The Charango

A Small 10 String Lute

Originating in South America

Alma Del Sur CD Cover

Cave Hand

Alma Del Sur. Various artists including Ancient Future.
Narada Collection ND-63908. CD- $16.98:

iTunes (Download Quality)

Featured Sound File

El Gatillo y el Armadillo from Alma Del Sur. >YTmusic.

FREE MP3 (excerpt). 928K.

The charango is a small ten string lute that originated in South America. The back of the instrument is traditionally fashioned from an armadillo. When the Spaniards came to South America, they brought the vihuela (an ancestor of the guitar) with them. The native people liked the vihuela, but lacked the technology to shape the wood in that manner. However, there was a convenient resource available to them: armadillo shells. Thus the charango was born. It was a happy day for music, but a sad day for armadillos. But it is a rare creature that makes music after death. Legend has it that the armadillo has to go to a conservatory for five years to study to become a charango.

Today, many of the best charangos have wooden backs instead of employing the armadillo shell.

Charango Tuning:

The charango is tuned in five pairs of strings:

Charango Tuning

Recommended Records Featuring Charango

The following recordings by the world music group Ancient Future include the charango in unusual settings:

Additional Resources

Skype School

Skype online music lesson guitar pick icon carved in Bali for Matthew Montfort

Further instruction on this material is available through private Skype lessons with the author, Matthew Montfort.

More information about learning to play the charango can be found through the Ancient Future World Fusion Music Links Page. Pay careful attention to the listed world music instrument and instruction catalogs such as Lark in the Morning.