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Thomas J.

Music 1040-2 Music and Culture
Instructor: Barbara Shelton
July 26, 2014
Bolivian Music and Culture
This paper is on the music, religion, and history of Bolivia. Bolivia is a country rich with
musical heritage. It contains remnants of the Incan civilization dating back to the 1500s when
the first Spanish Conquistadors landed in South America. Although in the 21
century, Bolivian
music is more tribal due to the world, and also the availability of instrumentation. To sum it up,
Bolivia is a treasure trove of rich folklore music, Christianity, and history.
To help get a more personal view on Bolivia I interviewed someone who had actually
lived in Bolivia. The person interviewed is Jayson Cooley. Jayson is 21 and is currently going to
Utah State University to get a degree in mechanical engineering. He lived in Bolivia for 2 years
while serving on a LDS mission in June 2012. He recently returned this last June. Bolivia is
located in central South America. Bolivia has been completely landlocked ever since the war
with Chile in the late 1800s. This is significant because after losing the war, Chile took the
coastal part of Bolivia, leaving the country without direct access to the ocean. Since Bolivia was
left landlocked they dont have access to a sea port. This greatly decreases their exposure to new
ideas, culture, and society in general. Not only does this affect their exposure, it also affects their
economy because they cant ship things as easily. They need to use either airplanes or trucks to
get everything in and out of the country. Airplanes are expensive and Bolivia is a very poor
country so the majority of the already limited transportation is done through trucking. This factor
makes Bolivia a haven for ancestral music and heritage that has changed very little over the
recent decades due to the fact that ideas and culture travel slowly into and out of Bolivia.
One idea or belief that has not traveled slowly would be Christianity. Ever since the
Spanish came to the Americas they brought their religion with them ad began converting and
baptizing. Jason Cooley says although 90% of Bolivia is Roman Catholic very few of them
actually practice their religion. In the world there are about 1.1 billion Roman Catholics making
it one of the largest religions in the world. Catholics believe in the birth, death, and resurrection
of the Lord Jesus Christ. They also believe that their priesthood authority comes directly from
the apostle Paul who gave it to the first pope. The Roman Empire adopted this as their official
religion. After Rome fell, both the temporal and spiritual well-being of Catholic believers fell
into the hands of the pope. This gave the church enormous power. It has had enormous influence
on the modern world. It is currently growing the most in Asia, Africa, and South America (which
includes Bolivia). All Roman Catholics practice the ordinance of baptism usually at infancy.
They believe that baptism is needed to be saved. Also the sacrament ordinance is seen as a
means of obtaining grace as well as being a symbol of grace. Roman Catholics also believe in
order to be saved one must have good works and faith. Roman Catholics also celebrate
Christmas and Easter, which celebrate Christs birth and resurrection. Bolivian Catholicism has
not significantly impacted the United States because it was a prevalent religion already in the
United States with little variation in its practice. Bolivia has experienced substantial Spanish
influence due to the early 16
and 17
century Catholic missionary endeavors. Not all Bolivians
are Christians. The main religious sect in Bolivia may be the Roman Catholics, but the
Evangelists, and Jehovah witnesses also have a number of followers. The United States has
stayed mostly the same due strongly to the fact that since the late 1890s Bolivia has had no
ports. Not much leaves or comes from Bolivia. As such Bolivia is a very regional country and
doesnt have much influence on the United States. The same is not true however for the United
States affecting Bolivia. The United States has had enormous impacts on everything from
politics to music.
Bolivian music has a lot of indigenous as well as Spanish influences due to the fact that
the Incan empire was spread across the entire country as well as the Andean region. Because of
this influence it is a whole lot less modern sounding. Their songs feature folklore styles. Due to
the unfinished revolution in Bolivia in the 1950s and 60s the Bolivian people are very tied to
their ancestral music. This is because of fascism trying to get into the country during World War
1. This is also when the United States started being involved politically, because they were
concerned about the new government being corrupted. The new governments put a lot of stress
and emphasis on their heritage particularly from the Incan civilization. This music is known as
Andean due to the fact it lies within the Andes Mountain Range. It is influenced mostly by the
Incan Empire which was the dominant force in South America until the 16th and 17th century.
Also not only do they have their ancestral music but they also have lots of other kinds of music.
One style is known as Chichi which is pretty much drinking songs. They will listen to these
kinds of songs when they go party in the evenings. They also listen to a lot of radio and as such
are exposed to other cultures and music genres other than folklore. Two of their dominant
instruments are the Quechua, and the Panpipe. The Quechua is a twelve string guitar that was
taken from Spain. The Panpipe is a type of flute. They are predominantly made with notched
reeds. The Song that I chose is La pastora Catalina and it is a Christian song about shepherds
bringing gifts to the baby Jesus who was just born. This Bolivian song shows their dedication to
Christianity. From the first verse the song talks about a shepherdess who is bringing a donkey
laden with kumquats, which are a small citrus fruit. The Chorus comes next which talks about
the shepherds coming to the baby Jesus. In verse two it talks about all of the gifts that the other
shepherds brought to Him. Then it repeats the chorus. This is a great song because it shows that
although none of the Shepherds brought gold or diamonds to the new born king they still all
came and offered their gifts and hearts to Him. This song hasnt had much impact on the United
States due to the fact that Bolivia isnt an influential country.
Bolivia is a unique culture that is historical as well as religious. The people enjoy a
plethora of music from as early as 1200 AD to contemporary music heard on the radio today.
They have a past full of drama and war that have put them in the situation where they are now.
The peoples conversion to Christianity is truly a miracle with over 90% of the population being
some denomination of Christianity. Bolivia has been and always will be a sanctuary of ancestral

Library. (n.d.). Roman Catholic Origins, Roman Catholic History, Roman Catholic Beliefs. Retrieved July
24, 2014, from http://www.patheos.com/Library/Roman-Catholicism.html
Bolivia Religion. Bolivian Traditions. Bolivia Culture Customs Beliefs.. (n.d.). BoliviaBella. Retrieved July
24, 2014, from http://www.boliviabella.com/bolivia-religion.html
Music of Bolivia. (2014, July 20). Wikipedia. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from
I, Thomas W. Kerby, proofread Thomas J. Kerbys
term paper and made corrections on July 26, 2014.

Thomas W. Kerby
Signature of proofreader

I, Jessica Lynn Kerby, proofread Thomas J. Kerbys
term paper and made corrections on July 26, 2014.

Jessica Lynn Kerby
Signature of proofreader