Music and dance

Culturally, ethnically and geographically, Ecuador is very much two countries - the Andean highlands with their centre in Quito and the Northern Pacific Lowlands behind Guayaquil. In spite of this, the music is relatively homogeneous and it is the Andean music that would be regarded as 'typically Ecuadorean'.

The principal highland rhythms are the Sanjuanito, Cachullapi, Albaza, Yumbo and Danzante, danced by
indígenas
and
mestizos
alike. These may be played by brass bands, guitar trios or groups of wind instruments, but it is the
rondador
, a small panpipe, that
provides the classic Ecuadorean sound, although of late the Peruvian
quena
has been making
heavy inroads via pan-Andean groups and has become a threat to the local instrument.

The coastal region has its own song form, the
Amorfino
, but the most genuinely 'national' song and dance genres, both of European origin, are the
Pasillo
(shared with Colombia) in waltz time and the
Pasacalle
, similar to the Spanish
Pasodoble
.

Music of the highland indigenous communities is, as elsewhere in the region, related to religious feasts and ceremonies and geared to wind instruments such as the
rondador
, the
pinkullo
and
pifano
flutes and the long
guarumo
horn with its mournful note. The guitar is also usually present and brass bands with well-worn instruments can be found in even the smallest villages.

There is one totally different cultural area, that of the black inhabitants of the Province of Esmeraldas and the highland valley of the Río Chota in Imbabura. The former is a southern extension of the Colombian Pacific coast negro culture, centred round the marimba, a huge wooden xylophone. The musical genres are also shared with black Colombians, including the
Bunde
,
Bambuco
,
Caderona
,
Torbellino
and
Currulao
dances and this music is some of the most African sounding in the whole of South America. The Chota Valley is an inverted oasis of desert in the Andes and here the black people dance the
Bomba
. It is also home to the unique
Bandas Mochas
, whose primitive instruments include leaves that are doubled over and blown through.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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