Tango aside, Argentine music is rooted in the rural dance traditions of its expansive countryside. Although chamamé is wildly different to tango in spirit, it is equally evocative and beautiful. Chamamé originates from the indigenous culture of the northeast Argentine province of Corrientes (where my gaucho grandfather and mom grew up), an area that attracted numerous Spanish and Central European settlers. These immigrants brought with them European music that merged with local music and African rhythms to create chamamé.
Chamamé is traditionally associated with village weddings and fiestas. Chamame's "countryside" origins led to snobbery about chamamé music. The music enjoyed by farm labourers, village people and migrant workers was disdained by the Argentine middle classes and Buenos Aires intellectuals, and what doesn't get heard in Buenos Aires, doesn't have much chance in getting heard either in the rest of Argentina, or abroad. So for many years, chamamé stayed a local music.
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