Cumbias Chilenas




In Chile, it seems like every day is party – a reason to celebrate with dance, drink and friends. The music to be played has evolved into a list of basics, of which we will highlight a few below. Chilean cumbia is a subgenre of the musical style: cumbia, from Colombia, Chilean style. Because it incorporates in your face – Chilean sense of sensitivity, simplicity, humor and liveliness. As can be seen, it has now evolved to include not only afro-beats, and native sound, but other ethnic sounds, like gypsy and Klezmer, as well. There are new styles of Chilean cumbia: cumbia andina, la cumbia sound, la Cumbia Romantica y la Nueva Cumbia Chilena.


Chilean cumbias is said to have been born with the arrival of first, Venezuelan, Luisin Landaez  to Chile. This was in 1962, as he arrived with his musical hits, “La Piragua” y “Macondo”. He would live out his life in Chile. The second arrival of musical influence to Chile in the early 1960’s was the Colombian, Amparito Jimenez, when she came to record to Chile, her hit,  “La Pollera Colora”.

Immediately below is a very brief list of cumbias Chilenas (there are many more, and a list can be found at the Wikipedia entry for cumbia chilenas):

1-La Pieneta (LosDomingos)-La Sonora Palacios

2-Maria Maria-La Sonora Malecon

3-El Galeon Español-La Sonora Palacios

4-Mira Ese Barco (“Plena Española”)-Los Vikings 5

5-Pedacito De Mi Vida-La Sonora Palacios

6-La Abusadora-Pachuco y la Cubanacan

7-Loquito Por Ti-Armando Hernandez

8-Consigueme Eso-Pachuco y la Cubanacan

9-La Parabolica-La Sonora De Tommy Rey

10-Candome Para Jose-Los Vikings 5

11-La Arañita-La Sonora Palacios

12-La Piragua-Los Wawanco

13-El Piripao-La Sonora De Tommy Rey

14-Me Estoy Enamorando De Mi Suegra-Los Vikings 5

15-Agua que no has de Beber-La Sonora Palacios

16-Un Año Mas-La Sonora Palacios

One of the classic cumbias from the early 1960’s is El Galeon Español by La Sonora Palacios. This year, 2012, La Sonora Palacios is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Below is a video clip they posted on YouTube to commemorative this happening.

This song as become such an integral part of Chilean popular culture that the home video below demonstrates how ingrained this song is even among the upcoming youth-filled generation from all over Chile. Basically, for Chile’s 2010 Bicentennial, there was organized one orchestra of youths from each of the 15 regions of Chile. The song was interpreted by 1200 young musicians of the grand Bicentennial  Youth Orchestras, in their first reunion, a performance at the Movistar Arena on October 26, 2011. La vida es una fiesta.


Since we are upon New Year’s Eve, there are classic songs, that will be played and have been played for ages. Of these songs, there is a New Year’s hymn which was composed in 1977, four days to the New Year of 1978, and intended as a “tonada”, a ballad. The song sadly says that yet another year has gone by and with it, so have so many of my friends.

It was written by Hernan Gallardo Pavez, during a moment of melancholy and loneliness. Hernan Gallardo Pavez, born May 15, 1928 in Coquimbo, Chile, is a prolific musical composer of over 2000 compositions of which approximately, 500 songs have been sound recorded. Here is a recent interview with him that shows him feeling more alone than ever.

Chilean sense of being, being sung…chaauuuu. . . .It was after visiting the US in the 60’s, and presented with the novel idea that a tropical music band could consist of less members than a “Sonora”, and exist as a “Combo” that Arturo Giolito came back to Chile and formed Giolito y su Combo. Another feature of “Combo’s”that attracted Giolito is the grand importance of its percussion section – since he was to be the band leader, percussionist and drum strutting showman. Giolito y su Combo is considered to be part of the second wave, generation of orchestras of cumbia in Chile.


Another classic Chilean cumbia from memory lane, is by Los Vikings5 , known as “Plena Española” (Mira Ese Barco).

Los Vikings 5 formed in 1969, and recently, May of 2012, Los Vikings 5 were honored as “Illustrious Sons of Coquimbo”, their hometown. Los Vikings 5, Los Viking 5, y Los Viking’s 5 – their LP’s show all three versions, are more the reason to showcase three videos related to them. Also for the reasons, that they worked equally hard on a daily basis in work unrelated to the music scene. They came from a family of furniture makers and throughout all these years, and up to now, they have continuously worked in their family business. What is astonishing is that it is after 42 years of playing cumbia Chilena – in 2011 – when they performed at La Quinta Vergara. An oversight by organizers since, as Los Vikings 5 state, “they are part of Chilean DNA”.

A leap to modern times brings us to the singing sensation from Arica, Chile – Americo with his big breakout hit of 2008-2009! The song “El Embrujo”, originally had been the most played song in Peru of 2007, and interpreted by two other Peruvian bands since it was composed by Peruvian singer/author, Estanis Mogollon.

A new fusion of cumbia Chilena with northern Chilean musical influences blended with gypsy, urban cumbias  called by cultural TV series, Codigo Urbano – “cumbia pichulera pop rock experimental”. The band is called Banda Conmocion. The slang word, pichulera means someone or in this case a thing that does not take anything serious in life, and laughs at it as well, life is light. (This you may note, is an English translation. ¿Porque como dicen el Chile? Real translation, and intentionally misspelled: someone who is “mas gueno pal hueveo“).


Chico Trujillo, Fundi2 waited for your arrival here in Los Angeles, California back in August of this year. Unfortunately, your show was cancelled. Fundi2 looks forward to seeing you perform live here in LA soon!

Fundi2 leaves you with a cumbia bien Chilena! By the all women group, La Banda en Flor. What else can be expected, from the cumbia Chilena, if back in the days of the Los Vikings 5, they had a song claiming que “me estoy – me estoy enamorando de mi suegra” ?


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