Nuestra Música y Nuestros Antepasados

By Maricela Lopez-Samayoa Music is one of the biggest contributors to culture, especially in our Latin American countries. Our music is there for us in our celebrations; weddings, birthdays, it’s also there for us at times of grief, times we have broken hearts. Music in our culture is a faithful companion in life, it never fails us. But where did it come from? How is the distinct sound of music from El Salvador defined? Who or what were the contributors? El Salvador is rich in a variety of music, but the influences are not very much known of. Family and friend gatherings are not complete without Cumbia, Rumba, Merengue and Marimba. If you listen to a Salvadoran band they have an amazing, and perfect mixture of these genres. It can all be connected to being “Mestizo”.

What exactly does being “Mestizo” mean? If you look for the word “Mestizo” in a dictionary it will specifically tell you that it is a person of mixed ancestry, specifically of European and Indigenous roots. When it comes to the music of El Salvador, let’s add to our mixture, African. Although they were one of the biggest contributors to our music, the African population of El Salvador is not very much spoken of or even seen. In the beginnings of the discovery of El Salvador by Europeans, approximately 10,000 slaves were brought to El Salvador. Eventually the African population did as the Native population did and married people of distinct backgrounds; their kids are also what we know as Mestizos. The different influences Salvadorans had in regards to culture helped develop the rich cultural elements in food, arts, and most of all in music we see today.

A great example of Salvadoran music is the Orquesta Internacional Polio, directed by the Salvadoran Francisco Palaviccini. Take a listen to the Orquesta Internacional Polio and you’ll hear exactly what I am talking about. References: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2033.htm http://www.bjmjr.net/afromestizo/el_salvador.htm Orquesta Internacional Polio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qi1kSdSPtY

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