Paraguayan traditional music
According to most historians, missionaries,
travelers, etc… the Guaraníes had a natural character
and great talent for art and music. They learned to play the musical
instruments with great facility which was introduced in the Missions
by the missionaries, which some of them were extraordinary teachers.
This highlighted and facilitated to play the instruments, to read
the notes and to listen to the music.
In the actual Paraguayan music today, however, Indian influences are
not much shown. Juan Max Boettner says: “en nuestra música
no hay influencia indígena, ni en la melodía, ni en
la rítmica, ni por el carácter defectivo de las escalas
nativas. No hay supervivencia de ningún músico nativo,
ni idiófonos ni membranófonos. Nuestros conjuntos populares
no conocen el tambor, ni la percusión ni las flautas indígenas.
No cultivamos ni un solo baile nativo…Hay, sí, una evidente
influencia nativa en la letra de los cantos.” In English translation
it translates, “In our music there is no Indian influence, not
in the melody nor in the rhythm. There is no surviving Indian instrument,
not in the drums or flute. We didn’t cultivate even one native
dance, but yes, there is one evident influence in a language (referring
to guaraní). The instruments most used in the popular music
now are actually influenced by the Spanish: guitars, harps, violins,
During José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia’s dictatorship,
the popular music was a great success because he organized military
bands nationwide; he facilitated musical instrument import (clarinet,
trumpet, violin, triangles, etc…), and the State shop sold strings
for harps and guitars in a low price.
One of the most known Paraguayan music and the oldest is the polka
parguaya. The name polka was born in Bohemia in 1830 and came to Río
de la Plata in 1845. It is also known as galopa, a dance with rapid
rhythm. Juan Max Boettner created the Paraguayan polka as a characteristic
dance and rhythm, y created its own identity.
Paraguayan polka has a rhythm and its own characters. It is fast,
vibrant exciting and sometimes, polyrhythmic. Usually the polka with
rapid rhythm is not sung with.
Polca Canción is also called purahéi, techaga’ú,
and consists of a slow rhythm to be sung with. The purahéi
jahe’ó is a sad song. Musicians also included the sound
they listened within their environment and nature in their songs.
(Ex: Tren lechero be Félix Pérez Cardozo)
Galopa (polka galopa) is a type of polka with an upbeat rhythm. It’s
purpose was not to be sung. The galopa is danzed with a pair interlaced,
like the polka itself.
The Guarania was commenced by José Asunción Flores created
in the early 20th century, made a huge and profound impact and was
popular. The Guaranía is a song with a slow rhythm and melancholic.
The Guaranía has its own dance to be danced.
Harps were very important musical
instruments to Paraguay and still retain its place. From times immemorial
the Guaraní have been using simple wind and percussion instruments,
especially flutes made of wood, whistles, rattles, and bells. The
guitar and the harp, which were brought to Paraguay by the early Spanish
settlers, are the basic instruments of contemporary Paraguayan music.