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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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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