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Land of winds > Rhythms and styles > Rhythm | Issue 05. May.-Jun.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza


The muliza is a Peruvian rhythm which origin is still being discussed. Few people point out that it is native to the Valley of Mantaro, while many others believe that it was born in the Cerro of Pasco. Whatever its origin, the muliza appeared during the colonial times. From this time until the republican period, gold and silver-containing minerals from various mines in this region where carried by flocks of mules led by mule drivers locally known as “muleros”. The songs sung by these “muleros” gave birth to the mulizas.
These men came usually from Lima, though many of them also arrived from central and north-western Argentina, following a very busy route for mules convoys, which started in Buenos Aires, headed northwest to Córdoba, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Salta, Jujuy and Potosí and entered into Peruvian territory. The presence of Argentinean mule drivers is supported by the similarities found between the muliza and Argentinean genres such as the vidalita.
The muliza spread throughout the departmenets of Junín (provinces of Jauja, Huancayo and Tarma), Pasco and Huánuco. In the Valley of Mantaro it was usually played at the local carnivals accompanying the almost disappeared “La Calistrada”. The latter included a procession of hundreds of mule drivers dressed in their best clothes (a hat, a fine poncho of vicuna wool and a thin neckerchief tied over their neck) and playing guitars, mandolins and charangos.
Among the best known performers of mulizas we find Martina Portocarrero, Carlos Baquerizo Castro and Víctor Alberto Gil Mallma (“Picaflor de los Andes”). The mule drivers singing tradition has been portrayed in a number of popular songs across the Andes such as “Sillamula” (Aymara, Bolivia) and “Bajando pa’ Puerto Aysén (Chile). Their lonely mood as well as the many difficulties and privations they had to contend with are reflected in their melancholic compositions.

Muliza, in Wikipedia [es].
The muliza [es].
¿What is the muliza?, in El Rincón Musical Peruano [es].
The origin of the muliza [es].

Video 01. “Falsia” (traditional muliza), by Martina Portocarrero (live).
Video 02. “Camino de felicidad” (muliza played by a band), by Selecta Mucha Hermanos.
Video 03. “Ven amor” (modern muliza), by Kuyayki.
Video 04. “Muliza de Junín” (instrumental on guitar), by Javier Molina Salcedo.
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