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article image'Chinchineros' — Part of Chile’s intangible cultural heritage

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 5, 2014 in Music
Santiago - A true celebration of popular musical heritage was held on September 3 when 15 family groups performing traditional Chilean instruments exhibited their century-old skills in the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre (GAM) in Santiago de Chile.
The event coincided with the launch of the website "Patrimonio Sonoro" (Spanish for “Musical Heritage”) dedicated to the dissemination and enrichment of the national cultural legacy of popular street music. The new website is dedicated to the performers of the Chilean cultural expression known as “Chinchín and Organillo,” a tradition that commenced in the cities of Santiago and Valparaiso around 1920.
The celebration, highlighted in the Music section of the website of GAM — Center for the Arts, Culture and People, presented 15 families of street performers or “Chinchineros” who displayed their unique routines featuring a variety of dances and melodies in a celebration called "The Gala of the Chinchín and Organillo."
The Chinchinero is a street interpreter of popular music that carries on his back a drum and two cymbals, and a triangle mounted over the drum. The musician strikes the drum with two sticks, while the cymbals sound through the action of a rope tied to the performer’s shoe while he dances acrobatically. The triangle sounds randomly depending on the moves made by the performer. Chinchineros regularly play in the streets, squares and parks, especially during the celebration of national folk festivals.
A team of Chinchineros during a national folk celebration in Chile
A team of Chinchineros during a national folk celebration in Chile
The Chinchinero commonly performs in conjunction with an Organillero (Organ Grinder). Often the chinchinero and his partner, the organillero, are also accompanied by a “talking parrot.” People watching the entertainers usually donate money to reward the street musicians’ abilities. The team also makes money by selling pinwheels and other colourful toys for children. The activity is frequently carried out by members of the same family and is common to see a team of chinchineros composed by father and son.
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