In contrast to most of its neighbors, the national music of Paraguay
is overwhelmingly European in character. This is quite ironic given that Paraguayans, of which an almost absolute majority is mestizo
, are in general very nativist; of the two national languages spoken by a universally bilingual population, Spanish
. Guarani, an indigenous language, is favored as the language of everyday speech while Spanish is reserved for more formal settings. Also peculiar is that despite the music being overwhelmingly European, the language of choice for the lyrics is also most often Guaraní.
The Paraguayan polka
is a very popular genre. The main difference between the Paraguayan polka and the European polka
is that the Paraguayan polka combines ternary and binary rhythms, where as the European only uses binary. However, the most famous style of music is the Guarania
, created by the Paraguayan musician José Asunción Flores
in 1925. The Guarania was created in order to communicate and express the character of the Paraguayan people more than the way the Paraguayan polka did. The Guarania accomplishes this by using a combination of slow rhythms and melodies of melancholia
character. Other popular genres of traditional music in Paraguay are the zarzuela
and the "Paraguayan Songs", which are derived from the Paraguayan polka.
There is a small but vibrant jazz community in Paraguay. Key players include: Palito Miranda
(tenor sax), Victor "Toti" Morel
(drums), Jorge "Lobito" Martinez
and Carlos Centurión
(piano), and Gustavo Viera
Several world-popular genres of music, such as rock
are fairly new in the Paraguayan music scene. This is because of the fierce dictatorship
enforced by former President Alfredo Stroessner
during his mandate from 1954 to 1989, in which he banned all forms of liberal expressions. Despite that, a few rock groups were formed in the 1970s such as the Aftermads
and The Blue Caps
. It wasn't until Stroessner's downfall in 1989 that rock groups emerged. In the 1990s groups such as Chris Patik, Enemigos de la Klase, Gaia, Deliverans, El Templo, Dogma, Shamán, Turkish Blend and Slow Agony
became popular. In the new millennium, Paraguayan rock bands have gained a strong following thanks to the big rock festivals such as "Pilsen Rock" and "Quilmes Rock", which gather around 60,000 spectators for every edition. The bands have even gathered some international success by touring throughout Latin America
and even making small gigs
in the United States
. The most popular rock bands as of now are Flou
, Ripe Banana Skins
, Area 69
,Orchablex and Nod.
The Spanish guitar
and European harp
are among the most popular instruments, while dances include the lively polka
and distinctive bottle dance
, which involves the performer twirling a bottle around her head. Composer and guitarist Agustín Barrios
is perhaps the country's best known export.
The Paraguyan harp deserves special mention as a popular instrument with a national style associated with it. The harp in South America dates back to at least 1557
, possibly as early as the beginning of the 16h century
. These harps had 26 to 38 strings, though most typically no fewer than 36. It was frequently used in church music in place of the organ
. The Paraguayan harp is a simplified variation of the instrument, with 38 strings tuned to one major diatonic scale.