Episode 3: Peru

Google Images / Andean Instruments


Welcome to Peru. In Episode 3, Music of The World will start the journey in the heart of the Inca culture, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Peruvian music is a fusion of sounds and styles drawing on Peru’s Andean, Spanish, and African roots. Later, we will listen to the main Peruvian genres such as Andean and Creole music.


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Google Images / Machu Picchu

After hundreds of years of cultural mixing, a broad musical landscape of Peru has been created. Typical instruments used are, for example, the flute and the antara or zampoña, the box and the traditional guitar, which in Peru has also a smaller variant, known as the charango and mandolin. Central, northern and southern Andes are famous for preserving traditional rhythms and huayno parade, which is a particular characteristic from the Peruvian Andes.

Andean influences can be identified through wind instruments whereas the shape of the melodies and the African influences are best recognized in the rhythm of percussion instruments, and European influences can be heard in the harmonies of stringed instruments. For the Incas, music, dance and song were defined by the term taki, and Inca music was pentatonic. The dance, music and singing were present in all community activities or rituals. The Incas used a wide variety of musical instruments, some as the pomatinyas: little drums made of puma skin; the guayllaquepas: trumpets made of Strombus; the pinkullo: wind instrument similar to a flute; the antaras: panpipes made of different materials; the huancar or wankara: large drum used by men; the tinya: small drum used by women. Drums, usually manufactured of camelids skin but there were some made with human skin of enemies vanquished or rebel leaders. Also it is documented metal trumpets made of gold, silver and copper, as well as instruments made from bones of Andean deer or dogs.

Peruvian music is dominated by the national instrument, the charango. It was invented during the Viceroyalty of Peru by musicians imitating the Spanish vihuela. In the Canas and Titicaca regions, the charango was used in courtship rituals. After the Revolution in 1959, which built upon the Indigenismo movement, the charango was popularized among other performers. Variants include the walaycho, chillador, chinlili, and the larger and lower-tuned charangon. The cajón is a percussion instrument developed by African slaves. The cowbell may also be of African origin. The rhythms played on them are often African influenced and some percussion instruments are of non-African origin. For example, of European origin is the bombo bass drum, and of Andean origin are the wankara and tinya. In addition to the ocarina and wakrapuku, there are Peruvian wind instruments of two basic types, panpipes and flutes, both of Native Andean origin. Of the former variety, there are the siku (or zampoña) and antara. Of the latter variety, there are the pinkillo, tarka, and quena flutes. We will be listening to two groups from Lima playing Andean music such as Wayanak Inka and Lucha Reyes.



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