Music: Chuco-Chuco Percussion in Guarare


The Chuco-Chuco in Play at the Mil Polleras

The Chuco-Chuco in Play at the Mil Polleras

Guarare, Panama, a small town just west of Las Tablas, is “the home of the chuco-chuco,” at least according to the song “Yo me voy a Guarare.”  A chuco-chuco is a percussion instrument, similar but not the same as the güiro which is found in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Like the güiro, the chuco-chuco is made by serrating one side of a dried gourd.  Unlike the güiro, the chuco-chuco gourd is left intact, so the sound is softer.  When a stick or extremely stiff brush is passed over the ridges, it produces a chh-chh, chh-chh sound which is what gives the instrument its name.  A skilled player can draw many variations of that sound from his chuco-chuco.

Guarare is well known locally for the chuco-chuco, to the point that both are celebrated in song.  Here are the lyrics, should you want to be ready when the locals tune up.  An English translation is below the Spanish.

The Guarare Song

Chuco-Chuco Musician at the 2014 Mil Polleras

Chuco-Chuco Musician at the 2014 Mil Polleras 
 

Guarare, Guarare, Guarare,
Yo me voy para Guarare.
Guarare, Guarare, Guarare,
Yo me voy para Guarare
Viajando por Guarare,
La tierra del chuco-chuco.
En un sillon de bejuco solita me acomodé.
Guarare, Guarare, Guarare,
Yo me voy para Guarare.

Guarare, Guarare, Guarare
I am going to Guarare.
Guarare, Guarare, Guarare
I am going to Guarare.
I am traveling to Guarare,
The land of the chuco-chuco.
In an armchair of cane, I made myself comfortable.
Guarare, Guarare, Guarare,
Yo me voy para Guarare.

Want to hear it sung by me and my friends?  Click the triangle on the audio file:

The song is also an interesting example of the uses of para and por.