The music of El Salvador has a mixture of Mayan, African, Pipil, Lenca and Spanish influences. This music includes religious songs (mostly Roman Catholic) used to celebrate Christmas and other holidays, especially feast days of the saints. Satirical and rural lyrical themes are common. Popular styles in modern El Salvador include salsa, cumbia, hip hop and reggaeton.
Musical repertoire consists of Xuc, danza, pasillo, marcha and canciones. Marimba is a representative folk music instrument.
Popular music in El Salvador uses marimba tehpe'ch, flutes, drums, scrapers and gourds, as well more recently imported guitars and other instruments. Colombian mainly and other Caribbean, South American and Central American music has infiltrated the country, especially salsa and cumbia. For example, the very famous Favorited La Sonora Dinamita is a Colombian salsa group with one Salvadoran vocalist (Susana Velasquez). As one of the first Cumbia groups to reach international success, it is credited with helping to popularize the genre throughout Latin America, and the world.
Political chaos tore the country apart in the early 20th century, and music was often suppressed, especially those with strong native influences. In the 1940s, for example, it was decreed that a dance called "Xuc" was to be the "national dance" which was created and led by Paquito Palaviccini's and his "Orquesta Internacional Polio." That was one of the many orchestras he led during and in the mid 40's, his other hit was known throughout the country. "Carnaval En San Miguel" was commonly known to the whole country as the first Salvadoran band that went on to receive numerous awards in the years to come. Paquito Palaviccini, being known throughout Central and South America, made tours to Cuba, Buenos Aires, where Paquito Studied, and other Latin American countries. The inspiration came to Paquito to develop the "Xuc" and "El Baile del Torito" in a tour they had in Cuba. The 1960s saw an influx of American and British pop and rock, inspiring like-minded Salvadoran bands, while the following two decades were dominated by a wave of popular genres from across Latin America, mostly folk-based singer-songwriter genres like Chile and Nueva Canción. This new type of Salvadoran rock music was called "Guanarock" (portmanteau of Guanaco, an animal closely related to the Andean Llama and the Alpaca, a misgiven name by the Spanish for a person from El Salvador), which inspired bands such as Ayutush.
Dominican Merengue and Bachata also became very popular. In the last ten years, hip hop and reggaeton has influenced the majority of the Salvadoran youth, which has formed groups like Pescozada and Mecate. Also former Reggaeton producers like Wilfredo Rivas (Dj Emsy) and Jose Castaneda (Mambo King) who had worked with vary of famous Reggaeton and Hip hop artists such as: Dj Flex, Cheka, The Black Eyed Peas, Nicky Jam, El Torito and many others.
Salvadoran cumbia is related to but very distinct from Colombian cumbia, which is better known outside of El Salvador. Chanchona ensembles, led by a pair or a single violin, are popular, especially among the immigrant community in the Washington D.C. area.
El Salvador has prominent heavy metal, reggae, ska, dubstep, punk and electronic dance scenes due to its prolific local bands and venues; and the recent increase in local concerts by international bands that include San Salvador as a frequent destination in their international tours.
The main composer of the 19th century was José Escolástico Andrino (born in Guatemala). Wenceslao García was the first native composer. Important militar bands composers and arrangers include Jesús Alas, Alejandro Muñoz and Domingo Santos. María de Baratta was the main ethnomusiclogist and composer in the 20th century.
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