C is for Churango

An incredible video of the Churango, and Andean instrument being played.

This week we studied the letter “C” at home. For our music activity, my husband introduced our family to an indigenous Ecuadorian instrument called the Charango.

The Charango is a small, guitar-like instrument that originates from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. It can also sometimes be heard in the ancestral music of Chile and Argentina.
The string instrument was traditionally made from the shell of an Armadillo. While some traditionally made Charangos are still in use, many are now made from wood that is carved to mimic the sound and shape of the Armadillo shell.

“There are many stories of how the charango came to be made with its distinctive diminutive sound box of armadillo. One story says that the native musicians liked the sound the vihuela made, but lacked the technology to shape the wood in that manner. Another story says that the Spaniards prohibited natives from practicing their ancestral music, and that the charango was a successful attempt to make a lute that could be easily hidden under a garment such as a poncho.[6]”

Music historians say that the first recorded evidence of this instrument was from the 18th century. However, there is some speculation that the instrument was used during the musical celebrations of a church that was built-in Bolivia in 1547. If that is so, the origins of this magnificent instrument could be nearly 500 years old.

 

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