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Payada in a pulpería by Carlos Morel.
Juan Arroyo, Argentine payador, c. 1870.
Payador playing in his rancho, c. 1890s.

The payada is competitive composing and singing of verses native to Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brasil, and parts of Paraguay, also called paya in Chile. It is a performance of improvised ten-line verse called décimas usually accompanied by guitar. The performer is called a "payador", and in performances two or more payadores will compete to produce the most eloquent verse, each answering questions posed by the other, often insulting. The durations of these verse duels can be exceedingly long, often many hours, and they end when one payador fails to respond immediately to his opponent.[1] Musical styles often used in the payada are the cifra and the milonga. [2]


The work of Bartolomé Hidalgo (born in Montevideo in 1788) is considered a precedent of this form of art in the Río de la Plata. Hidalgo is regarded as the first gaucho poet. His birthdate, August 24, was established as the "Day of the Payador" in Uruguay.[3][4]

In Argentina, July 23 was established as the "Day of the Payador" in commemoration of the famous payada where Juan Nava and Gabino Ezeiza competed. This payada was held in Paysandú in 1884, and Ezeiza was proclaimed winner with the improvisation of his famous Salute to Paysandú. A recording of this song is the only existing record of Ezeiza's voice.[5]

The first registered payador was Simón Méndez (nicknamed Guasquita), a soldier who fought in the British invasions of the River Plate.[6] Both in Argentina and Uruguay, the payada is considered part of the "gauchesca" culture. Santos Vega (to whom writer Rafael Obligado dedicated his most famous poem) is considered "the" payador par excellence, with successors such as Gabino Ezeiza, José Betinoti, Carlos Molina, Abel Soria, Julio Gallego, Gabino Sosa Benítez, Cayetano Daglio, among others.

The payada has also been parodied by the comedy-musical group Les Luthiers in their Payada de la vaca.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R.Fernández Manzano y otros: El trovo de la Alpujarra. Ed. Centro de Documentación Musical de Andalucía, 1992, pág. 27
  2. ^ The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music, Volume 1 By Dale Alan Olsen, Daniel Edward Sheeh p. 398
  3. ^ Uruguayan Law 16.764
  4. ^ "Especial del Día del Payador" on
  5. ^ "Salute a Paysandú" by Gabino Ezeiza on Youtube
  6. ^ "La payada, un arte que cautiva y sorprende", La Nación (Buenos Aires), 20 Mar 1999
  7. ^ Payada de la vaca on Les Luthiers official web