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23 de junio de 2014

Argentine Folk Musical Instruments: The Pre-Hispanic Legacy

Erke, charango, bombo and quena are some of the typical musical instruments in Argentina. As it is also de case of other countries around the world, ours has a rich history around these musical instruments. Some of them are also present in other South American countries, especially those in the Andean plateau. Santiago del Estero is, for example, considered the capital of the bombo.  

Some years ago, Argentime covered the festival of Casabindo, in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption, patron saint of that small town located 270 km away to the northeast from the city of Jujuy. Before the bullfighting, which is the most picturesque activity of the day, pilgrims process behind the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption while they pray like Christians and dance like natives.It is there that I first heard an erke: that three- or five-meter-long cane whose sound, when you blow it, comes out from its end, which can be a cow horn or brass.

Our autochthonous musical instruments, such as the erke, and like the festival in Casabindo, a synthesis of the pre-Hispanic tradition and the elements that were incorporated after the colonization.The erke was born in the high Andean plateau: Peru, the south of Bolivia, the north of Chile and the Argentine northeast. At present, it is used in religious celebrations in the region. 

The bombo legüero, also called bombo criollo, is a drum that came to our lands together with the Spanish conquerors. There was another similar instrument known as bombo nativo, which was used in religious festivities and rituals. After the European military drums came to Argentina, this instrument started changing. Hoops made of wood, thongs and rings gave the instrument the appearance it has today.



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