display | more...

Peruvian music is an amalgamate of styles which has its roots in the Spanish colonization of South America in the 16th century. The music combines elements from three cultures:

There are two main styles: Criollo and Afro-Peruvian. Criollo is Hispanic influenced music, while the Afro-Peruvian is black influenced.

The colonization of Peru was very different than that from other South American countries. African slaves were initially brought to Peru to work in the gold and silver mines in the high Andes. Not many survived the extreme temperatures, and the high altitude, and as a result many of the slaves were sent to the milder coastal region to work on the sugar cane fields. The Spanish and Creole haciendas are the birthplace of the Afro-Peruvian music.

The diversity of the slaves that were brought into Peru also played an important role in the origins of the Afro-Peruvian music. In Brazil and other Central/North American countries, large numbers of slaves from the same tribe were imported. To discourage uproar, the Peruvian slaves were imported from widely dispersed geographical locations in Africa and as a result had very different ethnical backgrounds and cultures. Because of their ethic diversity, the Peruvian slaves easily adopted the culture and language of their new country, and integrated elements from Andean music into theirs. There were some occasions at which music was shared: Christmas was a time at which the Africans were allowed to share their cultural background with the indigenous people. The Catholic Church also encouraged cofradiás: associations that served to preserve national and African culture.

Traditional lyrics of Afro-Peruvian music deal with penalivio: "easing the pain" of slavery, much like the origins of the blues. The songs oftentimes relate to slave labor, or (religious) feasts. There are many sub-genres such as the festejo (celebration), a dialogue of short phrases with sudden pauses. This music is the basis for dance competitions. Another sub-genre is the landó; a type of Peruvian dance music similar to Carribean music, but slower and gentler. The marinera is also a typical Peruvian dance music, usually performed in traditional costume.

Due to Spanish influences, many Peruvians learned to play European instruments and music, but added their own interpretation. This is the source of (Hispanic) criollo. The vals criollo is a direct descendant from the Viennese Waltz, but has a more restrained, dry sound. There are many other influences and styles that shaped both the Criollo as well as the Afro-Peruvian music.

Because of the many cultural influences on Peruvian music, there is a wide array of instruments. The traditional pre-Hispanic instruments are typically wind instruments such as:

  • Quena - a straight tube instrument with five or six sound-holes
  • Zampoña/Antara - this instrument is the south American pan- pipe: it is a bound cluster of sound pipes. The number of pipes varies from region to region.
  • Tarka - An ancient wooden flute, used for religious ceremonies and dances.
There are also several traditional pre-Hispanic percussion instruments in Peru:
  • Chác-Chás/chullus - rattles made of goat hooves tied to a strip of cloth.
  • Bombo Legüero - a drum made froma hollow tree trunk covered with a cured animal skin.
  • Chaucha - A giant dried, wild pod filled with seeds that is used as a rattle.
  • Palo de Lluvia - The "rain stick". This instrument consists of a 6 ft. long, hollow bamboo reed with sealed ends. A large number of sticks intersects the walls of the reed, and the reed is filled with dried beans. The rain stick is played by turning it upside-down repeatedly.

The criollo (also) uses more traditional European instruments such as:

  • Guitar - This is the most popular instrument in Peru. The basic form is the traditional six-string Spanish guitar, although there are also modifications with ten strings.
  • Harp - This instrument is also very popular, and many variations in shape, material and tuning exist.
  • Violin - The violin is played all over Peru. The instrument is either identical to the European violin, but there are also many variations on the instrument.
  • Charango - This is the Andean version of the Spanish guitar. The instrument is usually smaller than a guitar, and the number of strings can vary.
  • Mandolin - the mandolin is a string instrument similar to a lute. The soundbox is often made of an armadillo shell.

Due to its origins, typical instruments of the Afro-Peruvian music consists of very simple instruments. Some of the percussion instruments were developed from household appliances such as spoons, table tops, wooden boxes. Typical instruments are:

  • Cajón - A wooden box with a sound-hole at the back. The musician sits on top of the box and raps with both hands on the front.
  • Quijada - this instrument is a bottom half of a jawbone of a donkey, mule or horse. The instrument is held in one hand and punched with the other to make the teeth rattle. The vibra-slap was derived from the Quijada.
  • Cajita - This instrument is a wooden box, smaller than the Cajón. The cajita is played by opening and closing the top lid of the box to the rhythm of the music, while striking it with a stick.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.