List of Central American folk music traditions

This is a list of folk music traditions, with styles, dances, instruments and other related topics. The term folk music can not be easily defined in a precise manner; it is used with widely varying definitions depending on the author, intended audience and context within a work. Similarly, the term traditions in this context does not connote any strictly-defined criteria. Music scholars, journalists, audiences, record industry individuals, politicians, nationalists and demagogues may often have occasion to address which fields of folk music are distinct traditions based along racial, geographic, linguistic, religious, tribal or ethnic lines, and all such peoples will likely use different criteria to decide what constitutes a "folk music tradition". This list uses the same general categories used by mainstream, primarily English-language, scholarly sources, as determined by relevant statements of fact and the internal structure of works.

These traditions may coincide entirely, partially or not at all with geographic, political, linguistic or cultural boundaries. Very few, if any, music scholars would claim that there are any folk music traditions that can be considered specific to a distinct group of people and with characteristics undiluted by contact with the music of other peoples; thus, the folk music traditions described herein overlap in varying degrees with each other.

Country Elements Dance Instrumentation Other topics
Belizean Kriols[1] brukdown accordion - banjo - dingaling - guitar - marimba
Garifuna[1] paranda - punta guitar - scraper - shaker
Guatemalan[2] marimba
Kuna[3] gammu burui - guli
Panamanian[4] copla - décima - gallina - llanto - mejorana - mesano - punto - saloma - tono - toque - torrente - valdivieso amanojá - bunde - congo - cumbia panameña - escobillado - llanero - mejorana - paseo - seguidilla - socavone - suelta - tamborito - zapateo - zapateado accordion - caja - churruca - flute - guitar - harmonica - maraca - mejorana - pujador - repicador - tambora - triangle - violin cantalante - tuna


  • Broughton, Simon; Mark Ellingham (2000). Rough Guide to World Music (First ed.). London: Rough Guides. ISBN 1-85828-636-0.
  • Lankford, Ronald D. Jr. (2005). The Changing Voice Music of Protest USA. New York: Schirmer Trade Books. ISBN 0-8256-7300-3.
  • Philip V. Bohlman; Bruno Nettl; Charles Capwell; Thomas Turino; Isabel K. F. Wong (1997). Excursions in World Music (Second ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-230632-8.
  • Nettl, Bruno (1965). Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Fujie, Linda; James T. Koetting; David P. McAllester; David B. Reck; John M. Schechter; Mark Slobin; R. Anderson Sutton (1992). Jeff Todd Titan (ed.). Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples (Second ed.). New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-872602-2.
  • van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-316121-4.
  • "International Dance Glossary". World Music Central. Archived from the original on February 7, 2006. Retrieved April 3, 2006.


  1. ^ a b Graham, Ronnie, "Drum'n'Flute Legacies", in the Rough Guide to World Music, pgs. 325 - 331
  2. ^ Nettl, Folk and Traditional Music, pg. 178
  3. ^ Schechter, John M., "Latin America/Ecuador" in Worlds of Music, pgs. 376 - 427
  4. ^ Gallop, Nigel and Robin Broadbank, "Dancing Between the Oceans", in the Rough Guide to World Music, pgs. 477 - 480