Andean Music


Andean Music

Andean Panpipes  Mistakenly called “Inca Music”, present day Andean folk music is the product of centuries of cultural and ethnic intermixing.   The wind and percussion instruments indigenous to the Andean world existed in Pre-Colombian America hundreds of years prior to the advent of the Incas (1200-1500 A.D.) Archaeological excavations have proven that certain musical instruments in the Andean highlands were being played well before the birth of Christ. The Incas were, however, responsible for the highest development of Pre-Colombian Andean music. Unprecedented in its domination of an expanse of territory stretching over the boundaries of present day Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, northeastern Chile and northwestern Argentina, the Inca dynasty created an empire that both imposed itself and incorporated various cultures. 



The quena is a South American wind instrument, mostly used by Andean musicians

the arrival of the first Spaniards to the Andean highlands in the beginning of the sixteenth century marked the beginning of the end for the Incas and many facets of their illustrious   culture. Musically, it was the start of many transformations and the introduction of new instruments never before seen in the Americas. Here we have the appearance of the first stringed instruments: the guitar,mandolin, lute, harp and violin being the most notable.  

Although confronted with a repressive colonial system in which native cultural, religious and artistic manifestations were often obliterated, the Andean highlander continued to search for new ways of expression. European instruments underwent transmutations by way of new musical styles or new forms of tuning. Perhaps the best example of native genius was the creation of the Charango, a small ten-stringed instrument descended from the lute and traditionally made in parts of Bolivia with the shell of an armadillo. Also incorporated was the European system of musical notation, though many villages and regions remain faithful to native notation.
Andean music today enjoys a considerable popularity. The legacy of colonial oppression, however, is still to be found. Transistor radios, the construction of modern highways and the push for “progress” are coupled to the historical prejudices towards native culture inherent in modern-day Andean countries. The music, nevertheless, has persevered and today one can find groups of Andean musicians in many parts of the world.  The highland music of Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, northeastern Chile and northwestwern Argentina forms the backbone of Andean folk music.  There is no mainstream as each region and village is unique in terms of instruments, dance, tuning and rhythm. The richness and variety are seemingly without end.

 andean music



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