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Argentine Music

Of Old

Carlos Gardel’s face is ubiquitous in Buenos Aires. The city capitalizes on the tourist value of all things tango. Talk a walk down the peatonal on Florida on any day of the week and you will be bombarded by street performers—dancers and bandoneĂłn players. This accordion-like instrument is the signature instrument of tango sextets. Nowhere is the spirit of tango more alive than in San Telmo during its Sunday market. The prolific baritone singer Carlos Gardel is the most famous tango songwriter in all of RĂ­o de la Plata. His letras de tango (tango lyrics) are patriotic, 20th century hymns—Mi Buenos Aires Querido is a porteño favorite.  Other notable tango artists include the AnĂ­bal Troilo, Astor Piazzolla, Francisco Canaro, Juan D’Arienzo, Adriana Varela and Osvaldo Pugliese. Buenos Aires abounds with tanguerĂ­as paying homage to the music of these old greats.


Of Late

TanguerĂ­as were once territory of middle-aged couples and grandfathers. In recent years however, youthful rioplatense bands like Gotan Project, Bajo Fondo Tango Club, Tanghetto and San Telmo Tango Lounge have given traditional tango music a modern edge by mixing it with electrĂłnica beats, thus renewing Argentinean and Uruguayan’s interest in the music and dance. New classes have cropped up in RĂ­o de la Plata’s tanguerĂ­a’s dedicated solely to this new form of tango.   

Traditional Argentinean folkloric music such as Chacarera and Chamamé is also widely popular, both in the capital and in the provinces. Folk music even has its own national radio station, La Folklórica, 98.7. The Tucumán-born Mercedes Sosa is its most famous proponent, and Soledad Pastorutti, its most successful. Juana Molina draws in a younger crowd, playing an atmospheric blend of folk and electronica. For good folk concerts, check out the listings at Ateneo.


Argentine Rock

The single-handedly most famous Argentinean rock band has to be Soda Stereo, which formed in 1982 but remains the most popular Argentine band to this day. A mix between The Cure and INXS, Soda Stereo was to the 1980s in Latin America what Guns N’ Roses was to the 1980s in North America and Europe.

Rock history in Argentina really begins in the 1960s and 70s. However, as with almost all forms of cultural expression on the left, musicians were repressed during the dictatorship that spanned this period. Rock only made a comeback in the 1980s. During the war over the Falklands with the British, the government banned all music in English. Rock en español took over the air full-time.

Charly GarcĂ­a, frontman of the 1980s experimental-rock band Sui Generis, is considered the most famous Argentine rock musician. His music and lyrics drift between funk, emotional, and political. Other popular and important bands include the post-punk Redonditos de Ricota, which became popular in the late 70s, famous for wearing silly stage clothes. Also noteworthy were the 1980s rock Los Enanitos Verdes, solo-artist and former-member of Los Abuelos de La Nada, Andres Calamaro, and the punk-reggae outfit Sumo. In 2005, Calamaro made a comeback in Argentina with the release of the album El Regreso.

The 1980s was the decade of Soda Stereo, though Los Ratones Paranoicos certainly picked up a significant audience. The “Paranoid Rats” was a brat-pack responsible for the incorporation of the rolinga (influenced by the Rolling Stones) sound into Argentinean rock nacional. Los Fabulos Cadillacs formed in 1985, the grand-daddy of all ska-regge latin bands. The group took home a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock Group/Alternative Album.

Popular contemporary rock bands include the out-there Intoxicados, and the rolinga-esque Babasónicos. Judging by the turnout for the Rolling Stones’ 2006 concert in Argentina, the rolinga genre is to remain a mainstay of rock nacional in Argentina.


Live Music

Major venues for Argentinean and international rock bands are Buenos Aires’ Luna Park (Bouchard 465 and Corrientes) and La Trastienda (Balcarce 460 and Venezuela).

For travelers with more classical music tastes, world-class opera is featured at Teatro ColĂłn in Buenos Aires. Argentina also hosts the highest number of music festivals of any Latin American country, including CosquĂ­n Rock and the Buenos Aires electrĂłnica festival Creamfields.



Relatively new to Buenos Aires is a form of music called cumbia villera, influenced by Colombian cumbia dance music. Cumbia villera is popular in Buenos Aires’ outer limits. Its most famous group is Los Pibes Chorros.



The December 30, 2004 fire in the Once discoteca Cromagñon created a political furor in the city, with families of victims pressing for the impeachment of the city’s mayor upon discovery that the nightclub was two months overdue for a fire safety inspection. Three days of national mourning were called by President Kirchner, during which time all nightclubs were shut down. In March 2006 Mayor Ibarra was impeached.




Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Argentina: Getting To and Away, Services, Safety, Getting Around, Safety, Insurance, El Calafate Restaurants, Holidays and Fiestas, Traveling with Kids in Argentina and Fishing in Argentina.

07 Nov 2007

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