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Classic group Andean music
Land of winds > Perfomers > Classic group | Issue 04. Mar.-Apr.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza


Markama is an Argentinean group that first began performing in 1975 in the province of Mendoza. Their name comes from the Aymara language and means “your village”. Curiously enough, the group states on its website that its name would come from a Quechua sentence meaning “to the village” (what, actually, should be written as “Markaman” to indicate “[going] to your village”). Linguistic misunderstandings aside, from the very beginning Markama has been devoted to Latin American music in general and Andean in particular, with a special interest in Argentinean and Bolivian folklore. Well-known in their homeland, the group also gained international renown by touring abroad, visiting the United States in 1980, Europe in 1985 and Latin America in 2005.
In 1977, they launched their first LP, “Markama vol.1”, featuring songs like “Yo pobre, yo huérfano” (sang in Quechua language), which would be among their favourite ones in the years to come, and several more by other composers such as Ernesto Cavour (“Paja brava”, “Danza aymara”). One year later it was released their second work, “Markama vol.2”, including famous tracks such as “Variaciones sobre el Carnaval de Venecia”, an exercise of virtuosism on the quena by the band’s wind player, Swedish Lars Nilsson. “Markama” (1979) was their third recording with such hits as “Cueca larga”, “Soplen sikuris”, “Danza de las estrellas”, “Carnaval viticheño” and “Hoy estoy aquí”. “Umbral del Sol”, their fourth album, appeared in 1981 and featured rhythms not included in Andean repertoire such as “El alcatraz” or the habanera “El cuarterón”. “Mi antiguo canto” came to light the following year, a mix of very traditional songs (“Mascarita”, “Funerales de Atahualpa”) and modern compositions (“Brasilerinho”). And in 1983 it was the turn for “Azul Tiahuanaco”, a work with a strong Andean flavour including “El cóndor pasa”, “La fiesta de San Benito”, “Estudio para charango” o “Señora chichera”.
“Al pueblo”, released in 1985, featured several songs by their own authorship and some others from the Latin American song repertoire (“El diablo suelto”, “Samba landó”, “Nguillatún”). Their following album “Quitapesares”, launched later that year, saw Markama undergoing a major change in both the group’s original line-up and their musical direction.
In 1991 the group celebrated their 15th anniversary with the release of a live album titled “15 años no es nada”, including some songs by others (“A pedir su mano”, by Juan Luis Guerra, or “Pampa Lirima”, by Illapu) as well as by them (e.g. “Chascosita”, “Del cañaveral”, “Ando coqueando”). “Gualicho”, recorded in 1998, reflects a significant degree of continuity in Markama’s selection of Latin American music, from the singer-songwriter León Gieco (“Camino de llamas”) to much more traditional songs (“Cuequita de los coyas”). At that time the group included only two members from the original line-up: the charango player and composer Archi Zambrano (Bolivia), and the guitarist and wind player Juan Alberto Ávalos (Argentina).
2001 was the time for the album “Aguas claras” after the famous song by the Bolivian group K’ala Marka included in this recording. Six years later they launched “Danzas argentinas”, a collection of rhythms and styles from Argentinean folklore dedicated to the dance academies of the country. Finally, Markama’s last production, “Ama al mundo”, entirely composed by their actual wind player Pablo Salcedo, was released in 2010 and can be free downloaded from the group’s official website.
Throughout their career this emblematic band has shifted from being rooted in tradition (though insisting in being also innovative and imaginative at the same time) to focussing their attention on experimental folklore, playing pompous wind instruments and adding a modernistic touch to their repertoire, since mid-90s. However, despite this transformation, many Markama’s unforgettable compositions remain a benchmark for today’s Latin American folklore.

Official website [es]
Link CDs []
Video 01. “Canción y huayno”. With Mercedes Sosa.
Video 02. “Samba landó”. With Rubén Rada.
Video 03. “Zamba del awayu”.
Video 04. “Ama al mundo”.
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