06. The Ecuadorian Popular Music Scene in Quito: Contesting the National Imaginary



1. Azucena Aymara, “Por internet” (By Internet)


Composer: Ricardo Realpe.




Una foto, una carta con mis besos
Te los mando con cariño en internet
Mil recuerdos, mil abrazos, mil caricias
Como prueba de que siempre te amaré.
Por internet, por internet
Todo mi cariño te lo mandaré
Por internet, por internet
Un millón de besos te los mandaré.
Que te llegue a cualquier parte del mundo
A España, a Europa, a Nueva York,
Más de prisa que el mismo pensamiento
Yo te envío mi amor con mucho amor.

English translation:

A photo, a letter with my kisses
I send to you with love by Internet
A thousand memories, thousand embraces, caresses thousand
As evidence that I will always love you.
By Internet, by Internet
All my love I’ll send to you
By Internet, by Internet
A million kisses I will send to you.
So that you get it to anywhere in the world
In Spain, Europe, or New York,
Faster than the same thought
I send you my love with much love.


This song is an example of an Ecuadorian tecnocumbia. The lyrics speak to the life experiences that both migrants and their families staying in Ecuador went through in the aftermath of the economic crisis in the late 1990s.  Ricardo Realpe, a well-known composer for his production of chichera music (modern sanjuanitos), composed the music and the lyrics. The YouTube video shows the lyrics in Spanish with pictures of singer Azucena Aymara on the background. The arrangement is based on synthesizer sounds imitating the sounds of the piano, accordion, trumpets, and various types of percussion. The song presents rhythmic elements of salsacumbia, and sanjuanito.

2. María de los Ángeles, “Me abandonaste” (You Left Me).


Composer: Guido Narváez.




Guido Narváez wrote the lyrics and music of this tecnocumbia in 2001, at the pick of the Ecuadorian international migration. The performer is his wife, María de los Ángeles, one of the best-known tecnocumbia singers in Ecuador. Tecnocumbia singers normally perform on stage to the accompaniment of recording tracks, which are made in a studio using synthesizer sounds and disco beats elements to underscore its danceable character. The video shows clips of María de los Ángeles performing in outdoor venues and clubs. She wears the typical tecnocumbia female singer’s attire: high-heel long boots, tied sequined tops, and short skirts.


3. Hermanos Miño-Naranjo , “Tú y yo” (You and Me)


Singers: Hermanos Miño–Naranjo (Miño–Naranjo Brothers: Danilo and Eduardo). Composer: Francisco Paredes Herrera. Lyrics: Manuel Coello.



Lyrics (first stanza):

Ingenuamente pones en tu balcón florido
La nota más romantic de esta tarde de lluvia
Voy a hilar mi nostalgia, del sol que se ha dormido
En la seda fragante de tu melena rubia.
Hay  un libro de versos en tus manos de luna
En el libroun poema que se deshoja en rosas
Tiendes la vista al cielo y en tus ojos hay una
Devoción infinita para mirar las cosas.
Tiembla en tus labios rojos la emoción de un poema
Yo, cual Viejo neurotic, seguiré con mi tema
En esta tarde enferma de cansancioy de lluvia.

English translation:

Innocently in your flowery balcony you offer
The most romantic note on this rainy afternoon
I will spin my nostalgia from the sun that has set
in the fragrant silk of your long blond hair.
There is a book of verses in your moonlike hands
In the book a poem that is being stripped into rose petals
You turn your gaze toward the sky and in your eyes there is
An infinite devotion to look at things.
The emotion of a poem trembles in your red lips
Like an old neurotic, I will continue with my theme
On this afternoon that is sick with weariness and rain.


The pasillo is often regarded as the musical symbol of the Ecuadorian national identity. Based on a triple meter with a waltz-derived rhythm, the pasillo is often described as a poem set to music. It is usually sung in parallel thirds and with the accompaniment of a guitar and requinto (small guitar). This YouTube video shows a live performance in a theater from Quito, with the addition of an electric bass guitar. Many Ecuadorians today regard the pasillo as an old national music (música nacional antigua), unlike the modern sanjuanitos and tecnocumbias, which they regard as danceable national music (música nacional bailable).

4. Ángel Guaraca, “Voy sin rumbo”.


Composer and singer: Ángel Guaraca.




Voy sin rumbo buscando un amor (bis)
Voy sin saber el final de mi destino (bis)
No me odies no me culpes más 
Pues ya pagué el precio de tu cariño.
Si quieres irte, puedes hacerlo
No te detengo, ni te suplico
Sólo le pido al ser divino 
Que te castigue como merece.

English translation:

I aimlessly looking for a love (bis)
I do not know the end of my destination (bis)
Don’t hate me, don’t blame me more
Because I already paid the price of your affection. 
If you want to leave, you can do it
I don’t stop you, nor beg you
I only ask to the divine
To punish you as you deserve.


This is the type of Ecuadorian popular music that the elites stigmatize as “chichera music” a label that underscores its indigenous roots. Ángel Guaraca composed this song using melodic and rhythmic elements of the sanjuanito, the most popular indigenous musical genre in Ecuador. Like tecnocumbia singers, Guaraca sings to the accompaniment of a recording track produced with synthesizer sounds. Guaraca starts his song in Quichua, the most spoken indigenous language in Ecuador; then he continues singing in Spanish. The lyrics make reference to a breakup in a couple’s relationship from the man’s perspective. Spoken words in the middle of the song are a common feature for “chichera music.”