“What is the music of El Salvador?” you might ask a Salvadoran, and most Salvadorans will answer “Cumbia” – but the less famous Chanchona music is an often overlooked, under appreciated, (and sometimes just plain unknown!) genre that is uniquely Salvadoran.
The word “Chanchona” basically means “big pig” – an affectionate yet amusing name given to the large stringed bass that is at the heart of this music. Other instruments heard in the always upbeat Chanchona music include violins, güira, guitars, conga and other percussion.
In 2011, Smithsonian Folkways Magazine did a fantastic feature of the Chanchona group, Los Hermanos Lovo. Check out this video, and then to learn more, I encourage you to visit the link below where you can read some really touching stories and interesting history from the musicians about the music. If you end up loving it as much as I do, there’s a link down below to song samples and downloads.
Smithsonian Folkways Magazine: The Sound and Story of the Salvadoran Chanchona by Daniel E. Sheehy
¡Soy Salvadoreño! Chanchona Music from Eastern El Salvador by Los Hermanos Lovo (samples & downloads)