Musica Tipica de Panama

It occurred to me that I have been remiss in delving into the music of Panama in this blog. A shame because I love music so much.

When riding the local buses here there is always music playing, either on the radio or from the driver’s own collection. Much of it, most of it, in fact, is what we gringos would consider typical “Latin” rhythms. There are some drivers who actually play a lot of plain, old, rock and roll from the good old U. S. of A. There are certain musical styles outside the States that are easily identified by gringos. No one needs to tell us what mariachi music is, nor a lot of other typically “Mexican” music, either. We’re all familiar with sambas, rumbas, tangos, meringues, and, of course tangos.

But a genre we’re not familiar with is what is known here as “Musica Tipica.” It’s heavy on accordion and congas. There is almost always a female singer and her contribution reminds me, very much, of Spain’s Flamenco with its slightly nasal quality. I found “Tipica” while “station surfing and fell in love with it almost immediately. Most nights I go to bed with station 107.9 playing and always fall asleep before the timer shuts the music off for the night.

Some famous Panamanian artists in this genre are Ulpiano Vergara, Dorindo Cárdenas, Victorio Vergara, Roberto “Papi” Brandao, Nenito Vargas, Yin Carrizo, Nina Campines, Abdiel Núñez, Manuel de Jesús Abrego, and Samy Y Sandra Sandoval, a brother and sister combo, just to name a few.

Probably the most famous Panamanian singer is Grammy winner Ruben Blades who also served as the country’s Minister of Tourism. I’ve posted one of the many versions of his song “Patria” before. This is NOT a “Tipica” song. I just love it so you’ll have to bear with me. Many consider it to be Panama’s “Second National Anthem.”

Here Jonathan Chavez interprets the same song in “Tipica” mode.

Here’s why Samy y Sandra are so popular


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3 responses to “Musica Tipica de Panama

  1. There is NO GREATER Panama Music artist than Lucho Azcárraga, para musica typica escuche-see/hear: o 1912-1996 R.I.P. vaya con Dias amigo Ruben Blades, Sammy y Sandra could only wish!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lou. I checked your link and a couple of other Lucho Azarraga videos, too, and all I can say is I like looking at Sandra a WHOLE lot better.

  2. Hello Richard:

    You wrote, “Many consider it to be Panama’s “Second National Anthem.”

    This is a solid statement. Patria brings some many emotions deep inside of me, that makes me feel extremely proud to have Panama as my Motherland.

    That is why I started Lingua Franca to express with words and images what this country means to us.

    I will continue to do so, until my camera breaks down, or until I break down. How long? Who knows.

    Thanks you for this wonderful contribution of Panama´s typical music.



  3. This is wonderful music. What surprised me immediately is how reminiscent it is of music from Ghana and Nigeria in the 70s and early 80s – walk the streets of Monrovia and it would be everywhere. It would be in every two-bit village, for that matter – someone always had cassettes and a player.

    The instrumentation was different, of course, but the rhythms, especially, are very much the same. When I get a minute I’ll have to go poke around, because I can “hear” that African music but can’t recall names.

    A couple of examples of the so-called “Kusum beat” aren’t quite it, but they did remind me that Tower of Power owes West Africa a debt of gratitude, too. Or vice-versa. Love those horns!

    I really enjoyed the videos.

    I am totally a child of rock & roll. I can tolerate some classical music. The more bombastic the better. (Think 1821 Overture) Quite frankly, jazz bores me to death and makes my back teeth fall asleep. On the other hand, I enjoy a lot of “World” music, especially the African rhythms. I remember the first time I heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo introduced by Paul Simon. Now, here in Panama I’m really absorbing the “tipica” and the best part of it is that slowly but surely I’m beginning to understand the lyrics as my Spanish improves which only makes it better.