Chile’s traditional music is a mix of Andean melodies, Spanish tones and the rhythms and inflections of Africans the Spanish conquistadors brought with them as slaves. All of these influences merged with the Latin American troubadour tradition to produce the “tonada,” a poetic, initially rural form of musical storytelling, that moved into Chilean cities in the mid-1900s. In the ’60s and early ’70s, Chilean songwriters like Victor Jara and Violeta Parra used the tonada as a foundation of the “nueva canción,” explicitly political music that blended Chilean folk with progressive politics (similar to the way Bob Dylan and Joan Baez led a political folk revival at the time in the U.S.). Today Chilean music is international and multifaceted, with jazz, rock, pop, thrash, hip hop and all other styles having their proponents. Still, there’s something great about the traditional tonada, especially when it consists of a guy in a cowboy hat singing about dogs.
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