Music of Nicaragua is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish, influences. Musical instruments include the marimba and others that are common across Central America. Pop music includes Cuban, Brazilian, Mexican and Panamanian performers, as well as those from Europe and the United States.
Nicaraguans enjoy their local artist's music but also enjoy music from around the world. They enjoy the Dominican Republic's bachata and merengue, Jamaica's reggae, Panama's reggaeton and Colombia's Cumbia among other genres including pop. Among the younger crowds, heavy metal and rock have become very popular.
Nicaraguan music is a mixture of different cultures from indigenous tribes, European conquerors, and slaves. Styles of music vary throughout the different regions in the country. In the Caribbean coast music with African and indigenous influence are heard, in the Pacific coast the music is considered to be a mixture of the indigenous and Spanish culture and in the North/Central region of Nicaragua the music has more of a European flavor, this is because of the significant wave of Europeans, mostly Germans, that live in the region. European influenced dances like the polka and Mazurka are also danced in this region.
The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for its Palo de Mayo, which is a lively and sensual form of dance music that is especially loud and celebrated during the Palo de Mayo festival. The Garifuna community exists in Nicaragua and is known for its popular music called Punta. Also, Soca, Reggaeton and Reggae is popular throughout the country.
Rhythms like the trova became essential to writers in the post-war scenario of the 70s and 80s. Writers used trova to express social injustice, their hope for a better tomorrow, patriotism, and ecological conservation. This, in time, became a rhythm used in artistic Nicaraguan creations, and it therefore also became part of the culture. Well known in this category is Duo Guardabarranco, formed by the brothers Salvador and Katia Cardenal.
Another popular musical genre in Nicaragua is the Chicheros, often consisting of a trumpet and trombone or other brass instruments, with additional musicians playing various percussions. This is often to be heard in private parties around the country.
The marimba of Nicaragua distinguishes itself from the other forms of marimba in Central America by the way it is played. Nicaragua's marimba is played by a sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. They are usually accompanied by a bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla (a small guitar similar to a mandolin). This music is played at social functions as a sort of background music. The marimba is made with hardwood plates, placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths. It is played with two or four hammers.
One of the most prominent composers from Nicaragua is the leonés musician José de la Cruz Mena (1874-1907). He wrote a variety of romantic waltzes that display sounds inspired by common and daily experiences, or natural scenarios. Among those compositions, we found titles such as "El Nacatamal," "Los Turcos," and "Ruinas." Besides, Mena's pieces are evocative of biblical characters and love relationship; titles like "Amores de Abraham," "Bonita Margarita," "Rosalía" are part of the most representative ones. By the time, Mena gathered popularity and influenced composers from different countries of the Americas; additionally, in the late 1800's, his name reached Asia and Europe particularly Germany and Italy inspiring Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.
Another relevant composer is Luis Abraham Delgadillo, with several symphonies, stage works, orchestral pieces, chamber music, songs, and piano music to his credit, and Camilo Zapata, creator of the Nicaraguan Sound. Erwin Krüger, creator of Barrio de Pescadores (Fisherman's District). Justo Santos creator of La Mora Limpia (A Clean Coffee Bean), considered Nicaragua's popular anthem.
Other prominent national musicians, groups, and songwriters include Lía Barrios, Marcio Brenes Mejía from Somoto, Nicaragua, Katia Cardenal, Salvador Cardenal, Marina Cárdenas, Dimension Costeña, Norma Helena Gadea, Macolla, Carlos Mejía Godoy, Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, Luis Enrique Mejía López (known as Luis Enrique), Los Mokuanes, Sergio Tapia, and Hernaldo Zúñiga.
Of the younger generation of Nicaraguan singer-songwriters there are a few notable such as Latin Grammy Nominee Ramón Armando Mejía (Perrozompopo), Arturo Vaughan, Moisés Gadea, Juan Montenegro, Junior Escobar, Elsa Basil, Cecilia Ferrer, Alejandro Carlos Mejía, Clara Grun, Noel Portocarrero, Duo Guardabarranco, Juan Solorzano, and Marcio Brenes JR.. Also, rock bands such as Necrosis, Grupo Armado, Crisis, Monroy y Surmenage, Mano de Vidrio, Contrapeso, Q69K, Kerfodermo, Resistencia, Carga Cerrada and Cecilia & The Argonauts.
Nicaragua's Caribbean coast is home to prominent reggae singers and groups such as Philip Montalban, Carlos de Nicaragua, Kali Boom, Warrior Street (Singer), Sabu, Sabu Sr. and Osberto Jerez y los Gregory's.
Also notable instrumentalists such as guitarists Tony Melendez, Arturo Vaughan, Roberto Vaughan, Eduardo Araica, Omar Suazo, Arnulfo Oviedo, Saulo Pérez, and Andrés Sánchez, marimba player Carlos Luis Mejia, drummers Jorge Lanzas, Bikentios Chávez, Matute, Johnny Metralla, Henry Palacios, and percussionist José Areas who was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the band Santana.
[CAMPOS FONSECA, Susan: "Historia compensatoria y Filosofía: Un caso centroamericano", en BABAB, Nº33, verano, España, 2008, ISSN · 1575-9385. Disponible en: http://www.babab.com/no33/susan_campos.php]