PERU TRAVEL PLANNER
Latin America's oldest musical traditions are those of the
Amerindians of the Andes. Their music is best known outside these countries
through the characteristic panpipes of poncho-clad folklore groups. However,
there's a multitude of rhythms and popular musics found here deserve a lot more
recognition, incuding huayno and chicha, still relatively unknown abroad, as
well as the distinct coastal tradition of Afro-Peruvian music, rooted in black
slaves brought to work in the mines.
For most people outside Latin America the sound of the Andes is that of bamboo
panpipes and quena flutes. What is most remarkable is that these instruments
have been used to create music in various parts of this large area of mountains
- which stretch 4500 miles from Venezula down to southernmost Chile - since
before the time of the Incas. Pre-Conquest Andean instruments - conch shell
trumpets, shakers which used nuts for rattles, ocarinas, wind instruments and
drums - are ever present in museum collections. And the influence of the Inca
empire means that the Andean region and its music spreads far beyond the
mountains themselves. It can be defined partly through ethnicity, partly through
language - Quechna (currently spoken by over six million people) and Aymara ,
both of which are spoken alongside Spanish and other Amerindian languages.
The dominant areas of Andean culture are Peru , Ecuador and Bolivia, the
countries with the largest indigenous Amerindian populations in South America.
Here, in rural areas, highly traditional Andean music, probably little different
from pre-Inca times, still thrives today at every kind of celebration and
ritual. But beyond this is a huge diversity of music, differing widely not only
between countries but between individual communities. Andean people tend to
identify themselves by the specific place they come from: in music, the villages
have different ways of making and tuning instruments and composing tunes, in the
same way as they have distinctive weaving designs, ways of dressing or wearing
their hats. Use of different scales involving four, five, six and seven notes
and different singing styles are also found from place to place, tied to
specific ritual occasions and the music which goes with them.
Andean music can be divided roughly into three types. Firstly, that which is of
indigenous origin , found mostly amongst rural Amerindian peoples still living
very much by the seasons with root Amerindian beliefs; secondly music of
European origin , and thirdly mestizo music , which continues to fuse the
indigenous with European in a whole host of ways. In general, Quechna people
have more vocal music than the Aymara.
Written by Jan Fairley, with thanks to Thomas Turino and Raúl Romero, Gilka Wara
Céspedes, Martin Morales and Margaret Bullen. Adapted from The Rough Guide to
World Music, Vol 2.
Panpipes , known by the Aymara as siku, by the Quechna as antara and by the
Spanish as zampoña, are ancient instruments and archeologists have unearthed
panpipes tuned to a variety of scales. While modern panpipes...
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Afro-Peruvian music has its roots in the communities of black slaves brought to
work in the mines along the Peruvian coast. As such, it's a fair way from the
Andes, culturally and geographically. However, as it developed, particularly in
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Chicha , the fermented maize beer, has given its name to a new and hugely
popular brew of Andean tropical music - a fusion of urban cumbia (local versions
of the original Colombian dance), traditional highland huayno, and...
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Many performers have achieved mass appeal and recording contracts in Peru and
can support themselves solely by their work as musicians. Nationally celebrated
performers include Florcita de Pisaq (a huayno vocalist), Pastorita...
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