Music is one of the single most identifiable expressions of Paraguay.  This music came about as the creation of Paraguayan nationals, around the middle of the 19th Century.  Polka, which adopted the name from a European beat, is the most typical type of music and has relatively different versions including the Galopa, the Krye’ÿ and the Canción Paraguaya, or Paraguayan Song.  The first two are faster and more upbeat than the standard polka, and the third, a slight bit slower and melancholic.  Other popular styles include the Purahéi Jahe’o and the Compuesto, which generally tell sad, epic or love stories.

The Polka usually is based on poetic lyrics, but there are some emblematic pieces of Paraguayan music that exist, such as Pájaro Campana, or Songbird, by Félix Pérez Cardozo.

Paraguayan harp

Guarania is the second best known Paraguayan music style and was created by the great musician José Asunción Flores in 1925, with a slower beat that admirably expresses the melancholy mood of this Paraguayan man.  When this new style achieved great success, the musician advanced his innovation even more and created the symphonic guarania, examples of which include the well known pieces Mburicaó and Panambí Verá.  His most ambitious compositions were the symphonic poems such as María de la Paz and Ñanderuvusú.

Paraguayan music depends largely upon two instruments: the guitar and the harp, whose first copies were brought by the conquistadors and found their own style in the country.  Féliz Pérez Cardoso was the artist that brought the Paraguayan harp to international fame, along with Digno García, Luis Bordón, and Lorenzo Leguizamón.  Among the best contemporary artists are Nicolasito Caballero, César Cataldo and Ismael Ledesma, the latter of which is a great innovator of harp music.

The guitar found an illustrious composer and interpreter in Augustín Pío Barrios (also known as "Mangoré"), dubbed by critics as the “Paganini of the Guitar,” who created highly difficult compositions such as La Catedral (The Cathedral), Las Abejas (The Bees), and Danza Paraguaya (Paraguayan Dance). 

Since the 40s, many Paraguayan musicians, who could be called the country’s best, suffered exile or fled because of the difficult situation in the country. Together with José Asunción Flores an Agustín Barrios, other noteworthy musicians include Herminio Giménez, Carlos Lara Bareiro, and Francisco Alvarenga.

Among the musicians that remained in the country, Remberto Giménez founded the Symphony Orchestra of the City of Asunción and Juan Carlos Moreno González created the Paraguayan Zarzuela. Other important late writers  include Florentín Jiménez, Luis Cañete, Nicolás Pérez González and Luis Szarán.  Among the great folk music composers are Mauricio Cardozo Ocampo, Agustín Barboza, Herminio Jiménez, Demetrio Ortiz and the four-string guitarist, Efrén Echeverría.

Since the 70s, Paraguayan music has shown signs of renewal and the New Artist movement and the Advancement of Oscar Nelson Safuán have come about.  The New Artist movement had prolific creators such as Maneco Galeano and Carlos Noguera, and standout interpreters such as the group Ñamandú and the group Sembrador. In another experimental line that combines different musical languages, you find the musicians René Ayala and Rolanco Chaparro.  Closer to the more traditional line of music, you must mention the four-string guitarist Juan Cancio Barreto and the the duo of Vocal Dos, among others.

Since the 80s, there is evidence of great activity in refined music, with new names that are gaining recognition:  Daniel Luzco, Saúl Gaona and Diego Sánchez Haase.  The folk guitar has had two new interpreters of particularly refined technique:  Berta Rojas and Luz María Bobadilla, who together created the National Symphony Orchestra and various childrens orchestras.  A growing national rock movement and the new “Urban Social Song” hold their own in the rich current-day panorama of Paraguayan music.