Folk Music in Chile



What do you think you when you think of folk music? I guarantee most of you pictured bearded men with guitars, lamenting about lost love, whiskey, and their life struggles, much like the picture above.

As a huge fan of folk music, I would say this is a slightly accurate depiction. In America and many other Western countries, folk music is a working man’s music, growing out of the struggles of the common farmer; it was a way to rejuvenate themselves after a long day. In Chile, this is not the case. The upper and middle classes within Chile did not have a strong musical tradition, so they took the peasant tradition of folklore and developed it into folkoristic music. It became a place of artistic expression for bourgeoisie. The wealthy in Chile took this style and made it a way of expression for themselves. Instead of talking of the struggles of working long hard day, they romanticized farm life and summer days. The “folk” music of Chile is simply a more stylized version, a “souvenir” as the author determined.

This exploration of the cultural tradition of folk is something ethnomusicologists do. Ethnomusicology is a form of anthropology in which music and its impact on culture is studied. This study and history was discussed by Juan Pablo González, as he explored the work of Inti-Illimani, a long lasting musical group within Chile and their use of folk music and their goals within the genre.

Article mentioned:

“Inti-Illimani” and the Artistic Treatment of Folklore
Juan Pablo González
Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Autumn – Winter, 1989), pp. 267-286