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Music in Costa Rica

Music in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica every art expression is loved and appreciated and music is not the exception. Since colonization, rhythms and genres have come from the whole world but before that our indigenous people also had their own music and we currently produce a lot of music.


This leads to fusion and mixes of the different kinds of music and some autochthonous genres. 


Costa Rican traditional music can be classified as the following:


  • Costa Rican Folklore is similar to the vals but a little bit slower and with simpler instruments like the Marimba and acoustic guitars. 


  • Tica Ballad and Boleros are mostly romantic and heartbreak songs played by tríos (3 musicians with string musical instruments). These genres got first to Cuba from Europe where they did their fusions with African rhythms and that’s what got to Costa Rica.
  • Limon Calypso has roots in Trinidad and Tobago and then Jamaica to finally reach Puerto Limon. and it came to stay since is such a happy and contagious rhythm. 
  • Even if Corridos are originally from Mexico, Costa Rican artists have made a couple of them. Mostly taking Mexican music and changing the lyrics of the original songs.
  • Coming with high class Poland migrants, Costa Rica met the Mazurca and the Polka. They were very popular in elegant dancing clubs of the 19th century.
  • Originally from Guanacaste, the Parrandera (or Tambito) is a high speed music style played by Cimarronas. These are great for public festivities and are sometimes accompanied by Mascaradas.
  • From the Dominican Republic, Punto came to Cuba, Panama and Costa Rica and has been declared the national dance besides being a musical genre. Normally, it doesn’t have lyrics but people will say Bombas ( short poetry verse) when music stops and when the music is going, people dances. 
  • Swing came from Colombia but in Costa Rica there have been some modifications and has developed more as a dance style than a musical genre in the country.
  • Tango, an Argentinian rhythm, didn’t become popular in Costa Rica but it is included in modern Costa Rican songs.




You need to keep in mind that Costa Rica is a very joyful country. Ticos love to party and that’s reflected in the carnavales.


Imagine a public place, like a street or a park (or both) filled with colors, music, dances, food and artisan handicrafts stands. Well, Costa Rica have those in every province once or twice a year. 


In February of every year, in Puntarenas, there is a huge Carnival called Carnaval de la Reina and is a 7 days lasting activity that attracts thousands of people. They do outdoor concerts, fishing tournaments, mascarades, parades and night parties from monday to friday.


Limon don’t stay behind if carnivals are what we talk about! Lasting 7 days too, between vibrant and colorful Caribbean style foods, parades, music and more this carnival is around Culture’s day (October 12th). And afro culture is celebrated and cherished.


Festivities in Guanacaste are wild and are related to Virgin Mary and other catholic saints.


Any one of them you might want to go is guaranteed to grant you great experiences and you can take a piece of Pura Vida´s spirit with you. 


Karen Ebanks

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