The Origins, Influences and Development of Ecuadorian Music
Ecuador is home to a number of cultures, including the Mestizo culture and a unique blend of Afro-Ecuadorian culture. Afro-Ecuadorians are the descendants of African slaves who worked on the coastal sugar plantations in the sixteenth century. The Afro-Ecuadorians that are present in Ecuador today are famous for their marimba music as well as their many music and dance festivals. Long before the Spanish had conquered Ecuador, and even before the rise of the Inca civilization, the diverse native cultures of the region had rich musical traditions. It is clear that music has always played an important role in the ancient Andean people’s lives as archaeologists have found some very old instruments, such as drums, flutes, trumpets and other musical artifacts, in ancient tombs.
When the Spanish, with their Catholic missionaries and their African slaves, conquered Ecuador in the 16th century, many other musical styles were introduced. The mixture of the indigenous, Spanish and African music and sounds have formed very distinctive music styles that are present today.
Ecuador is well-known for marimba, a unique form of music that was introduced by the Esmeraldas. It is a direct and virtually unchanged import from the Western Africa region. Marimba is played on a musical instrument of the same name. The instrument features wooden bars tuned to produce a chromatic scale and with resonators, and these bars are played with small mallets.
Pasillo, pasacalle and yarabi are also very popular forms of music in Ecuador. El pasillo is played with an instrument that usually has six strings which are either strummed or plucked like the strings of a guitar, and the rondin, which is similar to a flute. The musical style is usually down tempo and it is descended from the waltz. Pasacalle is a form of dance music, while the sentimental yarabi is probably the most popular form in Ecuador.
The inhabitants of the Chota River Valley have also invented a form of music called the bomba, which has achieved a bit of a reputation outside the region.