If you really listen to the sounds from El Salvador, the first thing you’ll probably hear is the different instruments used. Depending on the style, who’s playing it, the occasion, and which part of the country, you may hear xylophones, guitars, trumpets, pianos (my favorite!), flutes, as well as different kinds of percussion instruments: gourds, scrapers, various drums, and tubular bells (my other favorite!). In El Salvador, instruments carry a meaning, other than tone in music. Trumpets signify a national pride. Xylophones are the most important folk instrument. The tubular bells stem from their devout Christian faith.
One of the main styles that is almost considered the national style of music is called Xuc (I believe it’s pronounced “sook”). The name of it comes from the sound of a Salvadoran wind instrument called sacabuche, stemming from the sound that it makes. The music actually emerged out of the department of Cuscatlán in 1942, but the dance that accompanies it now wasn’t choreographed until 16 years later.
Other regional styles of music from Latin America and the Caribbean are also popular forms found in El Salvador as well. Cumbia, salsa, merengue, and bachata are also commonly performed and listened to, and it has influenced Salvadoran music. Hip-hop, reggaeton, heavy metal, reggae, punk, ska, dance music/electronic music has also found its way into people’s homes as well.
It was a little harder to find information on current Salvadoran musicians. But with my awesome research skills, I found a few bands/groups that I like. Salvadorans like one of my favorite genres: ska (I always define it as a cross between reggae and punk, more or less. And it definitely has to have a horn line.) One band that I found is called Adhesivo. They’re pretty upbeat but mixes the styles up a little (fast vs. slow, changes in the texture of the music, etc.).
Another group called Los Tachos has a heavier reggae feel to their music, at least what I heard on the album Positiva Resistencia. I think at times, it sounds like remakes of Bob Marley songs. And since I’m a Bob Marley fan, I like their music.
The band Frigüey (pronounced something like “free-gway”) writes music that is a mix of cumbia, salsa, and reggaeton, and in my opinion, adds in a little bit of reggae, funk, and rock as well. I really like this group. The music is catchy – I listened to the album Mujeres Arriba. There’s something about them that I like. I might try to find this one.
There are even a couple of rap and hip-hop artists from El Salvador that I found as well. One group that I found is called Pescozada. Judging from my loose translations of the titles of the songs, I’m guessing the subject matter reflects the same subjects matters written about in American rap and hip-hop songs. Another that I found is called Reyes del Bajo Mundo. It’s more or less in the same styles as Pescozada. But I like both of them.
Up next: the food