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Birds of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Music and Dance in Costa Rica


Mammals of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the southernmost in the string of ‘marimba culture’ countries. The guitar is also a popular instrument for accompanying folk dances, while the chirimía and quijongo, already encountered further north, have not yet totally died out in the Chorotega region of Guanacaste Province. This province is indeed the heartland of Costa Rican folklore and the Punto Guanacasteco, a heel-and-toe dance for couples, has been officially decreed to be the ‘typical national dance’, although it is not in fact traditional, but was composed at the turn of the last century by Leandro Cabalceta Brau during a brief sojourn in jail. There are other dances too, such as the botijuela, tamborito and cambute, but they are not traditional. They are performed on stage when outsiders need to be shown some native culture. Among the country’s most popular native performers are the duet Los Talolingas, authors of La Guaria Morada, regarded as the ‘second national anthem,’ and Lorenzo ‘Lencho’ Salazar, whose humorous songs in the vernacular style are considered quintessentially Tico.

Some of the Republic’s rapidly deculturizing indigenous groups have dances of their own, like the Danza de los Diablitos of the Borucas, the Danza del Sol and Danza de la Luna of the Chorotegas and the Danza de los Huesos of the Talamancas. A curious ocarina made of beeswax, the dru mugata is still played by the Guaymí people and is said to be the only truly pre-Columbian instrument still to be found. The drum and flute are traditional among various groups, but the guitar and accordion are moving in to replace them. As in the case of Nicaragua, the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, centred on Puerto Limón, is inhabited by black people who came originally from the English-speaking islands and whose music reflects this origin. The sinkit seems to be a strictly local rhythm, but the calypso is popular and the cuadrille, square dance and maypole dance are also found. There is also a kind of popular hymn called the saki. Brass, percussion and string instruments are played, as well as the accordion.

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