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Peru Music

Like its geography, its cuisine and its various ethnicities, Peruvian music is very diverse. Much of Peru's music is derived from Andean, Andalusian Spanish and African roots. Modern Peruvian music and Amazon influenced music is also common in Peru.

The Pre-Hispanic Andean musicians mostly used wind instruments such as the quena, the pinkillo, the erke, the antara or siku (also called zampoña), the pututo or pototo, etc. They also used diverse membranophone instruments such as the tinya (hand drum), the wankar, instrument of big dimensions, the pomatinyas - made of puma's skin-, and the runatinyas - made of human's skin-. The runatinya was also used in battles.

With the Spanish conquest, new instruments arrived like harps, guitars, vihuelas, bandurrias, lutes, etc. Due to these intruments, new crossbred Andean instruments appeared. These crossbred instruments are still in used nowadays: the Andean harp and the charango. The sounding box of the charango is made of the armadillo's shell.

The cultural crossbreeding did not limit itself to the contact of Indigenous and European cultures. The African slaves' contribution was demonstrated in rhythms and percussion instruments. This influence is visible in musical forms like festejo, zamacueca, etc.

Coastal music is rooted in the haciendas and the callejones of cities such as Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Tumbes and Ica. It involves a creole version of the Spanish guitar and the famous Peruvian instrument Cajon drum.

Andean music is rooted in the traditional native music, the Spanish orquestal and European Church musicals. The southern Andean region is famous for the Huayno, a mestizo happy chant that involves Charango guitar, beautifully-toned lamenting vocals and sometimes the Andean Harp. The Huayno Ayacuchano is probably the most famous of its styles since it is played on creole and even Spanish guitar, adding to its feel an even a more soulful and romantic expression.

Cusco, Puno and Apurimac have a more pure native feel to their music whom even incorporate violins. Famous tuens are the Muliza and Valicha Cusqueña, whom are also very romantic and melancolic. Other Andean rhythms involve a fusion of European Church music and Huaynos such as the known song "El Condor Pasa", a traditional Peruvian song popularized in the United States by the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel and featured in the movie "The Graduate". The original composition consists of a Yaravi, followed by an Inca "Pasacalle" and a Huayno fugue, three traditional Inca rhythms.

Jorge Bravo de Rueda's famous "Virgenes del Sol" was popularized in 1951 by Yma Sumac.

Arequipa is region that probably that resembles best the mixing of the Spanish and the Andean cultures. Arequipa city is the proud creator of the famous Yaravi, a melancholy style that involves Spanish or creole guitar that is sung A Capella. It has been popularized to the rest of the Andean comunities after the Pacific War in honor of Mariano Melgar (local hero). The music evokes to the solitude of the mountains, the miners and the Andean farmer. It is a mix of gypsy Zards and Huayno.

The Huaylas of the central Andes, by contrast, is a cheery, rhythmic style mostly popular around Cerro de Pasco, Huanuco Huaraz.

The coast has a different feel to its music than its Andean counterpart. It is called musica criolla and its rooted in a fusion that evokes to traditional Spanish, Gypsy (Roma People) and African influence.

It combines traditional European rhythms, strong gypsy emotional flair deriving from Flamenco and eastern European Zards, and also African based chorus and percussion.

This mixture is rooted especially in the central and northern coast, and has provided the wide range of dance and musical styles we hear today. Lima for example, is most well known musical style Peruvian Waltz known elsewhere as valse peruano and valsesito peruano. The rhythm involves a singer, a chorus, creole Guitarr, Peruvian Cajon and spoon players. It is widely popularised by the great Chabuca Granda, who is considered the most important composer of coastal creole music, with such songs as La Flor de La Canela, Fina Estampa, and Jose Antonio. Other commonly known peruvian valse tunes are Alma Corazon y Vida, Odiame, Propiedad Privada, El Plebeyo, and El Rosario de Mi Madre, some of these songs are are twisted to Bolero or Salsa version by Caribbean artists.

Afro Peruvian music is commonly performed by duos of creole guitars, the Cajon, Cajita and the peculiar Quijada de Burro. Examples of these dances are the Festejo and Lando, which are common to Afro-Peruvian communities of the southern coast. Susana Baca is a renowned singer and composer of Afro Peruvian music. She won a Grammy award in 2002 for her album Lamento Negro.

The Marinera or Zamacueca of the central coast Lima is the current National Dance of Peru, named in honour of the marines who fought against the Chilean military in the War of the Pacific. Among Peruvians of the coast, it is considered as traditional and representative as the Tango is to Argentina. The dance evokes from a mixture of Eastern European gypsy, flamenco and the elegance of the Peruvian Paso Horse. Many people take classes and look forward to the annual Marinera Festival held in the city of Trujillo every July, with thousands in attendance.

In the northern coast especially Lambayeque and Piura, the people are most famous for the Cumananas and the Tondero dance. These are the oldest and most mestizo expressions of Peruvian music and derive from the encounterd mixture of the Gypsies, Africans slaves and migrant Andean cultures.

Peruvian coastal music has in its rich structure the participation of a local instrument called the cajon. This instrument has been mistaken very frequently with an Spanish origin (the cajon was introduced in Spain around the 1980's by Paco de Lucia, but the truth is that the cajon has been utilized in Peruvian music since the colonial times. Although it might also have gypsy influence it has been prooved that the instrument is stricktly of peruvian origin since it is rooted in the Tondero, the Zamacueca, the Resabalosa and peruvian coastal creole rythms before any other expressions.


 



 

 
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