

Started by aligreto, January 08, 2022, 04:17:29 AM

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Music of the Andes:

This compilation was released in 1994 and it features five different groups over seventeen tracks. There is a large amount of traditional tunes presented here that are also balanced with modern songs written in the style of the traditional tunes. We also hear five vocal tracks. It is a well balanced album in that regard.

The music is played by all on traditional instruments and all of the rhythms also feel very authentic. I think that I recall an electric bass being used on two tracks here but it was well balanced with the acoustic instruments and was not overpowering. This is a very appealing album that is very easy to listen to with some wonderfully atmospheric music and performances contained on it.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


The Rough Guide: The Music of the Andes

Here is another compilation and it was released in 1996. All contributing artists are credited on the album.

The album consists of seventeen tracks. There is a good mixture between traditional and modern, some very modern, representations; one or two sounding almost from the pop world. Many songs augment the traditional instruments by sporting an electric bass guitar, a piano, a violin and even a bandoneon and a saxophone.  This album has a different atmosphere to it when compared to the previous albums listed in this survey.
Songs with a vocal element on the album number 10; so they are very well represented here for those who like that.

There is some really terrific instrumental playing on this album. There are also some very exciting presentations on the album.

Here is a flavour of the album from YouTube videos [some not great quality] of some of the artists featured on the album playing some of the music also featured on the album:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Flute Music of the Andes: Spirit of the Incas

This is a 2 CD compilation. It was released in 2001. There are 40 tracks in total in the compilation, 20 on each CD. 21 of the tracks are traditional tunes.

Amazingly and unfortunately, there are no performing artist credits given at all so all performances are anonymous. This is a great pity because there are some very fine performances both individually and collectively here. The provenance of each composer [or if  traditional] is given, however.

The music is not exclusively played on flutes; pan pipes are also occasionally used as the lead melody instrument, along, of course, with the various stringed instruments. The music played in this set is really very fine with very fine performances and the music itself is quite varied, always interesting and mostly played in what sounds like a very authentic way on acoustic instruments. An electric bass guitar is sparingly used, thankfully, and that is on the modern songs. As is usual with this genre there are some haunting melodies and performances on offer.

There is a 52 minute YOUTUBE video available which shows this cover but it appears to be for a different mix of songs so I did not post the link to it.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Music Around The World: Andes

This is another compilation album. It was released in 1995. It has fifteen tracks on it with track 10 being a medley of 5 songs, so nineteen tracks in total. Seven of those tracks are Traditional tunes and twelve of them are written by a guy called Caillibotte.

There are, unfortunately, no performing artist credits.

The tunes by Caillibotte sound very authentically traditional in tone and presentation.
The purely traditional tunes are also wonderfully presented.
It can be difficult to distinguish the tunes credited to Caillibotte from those marked traditional.

All of the tunes presented on this wonderful album are basically simple melodies played and sung with a real earthiness and accompanied by primordial rhythms. The album gives a wonderful flavour of Andean folk music, both ancient and modern.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Rough Guide to the Music of the Andes: Bolivia:

The focus on this CD switches to the music from one particular country, i.e. Bolivia, in this case, obviously. I have been attracted to the nature of the purely traditional music from Bolivia from early on, noticing it from others in various compilations.

This compilation CD was released in 2005 and it comprises a juxtaposition of traditional and modern sounding and upbeat music making. All of the included performing artists are credited. All of the music is excellently played and sung throughout with great recorded sound. The modern music does sound very good indeed. Although steeped in traditional Andean music making, there is a very heavy Spanish influence coming to the fore in a lot of the more modern music on this CD. An intrinsic sense of rhythm is also always maintained in the modern music. This collection is heavily vocally oriented as opposed to presenting instrumental music. There are sixteen tracks on the CD and only three of them are solely instrumental.

If one is not too keen on pure traditional music but would still be interested in exploring the traditional based music of this country in a modern context then this album is certainly recommended.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Fiestas: Music of the High Andes: Peru

This is another album which focuses on the music of one country; this time it is Peru, obviously.

The album was released in 1972. Performance credits of a sort are given but not by track but rather in the well documented notes in the booklet.

There are twelve tracks on the album. Eight of them are purely instrumental tracks and four of them have a vocal element to them.

This album is definitely different in that it is a series of field recordings recorded in 1968 with a portable recorder. The recorded sound is excellent given the circumstances. This is truly authentic sounding music making. Even the stringed and wind instruments seem to possess a different "voice" of their own. The last four tracks are field recordings of the Fiestas on the streets. They are very atmospheric, particularly the protracted final track on the album and they give a real sense of the relevant occasions. 

Here is the YT link to the album:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


The Music of Peru:

This is another album which focuses on the music of one country; this time it is Peru again, obviously.
However, this time the music is performed by a single group called Ensemble Pachamama.

This album was released in 2004. Interestingly, the names of the band members are not credited anywhere in the CD documentation.
We will meet this band again later on in this survey as I have more of their albums in my collection.

There are fourteen tracks on the album. Eight of them are traditional songs and the other six are modern ones.
Credits are, however, given to the relevant composers of the six modern compositions.

Unusually most of the tracks on the album are purely instrumental. Twelve of them are purely instrumental tracks and only two of them are songs.

The music is played on traditional instruments. These guys can certainly play well, both individually and as an ensemble; the playing is very good indeed as is the recorded sound.

I really like this album.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Music of the Andes:

This is a 2 CD compilation set. It was released in 1999.
CD 1 has 12 songs performed by the group Wayna Taki.
CD 2 has 16 songs performed by two groups, Los Indios De Cuzco and Patoruzú y Su Conjunto.

On CD 1 there are no tracks marked traditional even though the first track on the disc is El Condor Pasa. I am assuming therefore, that the credit given against El Condor Pasa is for the additional music that finishes out the El Condor Pasa track.
All of the other tracks on CD 1 have credits against them so one has to assume that they are not traditional songs even though some of them do sound very authentic.
All tracks are played on traditional acoustic instruments.
Both the playing and the singing is good and sometimes it sounds rustic. This adds to the sense of authenticity and atmosphere on the CD.
Of the 12 songs on CD 1 seven of them have a vocal element and five of them are purely instrumental.

CD 2 is a mess and it is very confusing. There are sixteen tracks listed on the CD booklet but when one inserts the disc only fifteen tracks are shown. Also, the titles for the fifteen tracks displayed by the media player do not, in any way, correspond or come close in any way to the CD documentation.

The CD documentation credits the performance of the sixteen songs to two different ensembles namely Los Indios De Cuzco and Patoruzú Y Su Conjunto. However, the individual track listings on the documentation do not credit performances to an individual track.

I eventually figured out while listening to it, that it is an exact copy of this CD [listed earlier]: 

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Andes Manta:

This is the first album in this survey that is not a compilation of different performing groups. It is the first presentation by a single ensemble, Andes Manta. The group, on this CD, comprises three brothers, Wilson, Luis and Bolívar López along with Carlos Armas and Fernando Moya. All are from Ecuador.

This album was released in 1992. It features different styles of traditional music from different countries namely Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay. The music is played on traditional instruments. The sound is wonderfully folk sounding and the standard of playing is excellent throughout. They have a very full ensemble sound. 

I particularly like the graphic art of the image on the cover.

There are twelve tracks on the album. All of the tracks with the exception of the final one are solely instrumental.

These guys play very well and present those infectious South American rhythms with great vitality.

Here is the full album:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Ensemble ANEA: Noëls des Andes et d'ailleurs

Liturgical music apparently reached Peru in the 16th century soon after the Spanish conquest. It was a case, I suppose, of we take your gold and give you our God in return.
This catholic liturgical music was ultimately integrated into the folk music of the subjugated people over time.

Ensemble ANEA comprises three members. Jean-Michel Cayre is a French folk musician and the founder of Ensemble ANEA. On this album he plays the following instruments: kenas, kenachos, charangos, guitar, bombo, cascabeles and grelots. Enrique Capuano is an Argentinian guitar player who focuses on traditional music. Malory Jubault studied flute, piano and recorder and ultimately discovered South American folk music and took up various traditional wind instruments from the region.

This CD was released in 2002.

There are twenty tracks on the album. It is a combination of both traditional tunes and modern compositions. The album has a much more modern than traditional feel to it. However, it must be said that it is quite a polished and modern production. Even the few Christmas lollipops featured on the album are quite well arranged and played. The sound quality is very good on the album. All compositional credits are given. 

The quality of the individual playing is very good indeed. Where this album really succeeds, in my opinion, is in the quality of the ensemble playing. The individual members blend very well together creating wonderful harmonies and counterpoint. My one musical reservation is the prominence given to the acoustic bass guitar on a number of tracks. I feel that it is overdone and unnecessary. Natural sounding timpani would have been more appropriate, particularly when Cayre is something of a timpanist. This is a very minor quibble, however.

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Caliche: Music of the Andes

The ensemble Caliche comprises four members. They are three Chileans, Fredy Aburto, a founder member, Carlos Munoz Villalobos another founder member, Eduardo González and finally a Peruvian Alvaro Grana.

The album consists of twelve songs only one of which is traditional. Of the other eleven songs seven were composed by members of Caliche; the other four songs are written by different modern composers. All compositions are credited in the accompanying booklet.

The CD was released in 1991 and I find the sound to be good on the CD.

All of the music is played well by the members on traditional acoustic instruments and all of the sounds and rhythms feel very authentic and are presented well by them. The presentation is simple and coherent. The album, therefore, has quite a traditional feel to it.

Eight of the tracks on the album are solely instrumental with four having a vocal element. The singing is good, nothing is forced and it sounds smooth and also well harmonised.

This is a very relaxed, relaxing and enjoyable album and I like the sound and feel of it.

The full album is available here:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Ch'uwa Yacu: Clear Water

The composition of the ensemble Ch'uwa Yacu is unclear to me because on the back cover it lists four members; Faustino Cutipa [Peru], Javier Zapata [Bolivia], Angel Marin [Ecuador] and Cesar Duenas [Peru]. However, the insert lists, along with Cutipa, Marin and Zapata the names of Oscar Eshevarria and Paco Moreno with no mention of Cesar Duenas. There is a listing on Discogs for Ch'uwa Yacu and it gives no names but, interestingly, has a photograph showing five guys.

This album was released in 1994.

There are ten tracks on the album. All of the tracks are solely instrumental with no vocal contributions whatsoever.

This CD contains some very soulful, tranquil music and also some engaging dance music, though not overly robust or vigorous. The pipe playing is very good but I find the playing of the stringed instruments to be particularly attractive and appealing myself. All of the playing is very good though throughout.

No credits for the songs are given in the scanty literature in the CD.

Here is a flavour of what the title track sound is like played by another ensemble with basically a similar line up to Ch'uwa Yacu:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Cirilo and Ayni Group: Puriskayta

Cirilo is a Bolivian musician. On this CD he and Ayni Group play traditional music and songs from Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. He is accompanied on the album by Ayni group who are, apparently, a traditional Bolivian ensemble. [see photo No. 3 on Discogs]

There is no release date information in the enclosed booklet. One source I came across stated that the album was released in 1996 but I cannot verify this as a fact.

There are fourteen tracks on the album. This is a vocal heavy album with all but one of the tracks having a vocal element. This obviously leaves only one fully instrumental track on the album.

There is a sixteen page booklet enclosed and it is filled with full credits and lyrics.

The music is played on traditional instruments and they are well played by everyone. It is an upbeat and lively sound. The recording is made in good sound and it is also well balanced in terms of instrument placement in the sound stage. The high treble sound of the various smaller stringed instruments is well presented here.

The vocal elements are well sung and harmonised. They are straightforward songs sung well, again in a good sound.

As a general comment, and as mentioned already, this is a vocal heavy album. I would have preferred more of a balance towards the instrumental, perhaps with instrumental dances. The one non vocal track on the album was terrific and I would have liked to hear more like it. This is not the type of album for those seeking haunting panpipe sounds. However, these guys do what they do well and it is an enjoyable album for that. 

Unfortunately I cannot find a YT video of this album but here is a taste of what to expect:

It is great to see the kids enjoying themselves through the universal language of music .
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Ecuador Manta: Caminando en la Imaginacion

The ensemble Ecuador Manta comprises four Ecuadorian folk musicians who came from the Indian village of Otavalo. They are Alfonso Burga, Bolivar Burga, Enrique Burga and Juan B. Ruiz.

The album was released in 1998.

The only credits listed in the booklet are for the various instruments that each band member plays, arranging and mixing and sound engineering. There are no credits for any of the song titles listed so I am assuming that these are traditional Andean tunes arranged by Ecuador Manta but that is only an assumption. The tunes, in essence, do sound traditional.

There are ten tracks on the album. Six of them have a vocal element and, obviously, four tracks are purely instrumental.

The ensemble plays a wide variety of traditional instruments. However, from the opening bar, one is aware of the presence of an electric bass. There is also a violin, piano and even a synthesiser thrown into the lineup for good measure.

The guys play the instruments very well indeed. The bass player is a good musician but, for me, the electric bass is far too prominent in the mix and very much dominates it. The quality of the vocals is also very good; the guys can sing and have strong and pleasant voices. It should also be said that the recorded sound is very good.

The album, for me, does not have a true authentic Andean feel to it. There is great rhythmic integrity in the performances. That sounds quite correct. However, the infusion of very modern arrangements makes this music making far too modern for it to sound authentically traditional. Perhaps the upbeat tempi are an attempt to modernise the music or to bring it to a wider audience. However, the album lacks soul, for me. It borders on Pop Music sometimes, to my ear. I must admit that it is not to my liking and I will most likely cull it from my collection. This is not to say that it is a bad album. It certainly is not and I am sure that many would really like it. It would possibly make a good entry point into this genre of music for those who do not know it and want to explore it.

I cannot find a YT video of this album but here are two short videos featuring Ecuador Manta and they will give you a fair idea of what the band is about.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Projection Latine: Evasion [Vol. 2]

Projection Latine comprises five Andean musicians who were based in Paris. The ensemble is also augmented by five other musicians throughout the recording.

This album was released in 1994.

Full credits are given to all of the musicians appearing on the album listing the instruments which each musician plays. There are three listed credits for compositions on it. The balance of the songs appear to be arrangements of traditional songs by Projection Latine. However, I cannot be certain that the balance of the songs are actually traditional. They sound as though they are. The reason for my uncertainty is that where a song is not credited to a specific composer that song's country of origin is listed and that, in turn, is followed by D.R.A. I do not know what this means as I have not come across it before.

There are eleven tracks on this album and all of them are purely instrumental.

The usual authentic musical instruments are employed along with clarinet, piano, harp, electric bass, synthesiser, drum machine, timbales and congas. The music is well played by all of the musicians and the arrangements are very modern sounding. The recorded sound is excellent and the mixing is very well balanced.

Although the arrangements and mixing is quite polished it is a far too smooth sound for me. There is no sense of raw mountain music here or a sense of authenticity. It is far too polished for my taste. I would put it into the category of Easy Listening. This is another one that will be culled from my collection.

I cannot find a YouTube video for this entire album. However, here is a videos from the album which will give you a sense of their sound:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Inkuyo: Land Of The Incas

Inkuyo comprises four musicians namely Gonzalo Vargas [Bolivia], Pamela Darington [USA], Jorge Tapia [Chile] Omar Sepulveda [Chile]. "Inkuyo is the name of a remote mountain village high in the heart of the Andes" according to the notes in the accompanying booklet.

The album was released in 1990.

Credits are given in full for song compositions where they are not traditional. No credits are given for the instruments that each individual musician plays although a full list of the range of instruments played is given in the booklet.

There are nineteen tracks on the album. Of those nineteen tracks all of them are purely solo instrumental performances. Also, of the nineteen tracks featured six of them are traditional tunes. Eight of those non-traditional songs are composed by individual members of the band. All songs, however, are composed and arranged in the authentic tradition of the spirit of the music.

All instruments played are traditional. There is a very good mix between the sound of the string, wind and percussion instruments. The music is well played and they present the inherent rhythms of the music very well. The album is also very well recorded.

This is, apparently, Inkuyo's debut album. With this album we are returning to a more traditional and authentic sounding music making when compared with other recent albums featured here. I very much like their approach. They preserve and present the atmosphere and the spirit of the music very well.

Here is the YT link for the whole album:

And here are two short videos of them in concert from around that time:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Eddy Navia: The Call

Eddy Navia is described on the back of the CD cover as "one of Bolivia's most celebrated composers". Navia is also known as a virtuoso charango player.

This album was released in 1999. All of the music on the album is composed by Navia. Navia is accompanied by a multitude of various musicians too numerous to list here. However, all musicians, and the instruments which they play are fully credited on the album.

There are twelve tracks on the album. Essentially this is an album of instrumental tracks with eleven of the tracks being simply instrumental and the other one having a vocalise element.

The instruments used are very varied and encompass traditional as well as modern orchestral instruments, electric guitar and bass, drums and keyboards. The standard of musicianship is very high throughout. The recording is also excellent and it is well balanced.

The music is wonderfully relaxing and engaging. However, I would be more comfortable putting it into a general World Music category rather than a specific South American Folk Music category. I like the modern twist which Navia brings to his music and music making. He is basically true to his Bolivian musical folk roots but he has expanded his horizons with his approach although, sometimes, I believe that he goes a bit too far for my liking with his fusion.

Here is a YouTube link to the title track on the album:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Pachamama: Earth Mother

There is not much information available on the group Pachamama. On this CD the core musicians listed in the limited accompanying documentation are E. Villarroel and F. Ramos who are both multi instrumentalists and vocalists. They are accompanied by Peter "Ujama" on African congas on all tracks and C. Furet [bongos, backing vocals, Andean flute] and Ben Williamson [Synth and Baby Bass].

The album was released in 1996.

The documentation states that "Pachamama present Earth Mother, their album of traditional folk songs arranged by the band, mixed with original works by contemporary Latin American composers." Full credit for composition and/or arrangement is provided in the documentation as are the musicians and the instruments which they play.

There are 12 tracks on the album. Seven songs have a vocal element and five are purely instrumental so there is a good balance in that regard.

The instrumentation, as stated above, is a mix between traditional and modern instruments. This balance works well with the exception that the electric bass can, at times, be too prominent in the mix for my taste.

The music itself is entertaining and it is something of a popular hits of South American folk music, but it is a decent album. They are true to the inherent rhythms of the music. There is a terrific version of Condor Pasa on the album which uses the wonderful sound of a set of "bass" pan pipes to great atmospheric effect.

The music is well played by the various musicians. The vocals are also good and are uncomplicated with adequate harmonies. The music is also well recorded. 

Unfortunately I could find no YouTube video for this album nor could I find it on Spotify. 

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.


Quimantu: Pilgrimage to the Andes

There are two works on this album:

Miner's Mass - A People's Prayer
Andean Christmas

From the liner notes: "Quimantu take their name from the language of the Araucanians, the Mapuche of Chile - "the people of the land", the indigenous people who live in the south, the only race not conquered by either the Spanish or the Incas before them."

The album was recorded in 1998. The recorded sound is of a high quality. Both musical instruments and the human voice are very well captured on the recording.

The musicians credited are Marco Valencia, Ivan Bustamente, Rachel Pantin, Cameron McBride, Maurice Venegas-Astorga and Laura Venegas-Rojas.

The Miner's Mass is a Mass for the coal miners of Chile. It has, as a base, a Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnes dei along with two other movements. However, it is not a regular Mass as we know it. It is a Mass basically performed in the South American folk idiom using largely South American folk instruments. It uses "real words contained in real music played with real instruments to the Catholic mass". It is well sung basically by a single voice, that of Mauricio Venegras-Astorga, with harmonies occasionally offered. My one issue that I take with this presentation is that an electric bass is extensively used. With that, other than a violin, all other instruments used in this recording are traditional.

The Miner's Mass is well played and sung and the recorded sound is very good.

The second part, Andean Christmas, comprises two traditional South American tunes along with three songs written by M. Venegas-Astorga written in the traditional South American folk music idiom. Once again, Mauricio Venegras-Astorga takes the lead vocal role with the exception of Pastorcito de Belen which is very capably sung by a nine year old girl. It is an exciting and celebratory work that works very well.

Both works make for enjoyable listening and are very well presented here.

Here is the YouTube link:

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.