NUMEROUS FORMS of folk music exist across Venezuela. The oldest of them were not created exclusively to be listened to, but were linked directly to particular social activities. Some pieces formed part of religious or festive occasions; others were composed to be danced to during popular celebrations; and work songs were often sung as people carried out routine, daily tasks. In spite of the changes in patterns of life that have occurred, a significant proportion of this music is regularly performed today, for it remains an important component of communal life throughout the country.
European dances, such as the minuet, the polka, and the mazurka, were firmly implanted in Venezuela during the colonial period, and local composers later produced their own distinct versions of such forms. Many fine Venezuelan waltzes and polkas have resulted, for example. Some dance rhythms of Spanish origin, like the malagueña and the jota played in Anzoátegui state, have changed so much that they are now almost unrecognizable as the original European form. A similar process of development occurred with the songs that were carried to the Americas by the Spanish, such as the Christmas carols (which, as mentioned in chapter 3, evolved into a distinctive form known as the aguinaldo in Venezuela).
Throughout the colonial period, each region of the country produced its own new varieties of music and song resulting from the fusion of the Spanish musical tradition with those of the indigenous communities and of the African slaves. In villages in the interior of some states, music of indigenous