La Guardia Vieja,” translated as “the old guard,” was a time period in Peru approximately from 1900-1920 in which as a result of the combination of European, Afro-Peruvian, and indigenous musical elements the vals criollo emerged among the public. The music is characterized by the use of triple metre, sometimes compound duple time, and the lyrics consist of verses in strophic form with intercalated choruses.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the vals criollo became the main musical expression of the urban working class, with its lyrics reflecting their cultural personality, conflicts, and value systems. Composers such as Felipe Pinglo Alva, Laureano Martinez, Carlos Saco, Filomeno Ormeño Belmonte, and Alicia Maguiña enriched and drove the music at the time.
n the 1940s, groups like Los Trovadores del Perú, Los Chalanes del Perú and later Los Morochucos y Los Embajadores Criollos created a unique sound that made the now called Vals Criollo and music more distinct from the European Waltz and other dances of South America such as the Tango. By the 1950s, popular composer and singer Chabuca Granda helped in making the music widely known throughout Latin America, and the name Vals Peruano in time became used to refer to the dance in countries outside of Peru. In the Argentine tango community a special style of tango developed, adapted to the music of vals criollo, and commonly known simply as vals.