Argentina’s greatest musical pride is the tango, a passionate music and accompanying form of dance that arose along the border between Argentina and Uruguay in the late 19th century but really took root in the seedier bars in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Tango music is a fusion of many influences, such as Spanish contradanse, Cuban Habanera (with its African rhythmic influences), the Eastern European polka, milonga music of rural gauchos (cowboys) and folk music from Italy. From the 1930s to the 1950s Argentine and Uruguayan composers and vocalists wrote poetic tangos that escalated the music to a form of high art, and leaders of big tango orchestras brought the artform to the masses.
Tango continues to resonate in Argentina, though Argentina music offers much more. For example, Argentine boasts myriad styles of regional folk music, each offering its own mix of indigenous and Spanish influences, especially in the northern Argentine Andes. Spanish songwriters such as Mercedes Sosa were influential in developing Argentina’s version of nueva canción, a brave version of political folk. Argentina’s northeastern region, home to many immigrants from Germany, Austria and Poland, boasts a unique local genre of music known as Chamamé, a mixture of Spanish melodies with German and Eastern European polkas and mazurkas. Argentina’s rock and ska communities, both embodied by the internationally successful Los Fabulosos Cadillacs are among the most inventive and respected in all of Latin America.