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Nine years ago, Olga Carrasco Lepijina learned to play the chinchín (a unique bass drum-type percussion instrument popular with urban street performers in Chile), thanks to her great teacher Patricio Toledo Riquelme, known as Pepa. Today, she is part of the nearly 20 women who dedicate themselves to this expression of their folklore at a national level, participating since 2015 in the Transatlantic Ensemble of Chilean Folk, a musical group from the Valparaíso region.
The history of organ grinders in Chile dates to the end of the 19th century when its practitioners began to appear in the hills of Valparaíso, after the German José Strup arrived bringing several Bacigalupo barrel organs.
First appearing around 1920, the Chinchinero is an original character from Chile who accompanies the barrel organ with percussion and dance. They are the ones who hit a bass drum with rods they carry on their back, play the cymbals fastened to the drum with a strap, perform pirouettes and dance. And at the end of each presentation, they are the ones who ask for a monetary contribution.
While the organ grinder exists in other parts of the world, the Chinchinero does not. The latter is a true heritage character who recalls the childhood of many Chileans, in neighborhoods throughout the country. You can learn more about the Chinchinero in a new educational audiovisual capsule titled “El tambor que baila” (The Drum that Dances).