Hitting the Right Notes

Cheryl Carlin

The marimba, a type of xylophone with wooden bars arranged like piano keys, is believed to have been first brought to Latin America by African slaves. Marimba Chapinlandia, a band based in Guatemala City, uses an additional instrument, a train whistle, on "Ferrocarril de los altos" ("The Highland Train"), composed by the renowned marimbista Domingo Bethancourt in 1930 to commemorate the first railroad line from the highlands to the coast. Hear it below and Champinlandia: Marimba Music of Guatemala, a new Folkways collection featuring 19 of the band's songs.

Listen to Marimba Chapinlandia sing "Ferrocarril de los altos"

Music courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Please click here to purchase or for more information

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