Gustavo Santaolalla: Iguazu (a variation)
Photo by Diego Rezende on Unsplash


This is an arrangement of Gustavo Santaolalla’s most famous composition, Iguazu. In the late 90’s, as both a musician and producer, Santaolalla was already an icon in Latin alternative music. His instrumental piece, Iguazu, was used to great effect in the 1999 Russell Crowe film, The Insider. Years later (2006) it was used in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s, Babel.

It was this song that kicked off Gustavo Santaolalla’s 3rd act as a film composer:

2000 Amores Perros

2003 21 Grams

2004 The Motorcycle Diaries

2005 Brokeback Mountain (Academy Award)

2006 Babel (Academy Award)

The Babel variation of Iguazu has a pretty acoustic guitar intro. This version is known as Deportation/Iguazu.

I’ve been messing around with this piece for nearly 20 years. The original is played solely on a Ronroco – a small Andean guitar, similar to a ukulele. Usually, I can emulate Santaolalla’s Ronroco sound exactly with an alternate guitar tuning or a capo. Not with Iguazu. Any attempt I made was a disservice to the original piece.

A month ago, I decided to follow the thread of the Deportation guitar melody used in the Babel variation of the song. I then imagined what Santaolalla might play if he created a version of Iguazu for The Last of Us Part II. What if I played the song as though it was written on a guitar in the first place?

Iguazu is so meaningful to me that this “variation” might be a sacrilege. At the very least, it’s an answer to a question that no one asked. However, as a fan, I had to give it a shot.

You might also like to play…

Gustavo Santaolalla: Leyendo en el Hospital (The Motorcycle Diaries) + TAB

Gustavo Santaolalla: Morning (August: Osage County) + TAB

Gustavo Santaolalla: Brokeback Mountain 1 + TAB

How to play Iguazu (a variation) | fingerstyle guitar

The guitar tab for Iguazu is beautifully written across 3 pages and played straight though. You’ll take care to repeat the sections as indicated in the guitar tab. Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

My song structure looks like this:

Intro 2x, Verse 2x, Chorus, Post Chorus

Intro 2x, Verse 2x, Chorus, Post Chorus.

**Gustavo Santaolalla: Iguazu (a variation)

Iguazu is played in standard tuning. However, every position seems to sound good: capoed, detuned, etc.