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The Chacarera is a dance of Argentinean origin. It is a genre of folk music that, for many Argentines and Bolivians, serves as a rural counterpart to the cosmopolitan imagery of the Tango. A dance form played by contemporary musicians as soloists or in small ensembles of voice, guitar, violin and bombo drum, the Chacarera is often legitimized by a discourse espousing its origin in the remote province of Santiago del Estero. A closer look at the history of the Chacarera, however, reflects a situation shared by the official cultures of many nation-states: While undeniably present in contemporary rural Argentina, it is also the product of a romanticized construction of national identity projected by urban cultural institutions and disseminated through the mass media.

Chacarera music

While much of the Chacarera repertoire can be traced to the 1920s sheet music of Andres Chazarreta (Chazarreta 1947[1916]), the contemporary Chacarera style described in this article was standardized by the recordings of the 1950s folk group Los Hermanos Abalos (Abalos 1952). Today, this style is ubiquitous throughout Argentina, with important variants appearing in the provinces of Santiago del Estero and Salta.

Melody and harmony

Contemporary Chacareras generally utilize descending, minor-mode melodies within an octave range. They are not harmonically distinctive, relying predominantly on tonic and dominant accompaniment, and the occasional shift to the relative major. Some modern Chacarera musicians use major-seventh and other altered chords in their arrangements.


Contemporary Chacarera music is distinguished by its unique hemiola syncopation. Melody lines tend to begin in duple meter (6/8), and conclude in triple meter (3/4). Accompaniment parts including those on guitar, piano, bandoneon and drum employ a constant compound meter of 6/8 and 3/4, with accents on the second dotted quarter and the third quarter note, respectively (Abalos 1952). The downbeat is generally elided until cadences, a characteristic that is particularly salient in the case of the Chacarera Trunca style, which cadences on the third beat.


The Chacarera is a binary form. The A section (6 or 8 bars) doubles as an introduction and an interlude. The B section (8 bars) returns twice before concluding with a repetition. The entire form repeats two times.


Chacarera choreography

The Chacarera is a Contradance-influenced partner dance with similarities to many Ibero-American folk dances, including the Chilean (Zama)cueca and the Peruvian Marinera (Vega 1944). Male dancers circle about their female partners, seducing them with foot stomping (zapateo) and handkerchief waving during the A sections and coronating, or embracing, them in the final B section.

History of the Chacarera genre

According to the musicologist Carlos Vega (Vega 1944), the Chacarera belongs to a family of Ibero-American dances derived from baroque Contradance choreography. While this assertion may be accurate, Vega himself admits to the absence of documentation regarding the Chacarera before the advent of the recording industry. As the first mention of the Chacarera as a musical genre appears in the early twentieth century publications of the Santiaguenan band leader Andres Chazarreta, it may thus be more accurate to place this dances origin within the modern era.

Argentine musical nationalism

The Chacarera can be understood as an outgrowth of Argentine "nativism," a nationalist "back-to-the-roots" movement inspired by increasing Argentine urbanization, and the influence of romantic European philosophy (Delaney 2002). The musical impact of nativism was felt particularly strongly in the rural province of Santiago del Estero, a region identified as a wellspring of authentic Argentine culture (Rojas 1905). Both Argentine individuals and institutions were inspired by the nativist perspective. In 1911, the Santiaguenan band leader Andres Chazarreta established the nations first folk music ballet (Compania de bailes nativos) (Vega 1981). In 1917, meanwhile, the Universidad de Tucuman hired the pianist Manuel Gomez Carrillo to conduct ethnomusicological research in Santiago (Veniard 1999). Chazarreta and Carrillos publications are the first to mention the Chacarera as a musical genre. While both musicians claimed to be replicating folk traditions in their books and recordings, some scholars credit them with establishing the form and choreography of the dance (Chazarreta 2007).

The impact of the recording industry

The Chacarera recordings and compositions of Manuel Gomez Carrillo and Andres Chazarreta have provided a foundation for recording artists throughout the twentieth century, including Atahualpa Yupanqui, Los Hermanos Abalos, and more recent musical ensembles like the Duo Coplanacu and Peteco Carabajal. The distribution of these recordings via record and radio has led to the establishment of local, national, and international audiences for the genre. In Santiago del Estero, Mendoza, and Buenos Aires alike, musicians gather in Penas, or small folkloric clubs, to sing and dance their favorite Chacareras, often with specific regional flare. In neighboring nation-states including Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, and Chile, Chacarera recordings of artists like Yupanqui are well-known, and often incorporated into local repertoires.

The Chacarera as art music

The Chacarera has also provided inspiration for art music composers like Alberto Ginastera, who used the genres distinctive syncopations frequently in his work. Manuel Gomez Carrillo himself was a conservatory-trained pianist, and set a precedent for this kind of academic setting in his compositions for solo piano.

Some famous Chacareras

Anoranzas (Hermanos Abalos)

Chacarera de las Piedras (Yupanqui)

La Olvidada (Yupanqui)

La Vieja (Hermanos Abalos)


Abalos, Adolfo. 1952. Hermanos Abalos: primer album para piano. Buenos Aires: Editorial de los Hermanos Abalos.

Abecasis, Alberto. 2004. La Chacarera bien mensurada. Rio Quarto: Universidad Nacional de Rio Quarto.

Carlson, Julius Reder. 2005. La Olvidada: discurso y practica guitarristica como constructores de la Chacarera. M.A. thesis. Santiago de Chile: Universidad de Chile.

Chazarreta, Andres. 2007. La evolucion coreografica de la Chacarera. M.A. thesis. Buenos Aires: Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Chazarreta, Andres. 1947 (1916). Primer album musical santiagueno de piezas criollas coleccionadas por Andres A. Chazarreta. Buenos Aires: Talleres Graficos Garrot..

Chazarreta, Andres. 1941. Coreografia descriptiva de las danzas nativas. Buenos Aires: Natalio Hector Pirovano.

Delaney, Jean H. 2002. Imagining El Ser Argentino: Cultural Nationalism and Romantic Concepts of Nationhood in Early Twentieth-Century Argentina. Journal of Latin American Studies 34(3): 625-658.

Rojas, Ricardo. 1905. El pais de la selva. Buenos Aires: Editorial Guillermo Kraft.

Vega, Carlos. 1944. Panorama de la musica popular argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada.

Vega, Carlos. 1981. Apuntes para la historia del movimiento tradicionalista argentino. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada.

Veniard, Juan M. 1999. Estudios y documentos referentes a Manuel Gomez Carillo, Vol. 1. Buenos Aires: Academia de Ciencias y Artes de San Isidro.

See also

List of dances

Music of Argentina

Latin American folklore


External links

Argentine Folk (Spanish)

Folk of the North (Spanish)

List of chacareras

Structure of the dance

National Institute of Musicology "Carlos Vega"

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Chacarera

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