Juan Ignacio Pazmiño
Music during the 21st century has the power to travel anywhere in the world at impressively fast rates. Nowadays, most of the music we hear comes from international musicians, causing a decrease in admiration of our traditional music. Many youngsters prefer to hear music that has gained popularity abroad and therefore spreads all around the world. Sadly, during the last 15 years, folkloric music has lost power due to the increasing expansion of popular culture. Probably none of you have heard a “Pasillo”, but how many of you have heard The Beatles, or The Killers, or Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball? The problem with our generation is that we are full of “pop” and never try to embrace our own culture and traditions. So lets forget for a moment about Miley Cyrus dancing naked on a wrecking ball, and lets begin learning about our own musicians.
Ecuadorian rhythms include a variety of popular and traditional music that have evolved during our history. There’s little we know about our music before the Colonies arrived, but basically our nation’s rhythms come directly from traditional Andean music, indigenous music from the jungle, plus African and European influences. That is why we can say that our music reflects the multiethnic, and multicultural characteristic that we possess.
Through time, Ecuadorian music has notably evolved and a large gamma of genres has appeared, including: “El Pasillo”, a variation of the Austrian waltz, extremely popular nationally and internationally. We also have “Sanjuanito”, a joyful genre autochthonous from Imbabura. The “Marimba esmeraldeña” represents the Ecuadorian sounds from the coast, and is usually accompanied by its folkloric dance. Then there is “La bomba del Chota”, which was created by afro-Ecuadorians in the valley of Chota. The “Yaraví”, is a sentimental fusion between Inca music and middle age troubadour poetry from Spain, and finally there are ballet variations called, “Capishca”, and “Cachullapi”. These are all different genres of our traditional music, but each one of these reflect their time, their culture, and their influences. The most notorious one that best represents our Ecuadorian roots is “El Pasillo”.
“El Pasillo” is one of the most known musical genres in Ecuador. It derived from Colombia, and it was blended with the country’s traditions creating a new style. “El Pasillo” arises directly from European influences; its musical origins come from the well-known Austrian Waltz, and its cultural origins embrace Andean and European influences during the wars for independence. “Pasillo” started in the first decades of the 19th century as a rhythmic variation from Austrian waltzes, this determined a faster and steeper rhythm. The change into a speedier rhythm became a dare for dancers, as its quick beats got dancers exhausted. In Ecuador, this folkloric music received influences from “El Sanjuanito” and “El Yaraví”; that’s why the Ecuadorian “Pasillo” is slow and melancholic. Due to its capacity to integrate and generate different meanings in a variety of social groups, the ethnical and generational, “El Pasillo” has converted into the musical symbol of nationality. In this way, we see the different styles of “Pasillo” according to the region where it was produced. It popularity began with the “Duo Ecuador”, composed by Enrique Ibañez Mora y Nicasio Safadi, but it was during Julio Jaramillo’s career that it reached its peak. Julio Jaramillo epitomized this folkloric musical genre. Some other interpreters worth mentioning include, Enrique Espín Yépez, “los hermanos Miño Naranjo”, Carlota Jaramillo, and the duo Benitez-Valencia. Some famous “pasillos” include: “Sendas”, “distintas”, “Pasional”, “Invernal”, “Ángel de Luz” and “Aguacate”. “El Pasillo” should not be considered another musical genre; it’s a national symbol, and it represents Ecuadorian people.
A great number of musical genres exist in Ecuador, and this is just an insight of our folkloric music. Music culture in our country is growing step by step, but it needs supporters to fully grow. So listen to our sounds, listen to our artists and embrace your origins and your traditions.