Traditional Guatemalan Musical Instruments

Traditional Guatemalan Musical Instruments

In the photo above you can observe several percussion traditional Guatemalan musical instruments like chinchines (the black rattles made from gourds, seeds and other objects), tortuga (turtle shell), shellfish shell, drum, sonajas (rattles) and the omnipresent marimba (which you saw yesterday).

Guatemala has a rich assortment of traditional musical instruments which are used in the paying and creation of traditional Maya music like the La Suite Maya Kekchi “El Paabanc” (Mayan Kekchi Suite “El Paabanc”). The word Maya Q’eqchi’ (Kekchi) “Paabanc” means to reaffirm my beliefs (reafirmar mis creencias) according to webpage El Paabanc de Cobán {ñ}. If you can read Spanish, I recommend that visit the web page El Paabanc de Cobán {ñ} to understand all the rituals and mysticism behind one of Guatemala’s most famous Mayan musical suites.

Below, I am going to share two samples of La Suite Maya Kekchi “El Paabanc”
played by the Marimba Nacional De Concierto (Concert National Marimba Orchestra). Even though I have said in the past I wish I like marimba music, I can tell you, with out guilt or shame, that I make an exception for the La Suite Maya Kekchi “El Paabanc” played by the Marimba Nacional De Concierto. If you come to Guatemala, please make an effort to purchase this compact disc; you won’t regret it.

Baile De La Catarina from La Suite Maya Kekchi “El Paabanc”
played by Marimba Nacional De Concierto

Xojol Quej O Danza De Los Venados from La Suite Maya Kekchi “El Paabanc” played by Marimba Nacional De Concierto

Of course, you can browse the Music category for more samples of marimba music and background information regarding this percussion instrument.

© 2008 – 2016, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • coltrane_lives

    Love this photo and also the commentary on the instruments and music. I remember the first time I learned the word for maracas…”chinchines”…I’m afraid I didn’t pronounce it properly and unbeknownst to me made a female friend blush. I’ve since learned how to pronounce it properly (for health reasons, that is). You Spanish speakers know my blunder, no doubt. Argghh!!!

  • Thank you for the beautiful songs to accompany my visit today. I also feel bad for not really liking marimba music, but yes, that suite is a gorgeous exception. The percussion has a very indigenous feel to the beat, and on the second listen, I hear layers of flutes I didn’t notice the first time as I was focussed on the marimba melody. As if your photos weren’t beautiful enough, you bless us with interesting info and music, too! What a great start to your 3rd year!

  • Raquel

    Gracias! Gracias! Gracias Rudy!
    You have no idea how wonderful it was to hear that music! I closed my eyes and instantly I was back in Guatemala. The sun was beaming down, Agua in the distance, and the sounds of life swirled around me. I could almost even smell it!
    Thank you for giving me the chance to go back for a moment, even if only in my heart.

  • Binasaw

    my uncle said Guatemala is his favorite country in the world.In the school the teacher  said everybody have to choose one country that u like,but i don’t know what country i gona choose, i came home i told my uncle about it and he said do my country Guatemala.Now i had Guatemala is the country that i want to do and now i am doing Guatemala.I had look everything about guatemala it’s really cool country like my uncle said.i love it i hope oneday i can go to visit Guatemala.

  • kiki lilok

    love this information on this article topic best ever because i have to do social studies project and its all about guatemala

  • Where can we see these instruments in Action?

    I’m in Guatemala right now and I would like to meet with some of the native Maya here. Do you know where I can go?

    • Luis


      You can see those instruments on La Calle del Arco on some Saturdays and Sundays. They are played by a kid who is part of a musical group that plays on that very popular street. The group members are the dad and his four young sons.

      You can see a video of them on previous post:

      They sell CDs with their music.

      • Thanks Luis for responding to Dotan’s questions. Great reply, I couldn’t have done it better.

    • Hi Dotan, it looks like Luis already gave a very good answer. Let us know if you need further assistance.

  • Marcelo

    Thx for putting this up 😉

    • De nada. That’s what we do here. Come back soon Marcelo!