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TABS and History: Chicha & Los Hijos Del Sol


December 17, 2021
Written by
Fabi Reyna
Powered by
Fender

Similar to its origins, Chicha—also recognized as Cumbia Peruana, Psychedelic Peruvian Rock, Cumbia Tropical, and often mistaken with Cumbia Amazónica—holds a depthful and multi-faceted place in the history of South American music. To even begin understanding the sounds and culture that make up Cumbia Peruana we need to begin by visually and sonically acknowledging the region, its land and its indigenous people as they pertain to Huayno music, the grandmother of Chicha as well as Cumbia Amazónica, the mother of Chicha.

Skip the history, go straight to the lesson

Map Perú

Huayno 

Huayno itself is a musical blend of pre and post colonial instrumentation, tradition, and language with roots in Inca and Spanish culture. It’s considered ‘the music of the andes’ for its practice among indigenous communities living along the mountains throughout Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina—most significantly, Quechua speaking peoples. As I’ve come to understand it at this moment in time, the base of both Cumbia Amazónica and Chicha begins in large part here, with the practice of stringed instruments from European influence such as guitars, harps, and mandolins utilizing the pentatonic scale to form melodies often revolved around a call and response meant to mimic the movement and rhythm of a couples dance. Another inheritance that Chicha gained from Huayno music is the right hand picking and strumming method, using their fingers and nails to pick, and create the iconic tone of Chicha. If you listen closely and compare melodies and singing structures, it’s easy to hear the relationship between Chicha and Huayno.

Cumbia Amazónica 

Influences from Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Europe and the United States 

Throughout the early to mid 1990s, US manufacturing and industry began injecting a variety of new influences throughout the rural and amazonian regions of Peru. As Echos of The Amazon via Brooklyn by Amauta Marston-Firmino describes it, “This was the beginning of a new kind of culture, an unplanned and quickly growing hybridity— cosmopolitans in the middle of nowhere.” It was the intersection of industry, a wave of migrant communities seeking new opportunities for work, and the influx of these traveling cultures that brought new sonic influences to the table, particularly from countries bordering Peru such as Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. But as Frimino describes, “a peculiar musical phenomenon started bubbling up in the tangles of alienated immigrant communities and an urbanized social structure rife with contradictions and imbalances of power. Juaneco y Su Conjunto became the defining sound of an urban, working-class Amazon.”

In the 1960s a young musician from Pucallpa, Peru—a city on the Ucayali River in the Amazonian rainforest of eastern Peru, inhabited primarily by the Shipibo-Conibo peoples—named Juan Wong Paredes began merging the sounds of Tropical music from the Caribbean, Cumbias from Colombia, and the bustling sounds of Pop/Rock from Brazil (by way of US and Europe) with his already established practice of Andean folk. Leading with melodies and vocal sounds mirroring Amazonian life, Juaneco y su Conjunto were born, paving the way for what would later become Chicha.

chicha Juaneco y Su Combo

Chicha 

The roots of Chicha begin with Chicha as the ancestral fermented drink made with maiz and consumed by various indigenous communities throughout the Andes mountains and Amazon rainforest. In the liner notes of the compilation that brought Chicha to an international stage, Barbés Records says “[Chicha] has gone on to become a totemic word conjuring both pride and shame, representing thousands of years of pre-Colombian tradition on one hand, and five hundred years of servitude and neglect culminating in the harsh slums of Lima on the other.” 

Chicha was, like many other genres we know and love, a voice for Black and Indigenous solidarity and resilience. Birthed from Cumbia Amazónica, Chicha is grounded in traditional Andean melodies and techniques, as well as Caribbean beats and percussive instrumentation (musica tropical) created by Black communities in South America (Colombia and Brazil). Through the collaboration of intergenerational sounds and experiences, the difference between Cumbia Amazónica and Chicha, is that while Cumbia Amazónica was formed for and by the jungle, Chicha tells the story of their migration to Lima and the subsequent shame, joy, despair, hardship and innovation of establishing new life in the city. 

Today, thousands of people all over the world are recognizing Chicha for its sonic ability to depict history, migration, and an unwavering appreciation and longing for life living alongside Earth. 

Roots of Chicha

For this lesson we’ll be focusing on one of Peru’s ultimate classics, “Cariñito” by Los Hijos Del Sol.

Where to Begin?

I used a Fender Player Plus Series electric guitar >> through a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner >> with a Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb pedal >>> coming out of a 2020 Twin Reverb Fender amp. If you’re looking to get the same well-rounded tone with hints of surfy twang and wavy vibes, I would recommend a spring reverb and a mid-level EQ on your amp with an extra boost in the treble.

For the best results, you’ll need to get the following ready:

  • Patience
  • Comfortable seat
  • Metronome (any free metronome app will do) 
  • Electric guitar
  • Light to medium-weight guitar pick (for reference, I’m using a size .60 mm Dunlop pick)
  • Amp (optional)

Transformative Tips

Before you get started, let me fill you in on some easy but transformative tips that helped me to get to the 101 BPM speed that this tune requires.

Pace:

To really get this song down without hurting yourself, it’s important to start at a slow BPM of around 70 – 80 (or slower, experiment with what feels right) and gradually work your way up to 101 BPM. This is where your patience and metronome will become your best friends.

Strings:

The lighter the string gauge, the easier it may be to develop strength in your hammer on/offs and left-hand speed. I typically use .011 gauge strings, but for this lesson I switched to Fender’s nickel-plated steel strings (.010-.046 gauges). I’ve found that, perhaps due to my extremely thin and small fingers, .009 tend to slip off and .011 or thicker create more tension in the action than what I’m comfortable with for speed. Learn more about string options here.

Picks: 

I recommend experimenting with light to medium-weight picks. Typically I use a medium pick, but found that a lightweight pick allowed me to move through the notes faster. Learn more about picks here.

Part 1: Let’s Get Started 

It can be hard for anyone to know where to start on a tune like this. What I found so essential to bringing this piece justice is not only getting up to the required speed, but listening to and understanding the feel. What helps me keep speed vs. feel balance is to break up the song into Parts, Phrases, and Riffs. In this case, I’m defining a phrase as a major character change within the whole segment of music we’re learning, and a riff as a packaged sequence of notes that builds the character within the phrase.

This particular piece has many iterations of how to perform it living on YouTube but because my hands are so small, I decided to figure out the hand placements and formations that suit me best.  The song as a whole pretty much has two parts which is basically just part 1 repeated with some extra fills in part 2. To further break it down:

  1. Part one of this song features 6 phrases
  2. Each phrase includes one to five riffs 
  3. Start each phrase at 80 BPM or slower
  4. Increase from there once you’ve played each phrase successfully five times.

At 101 BPM, all phrases and riffs played together will create part one and sound like this:

80 BPM with TABS 

Follow along with the downloadable TABS here: “Cariñito” Los Hijos del Sol TAB

Play Video

Phrase 1

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Phrase 2

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Phrase 3

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Phrase 4

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Phrase 5

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Phrase 6

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