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Yaraví: Song & Soul of a People - Culture And Arts Leymebamba - Peru

There are pains that little by little

Pass without being felt . . .


“We really need a guitar,” Meider Díaz says as we sit in the smoke-darkened interior patio of his home in Leymebamba. Horse tackle lies against one wall. Ducks preen in their cage. Don Meider wraps his red wool poncho closer around himself. With a chill-cracked voice, he begins to sing a yaraví. Its sorrowful melody warms this space.


Love, love that takes away life

Thief, thief that stole my soul . . .


In the old days, men conquered women’s hearts with a serenade. Yes, that is how he won his wife’s. If a lass broke his heart, the rejected beau would sing to her. Or he would croon one last good-bye, before seeking his destiny.


Now I leave for far-off lands

To a country where no-one knows me . . .


His teenaged daughter and niece sit on low stools with us, giggling behind their hands. I ask them, “If a young man came to serenade you, what would you think?” “Oh, that he’s cursi—old-fashioned,” they reply.

With their generation, the yaraví is dying. It is quaint, “not like the rock and reggaeton that is invading with globalization,” Meider explains. Few still sing the old songs. Some, like Meider, write new ones. He penned Campesino while recovering from a horse accident. His sister Nimia is the first woman composer. Every July there is a song festival.

As Meider sings one after another, the girls shyly join in. Perhaps, deep down, these songs aren’t so cursi. Perhaps they will be the next generation to sing the yaraví—and conquer their lovers’ hearts.

Culture and Arts, Music Info.

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