Chile's national dance is the cueca. The dance is a story of a man pursuing a woman who plays coy hiding behind her handkerchief. You will see the dance performed at every important festival in Chile, and especially on the Chilean National Day on the 18th of September. Dancers dress in the traditional costumes of the Chilean huaso and wave their white handkerchiefs in the air.
The most important music movement is from the 1960's. The "nueva canción" (new song) movement put emphasis on the guitar sound and also traditional Andean instruments as the troubadour sang politically based songs. The lyrics are not necessarily associated with party politics, but rather focus on the struggle for a change and the value of rural life and beauty. While the music is a bit outdated politically, most Chileans still continue to appreciate the music from groups that continue the traditions today.
Los Jaivas is one of the most popular bands throughout Chilean history. As members of the band have passed away or gone in other directions, new members take up their places. The band is based mainly in the Parra family. Violeta Parra was the most famous singer of the family, who spent much of the 1940's and 50's traveling throughout the country collecting the traditional rural songs and then recording them for the radio thus immortalizing the music. Her awareness of poverty and injustice is haunting in each of her songs.
Victor Jara was perhaps the only other singer from the "nueva canción" movement in Chile to earn international fame. His music was incredibly poignant and his political connections were reflected through all of his music to the point that some of his song were banned. One of his famous songs, Te Recuerdo Amanda, tells the story of a young girl waiting for her love to return from the factory. There is an accident in the factory and he never returns. Victor Jara was one of the hundreds of Chileans who were taken to the National Stadium after September 11th 1973 and were tortured and then killed.
Today Chile has several different bands with have been successful internationally. At the moment, most clubs are filled with reggaeton and cumbia music. There is also a large number of clubs that offer salsa lessons early in the night.
Some popular bands include: La Ley, Los Tres and Los Prisioneros, Chancho en Piedra, Los Bunkers, Sinergia.
Some popular solo artists: Myriam Hernandez, Luis Jara, Alberto Plaza, Pablo Herrera, Americo.
We will add a lot more Chilean groups and singers to this list as time goes by.
If you enjoy classical music, you should go to the traditional Frutillar Music Festival which is held at the end of January beginning of February (in Frutillar). Many people travel to this town specifically for this music event that has been held here since 1968. The festival hosts singers and musicians from the entire country and sometimes an international performer or two. They play all kinds of music from chamber to jazz. You must pay for individual concerts, with the more expensive ones being played at night.
In May you have the Blues Festival of Talagante which brings together the best blues bands in Chile.
You may want to check out the video we have about Mapuche musical instruments on the Mapuche (Chilean indigenous people) page.
If you are looking for Chile's national song then you will find it here: Chilean National Anthem
If you found this guide to Chilean Music useful, share it with others: