Bolivian music styles vary greatly between regions. That's because Bolivia is such a multi-ethnic country. Bolivia has over 30 different ethnic groups and cultures and each has their own type of music. In addition, may styles have been adopted from other countries by Bolivian musicians. In Eastern Bolivia music is completely different from elsewhere. Here music is usually very fast and festive. You can hear styles like the chacarera and taquirari. The names of many music styles in Bolivia's tropical Eastern half are in Guarani and traditional dances are also typical of the tropical Amazonian tribes such as the Guaraní, Ayoreos, and others. In Southeastern Bolivia, and specifically in Tarija, you'll find the liveliest music in the country.
There are so many different Bolivian dances, we’ve divided this into 4 pages. When you finish reading this page on the lively and festive music of Eastern, tropical Bolivia, proceed to page 2 -4 to hear the beautiful music of the Central and Southern Bolivian valleys, the wind instruments and drums of the Bolivian Andes Mountains, and the most surprising of all, the centuries-old tradition of baroque music of Bolivia's Jesuit Missions, an ancient European Renaissance music style taught to the indigenous peoples in Bolivia's Chiquitania region and passed down from generation to generation for over 500 years.
Carnavalito: Derived from the “huayno”, described above, it was adapted to Eastern Bolivian instruments and does not include flutes or pan flutes, but does include drums and other similar wind instruments. Now it is played by large bands and sometimes with synthesizers but traditionally it is played by the “tamboritas”, typical Eastern Bolivian musical groups. The two main instruments are the tamborcillos (small drums) and violins.
Taquirari: This type of music is believed to have originated from a warrior dance that is danced by the Moxos (from the departments of Beni and Santa Cruz) according to the translation of the word “takirikire” which meant “dance of the arrow”. It is the emblemic rhythm of the Bolivian orient and like the chovena, the carnavalito and others, it is played with both wind and percussion instruments, or with violins and accordions. There is also an Andean version but it sounds more like the huayño.
Brincao This is a very lively music danced generally at parties or around Carnaval time, and very specific to Santa Cruz. The way in which it is danced is similar to line dancing in some ways.
Chovena: Also from Eastern Bolivia it is played using the “pifano de tacuara” (a fife made from the tacuara which is a species of bamboo), drums, and sometimes the violin and accordion. This is the rhythm of the tribes that inhabited the plains and originated prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. It is very popular during Carnaval.
Macheteros: This type of music and dance is from Moxos (in the department of Beni) and is played only with small drums. It is typical of the “moxeño” indigenous tribes who, upon being colonized by Spain, merged their customs with the Spaniards’ beliefs and this dance usually accompanies Catholic festivities that were instilled during the Colonial.