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Music in Nicaragua

Music is a key part of life in Nicaragua, you are likely to notice the minute you step on the street. Tunes flow from homes, cars and restaurants. Music in Nicaragua is the background to traditional festivals, performances and family gatherings. Music tells the Nicaraguan story from their indigenous origins to colonialism to the birth of a developing nation— a developing nation with an exceptionally bumping nightlife. Music is now influenced equally by indigenous tradition as well as present-day hip hop.


The Marimba and El Güegüense

Traditionally, Nicaragua offers a mix of indigenous and European sounds. Most notably is the contribution of the marimba, a unique xylophone-type instrument made of carved hardwood slabs set over metal or bamboo tubes. To play, the instrument is set on the performers knees and struck with mallets to create different sounds from each key. The marimba is most often accompanied by the guitar, fiddle and guitarilla


From the Carribean

More modern and noticeably more sensual, Nicaragua shares Soca, Reggaetone and Reggae with its Caribbean neighbors. Soca, from Trinidad and Tobago, is a calypso and procession-based beat, so popular it now even has sub-groups, (chutney soca and ragga soca). Panama's regatone can be heard all over Nicaragua and unquestionably provides a soundtrack for lively city nightlife in Managua and other parts of the country. The beat is distinctly Latino, with hip-hop influences from the States. It carries a repetitive tone and demands dancing, unlike Jamaican-based reggae, a more laid back tune singing of peace, protest, love, sexuality, poverty and injustice.



For the whole month of May, the sultry southeastern seaport of Bluefields hosts the Palo de Mayo Festival, also known as ¡Mayo Ya!, providing one of Nicaragua's most distinct musical contributions. This Afro-Caribbean music and dance performance is lively and seductive, celebrating culture, telling stories of sensuality and creating a beat unique to this Caribbean coast town. Resounding through Bluefields, Palo de Mayo music accompanies parades, costumes, feasting and dancing.



By Margaret Rode
A self-professed city girl, sassy staff writer Margaret Rode hails from Chicago where she received Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Spanish...
13 Nov 2008

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