Traditional Venezuelan music falls into three general categories:
— “indigenous” music, with little Spanish influence.
— “Hispano-Venezuelan,” which mixes Spanish music with local forms. Much of this music, called “música llanera” (music of the plains), tells stories of traditional Venezuela country life. Have you ever danced the joropo? Assuming so, you’ve probably danced to musica llanera.
— “Afro-Venezuelan,” generally referred to “musica criolla” (Creole music), mainly along the coast, which blends Spanish influence with African drumming. Venezuelan Creole music plays less of a role in African religious rituals than Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music does in those countries. Instead, Afro-Venezuelan music has become an important part of the rituals of Venezuela’s Catholic church, Venezuela is only a hop, skip and brief boat jump from the Caribbean’s Trinidad and Tobago, which explains the proliferation of Venezuelan steel pan and calpyso.
As a nation Venezuela values its traditional music so completely that its school system offers music education to most, if not all, of its youth. (Learn about “El Sistema” and efforts to bring it to the United States.)