Charrúa people used wooden drums,
flutes, seashells to play music. Other folk musical instruments are
Tango has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The modern field of
tango music and
dance arose in
Argentina as well as
Carlos Gardel, the great tango singer, was born in France and raised in Buenos Aires, but in 1920 after becoming famous he registered his birthplace as being in
Tacuarembó, Uruguay, probably to avoid problems with French authorities during an upcoming tour of France.
 Other Uruguayan tango musicians, among the most important names, were director
Francisco Canaro and his violinist
Modesto Ocampo. Also the singer
Julio Sosa. One of the best-known tangos in the world, "
La Cumparsita", was written by Uruguayan composer
Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. Modern tango includes the late poet
Horacio Ferrer, who contributed lyrics to several of the most important tango works by Argentinian composer
Astor Piazzolla; celebrated singer-songwriter
Malena Muyala and
Valeria Lima. The Uruguayan-Argentinian band
Bajofondo is a multi-award winning project which aims to create a more contemporary version of tango and other musical styles of the Río de la Plata region.
Juan Campodónico's Campo consists of a mix of musical styles, including tango, which released album was nominated for a
MTV Europe Music Awards, the
Candombe has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Candombe originates from the
Río de la Plata, where African
slaves brought their
percussion music. The word tango then referred to the traditional drums and dances, as well as the places where dancing occurred. Candombe rhythms are produced by drum ensembles, known as
cuerdas, which include dozens of drummers and feature three drum sizes: tambor repique, tambor chico and tambor piano, known as
tambores de candombe.
Popular candombe musicians include
Hugo Fattoruso and
Rubén Rada. Fattoruso has been a longtime part of both the Uruguayan and
Latin American music scene, including as a member of rock band
Los Shakers, and
The Hot Blowers, as well as Brazilian
Milton Nascimento and the
Latin jazz and
Acid Jazz group
Opa. It was in the 1970s the most important Latin band in the United States according to the magazine Down Beat.
The Afro-Uruguayan rhythm Candombe has played a significant role in Uruguayan culture for over 200 years. The rhythm is created by the use of three drums (tambores); tambor piano, tambor chico and tambor repique. The piano is the largest in size and the lowest in pitch of the three tambores. The rhythmic base of Candombe, its function similar to that of the upright or electric bass. The chico (literally "small") is the smallest in size and highest in pitch of the three tambores, serving as the rhythmic pendulum. The tambor repique (ricochet) embellishes Candombe's rhythm with improvised phrases. Each of the three tambores is played with an open hand (mano) and a stick (palo) in the other. At a minimum, one of each of the three tambores must be present.
The purest form of Candombe takes place each Sunday night on the streets of Montevideo, where many drummers assemble, playing their drums under the moonlit sky.
Isla de Flores is the main street that joins Cuareim and Ansina, Candombe's two main social groups. For over a century spontaneous cuerdas have paraded on this street, and continue to do so today (Isla de Flores is also known by its other name, Carlos Gardel). As the cuerda slowly makes its way through the narrow streets of Montevideo, this contagious rhythm takes with it all in its path, surrounded on all sides by the neighborhood people moving their bodies to the rhythm of Candombe. At intervals the cuerda will pause, and by setting a fire, will heat their drums' skins for tuning purposes.
The milonga was a South American style of song that was popular in the 1870s. The milonga was derived from an earlier style of singing known as the 'payada de contrapunto'.
The song was set to a lively 2
4 tempo, and often included musical improvisation. Over time, dance steps and other musical influences were added, eventually giving rise to the
tango. Milonga music is still used for dancing, but the milonga dancing of today is derivative of tango.
Murga is a kind of Montevidean
musical theatre for
Carnival celebrations. A traditional murga group comprises a chorus and three percussionists and this is the type of murga performed on stages at Carnival. The singers perform in harmony using up to five vocal parts. Vocal production tends to be nasal and loud with little variation in volume. The percussion instruments, derived from the European military band, are the bombo (a shallow bass drum worn at the waist and played horizontally), redoblante (snare drum) and platillos (cymbals). The two most important pieces of the performance are the opening song (saludo) and the exit song (retirada or despedida). These get played on the radio during the