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By Nigel Hicks, Linda Whitwam

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Carlos gardel was an enormously popular tango singer during the early 1900s. His death in an airplane crash at the height of his career created an image of a tragic hero. For many music fans, Gardel embodies the soul of Argentinian tango. Adriana Varela, with her smoky voice, is a popular contemporary tango singer. She is also outspoken about her left­wing leanings. Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla is considered the most important tango composer of the late 20th century. His compositions revolu­ tionized traditional tango by adding elements of modern jazz.

Argentinian cumbia was originally derived from Colombian cumbia. The term used to refer to songs dealing with love and jealousy set to a tinny beat, but in the late 1990s a scene called cumbia villera (shanty town) emerged. Well-known bands include Damas Gratis (right) and Yerba Brava. A P o r t r A I t o F A r g e n t I n A 29 Chacarera is played on the guitar, violin, and bombo legüero (drum), and sometimes with an accordion. It is an upbeat country rhythm with a dance akin to a line-dance with couples moving in and out of the embrace position.

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