Martes de Música: Shaqsha

For today’s Martes de Música, we are covering a traditional dance of Áncash, the Shaqsha. But Mark, this is Martes de Música, not Martes de Baile, why are you talking about a dance on a post about music? Well, anonymous reader, that is because the Shaqsha is not just a mere dance, but also a way for creating percussion music.

You see, not any person can just go out and dance the shaqsha like it were breakdancing, the tango, or even salsa. In order to dance the shaqsha, you need to have the proper accessories. Below, you can take a look at a fairly standard attire for shaqsha dancers.

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The first item of note is the crown, which is believed to have been used to poke fun at the royal Spanish family who once controlled Perú. The shirt and kilt-like clothes are also intended as parodies, mimicking the clothing worn by the early Spanish Conquistadores. In the hands of some of the dancers, you will also note whips, which could be a reference to the farming lifestyles of the past.

However, the most important accessory to the shaqsha is what you see around the legs of each of the dancers in the photo above; the shaqapas. What you are seeing is more or less a ton of small dried seed pods tied together with string which is then fastened around the legs and occasionally the arms of each dancer. The shaqapas are integral to the shaqsha, because as the dancer moves, the seed pods and the seeds inside shake, creating a vibrant and entrancing sound, a sound which is generally interpreted as “shac shac”, hence the name of the dance. So you see, the Shaqsha is as much as a dance as it is a musical style, with the shaking of the seeds creating a beautiful sound.

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The dance itself is incredibly energetic, involving lots of hopping, jumping, screaming, and foot pounding. Honestly, it looks absolutely exhausting, and I can’t imagine how shaqsha dancers manage to keep up their energy in the intense sierra sun. The dance is generally performed during religious festivals here in Áncash, with the shaqsha groups being accompanied by a small group of musicians playing wooden flutes and drums. The photos above are from a religious festival celebrating the Virgin Mary held at my local school in Yuracoto, I.E. Estenio Torres Ramos.

Shaqsha is my absolute favorite dance here in Perú, and I’m hoping to eventually try it out with the help of some of my students in Yuracoto. With one year left in my service, I feel like I should be able to squeeze in a little time for a practice or two (or five). So to finish out this post, I leave you with a video of some Shaqsha performed in Yuracoto last week so you can fully appreciate this entrancing dance and enjoy the melodious sounds of the shaqapas.

 

Until next time,

MGB

 

 

 

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Martes de Música: Marisol

On today’s Martes de Música, we visit a powerhouse cumbia voice belonging to the one, the only, Marisol. It is quite simple to recognize a Marisol song, one because she screams her name, but also because she has a very distinctive, powerful voice, that you can’t help but take notice of.

Marisol is quite popular, and regularly travels across the country belting out cumbia, and the occasional Huayno classic. In fact, at the beginning of June she was hired by Caraz’s largest school, Micelino Sandoval Torres, to perform during their anniversary celebration.

On a side note, anniversaries are very important here in Perú. While in the States, we usually only seem to celebrate the “important” anniversary years such as the ones ending in 0s and 5s (25th, 30th, 50th, etc.), in Perú, anniversaries are celebrated EVERY year. And anniversary celebrations are not a 1 day affair, oh no. Anniversary celebrations, especially for schools, tend to consist of a week long schedule of activities including sports tournaments, food fairs, several parades, masses and religious ceremonies, nice lunches, and of course, a final, big, all-out party (if they can afford it). While anniversaries are extremely fun, they do tend to disrupt classes, which isn’t so fun. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to witness and participate in several anniversary events here in Perú, and I can imagine I will be witness to several more before my service comes to an end a year from now.

Given the fact that I am a big cumbia fan and also work on environmental issues in the school, I of course attended the concert, which happened to be the day before my birthday. She blew the roof off the place, and even wished me a happy birthday thanks to the sneaky intervention of my friends. Well, I guess she didn’t exactly wish me a happy birthday since she said, “Felíz Cumpleaños al gringo que tiene un corazón caracino” (Happy Birthday to the gringo with a Caraz heart). Either way, it goes without saying that Marisol and her orquesta gave me a good start to my birthday.

Today’s song is essentially a break-up song. In it, Marisol sings about how she misses her love, how even seeing a photo of them together makes her cry, how listening to their songs pushes her to drinking; she wants to move on, but her heart won’t let her forget. If you can’t tell, it is a tad melodramatic, but such is the story of many Cumbia songs here in Perú.

So without further ado, here is Marisol singing Gitana, for your listening pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed the music and be sure to look out for 2 more posts this week since I missed out on my Foto Friday from the last.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Reggaetón

So the musical genre Reggaetón is not a Peruvian innovation. In fact, when I asked my host uncle if there were any famous Peruvian Reggaetón songs, he simply said, “jaja no”. So if this blog is supposed to be about Perú, why am I talking about Reggaetón, you might ask?

Well, while Reggaetón did not come from Perú, it certainly came into Perú, and is currently one of the most popular musical genres among Peru’s jóvenes (young people). This past Friday, my local school held an event for Teacher Day, and I somehow got put in charge of the music (probably because I had my laptop). While I tried to get everyone interested in the english pop songs on my playlist or the few cumbia songs I had downloaded, within a short span of time I had about 15 different students come ask me to put on some Reggaetón.

So, what exactly is Reggaetón? Well, it is a genre that emerged from the fusion of Jamaican reggae music with pop music, first manifesting in Panamá and then hitting the mainstream and gaining popularity from further innovations in Puerto Rico. I would guess that most people are probably aware of the connection between Reggaetón and Puerto Rico, at least peripherally. Anyways, most Reggaetón music can be recognized by its killer beats, pulsing electronic sounds, and Spanish lyrics, which are generally rapped as opposed to being sung. Additionally, there is a sort of repetition to most Reggaetón songs, whether in beat or lyrics, which makes them great for dancing and quick to learn for those who want to sing along. If you were to hop into a nightclub anywhere in Perú, and possibly anywhere in Latin America, you would probably encounter several Reggaetón songs throughout the night.

So, to introduce you all to the world of Reggaetón, we have Ginza by J. Balvin which is the quintessential Reggaetón song of 2016. Seriously, absolutely ALL the jóvenes are listening to this song.

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Rock Peruano

This week, I am once again late because this past Tuesday I was away all day visiting a school in another district of my province. Considering this trend, I might have to eventually change the name of this series to Miércoles de Música.

While most of the music I’ve been promoting so far has been traditional music, influenced by the diverse culture of Perú, this week we are highlighting a different musical genre of which I am sure many of you are quite familiar: rock music.

Rock music is very popular in many parts of Perú, and in fact when I arrived to live with my first host family in Lima, they were enormous fans of many famous rock groups like the Rolling Stones or AC/DC. So, it is only natural that a few rock groups eventually emerged in Perú to develop Perú’s very own rock music heritage.

Today, per recommendation of my host uncle, I am highlighting the Peruvian rock group, Mar de Copas, which formed in Lima back in 1992. They have released a few albums throughout the years, but today I am highlighting one of their earlier songs, Mujer de Noche (Night Woman, or Woman of the Night), at my host-uncle’s request. It’s quite catchy, and reminds me of another rock song in English, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

So without further ado, Mujer de Noche by Mar de Copas.

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Huayno Ancashino

Once again, my Martes de Música comes a tad late, but internet isn’t always available, and so you do the best that you can.

This week we return to the world of Huayno, a type of Peruvian folk music from the Andes. The singer and song featured this week are fairly representative of Huaynos Ancashinos, or Huaynos from Áncash, the department where I work. While many younger people enjoy Cumbia and Reggaeton, most of the older population, especially in more rural areas, are fans of Huayno all the time. There are many radio stations that play puro huayno (only Huayno), and it is extremely common to hear Huayno on everyone’s radios as I walk around my community.

This style of music is also quite popular at town fiestas (parties), where everyone will dance Huayno along with the music. Dancing to Huaynos generally means casually stomping your feet while moving back and forth, never looking your dance partner in the eye, and then stomping more vigorously when the music gets more jovial, about 2/3 of the way through.

So for this week, enjoy a traditional Andean Huayno.

I must say, while at first I was not a fan of Huayno, the style quickly grew on me (and many other Volunteers).

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: No Te Vayas

This week’s Martes de Música, or rather Miércoles de Música since I’m a bit late, goes out to the Cumbia group, Grupo Ráfaga, which is actually from Argentina, and not Perú. The group found its start way back in 1994, and has been going quite strong, having produced over 14 different albums throughout the years.

However, despite having originated in another country, the group and their songs are quite popular here in Perú; you would be hard pressed to attend any cumbia concert here in Perú and NOT hear one of their popular songs, such as No Te Vayas or their recent hit, Una Cerveza (this will be shared for another time).

Today, I am spotlighting No Te Vayas (Don’t Go or Don’t Leave Me), again one of my favorites here in Perú and a staple of many “copy groups” or other Cumbia groups here in Perú. This song is essentially about love and heartbreak; a man telling his girlfriend not to leave him because she is “who fills him with passion, is his light, and his whole world”. Check out the lyrics here, and feel free to give them a good old Google translate.

Without further ado, No Te Vayas by Grupo Ráfaga!

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Until next time,

MGB

Martes de Música: Corazón Serrano

For today’s installment of Martes de Música, we return to the genre of Cumbia. This time, we will hear a song from one of Perú’s most popular Cumbia groups, Corazón Serrano, which means Sierra Heart or Heart of the Sierras.

The group originally formed in 1993 in Piura, a departamento (state) along the northern coast of Perú near the border with Ecuador. For the first 15 years, the group focused their concerts, image, and music around the northern coast of Perú. But around 2010, with the introduction of some new singers to the group, they became a “mainstream” hit in Perú, and quickly grew to widespread acclaim across the whole country.

Like most cumbia, the songs of Corazón Serrano are quite catchy, have a happy beat, and revolve around themes of love and alcohol. While most cumbia music sounds very similar, there is one easy way to recognize a Corazón Serrano song: a high pitched musical shoutout of the name, Corazón Serrano.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a Corazón Serrano concert in Huaráz with two other Peace Corps Volunteers, where we had a great time singing along to our favorites such as the song I present today. For our first introduction into Corazón Serrano, I present to you all one of their classics “¿Cómo Pude Enamorarme?” (How Could I Fall in Love?). The song is essentially about a woman struggling with heartbreak after her boyfriend left her for another woman.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

MGB