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Music in Peru

Music in Peru presents an eclectic mix of sounds, beats, and eras with roots in the Andes, Spain and elsewhere around the globe. Peru's pre-colonial history includes cultures that date back before the Incas established dominance in the 1400s, and much of the nation’s musical influence and instruments can be traced back to those times, particularly the panpipes, flutes and drums of Andean music. Archeological discoveries show that music has been played and performed in Peru as far back as 10,000 years ago.

Native music consists primarily of stringed instruments reminiscent of mandolins and Spanish guitars, including the charanga—Peru’s national instrument. Though once considered music of the rural poor, the rise of the indigenous movement in the art world and the post revolutionary environment after 1959 made native music and the charanga popular among performers across classes. Music in the Andes has maintained much of its native tradition, incorporating Spanish touches with stringed instruments and vocals. The Huayno is a soulful, chant-like style of music most popular in the southern Andean region. Huayno spread from the interior mountainous regions to the coast in the mid-20th century, taking off throughout Peru and other Andean nations.

In the Arequipa region, traditional Andean music is heavily accented with Spanish tones, particularly in the Yaraví style, a sad and soulful sound of vocals accompanied by a Spanish guitar. Music in Puno, Cusco and surrounding regions is similar in its soulful style, but even more melancholic and often incorporating violins and other stringed instruments into traditional Inca rhythms. Heading into the Central Andes, music becomes more lively and upbeat, particularly that of the Huaylas style around the Huanuco/Huaraz region.

Coastal music—musica criolla—exhibits a myriad of rhythms with a generally more lively feel than those of the Andes, with beats rooted in traditional Spanish, African and Gypsy music. A significant slave population brought to regions along the coast made for a strong neo-African influence on culture in the area. By the 1950s, Afro-Peruvian music began being recorded and had incorporated the Spanish guitar, the quijada (an instrument made from the jawbone of a mule), and the cajón drum. The landó and the festejo are two of the most popular forms of up-beat Afro-Peruvian music, often played to accompany equally lively rhythmic dances.

Rock music from North America was introduced in the mid-1950s, paving the way for the first Peruvian rock bands. The 1960s saw new trends, blending in sounds of garage rock. Rock music saw a lull in the late 1960s and 70s during the reign of a military dictatorship that considered the music alienating and banned concerts. Though bands lost momentum, several were able to endure in an underground scene well into the 1980s. Rock became more diversified in the 90s, and bands slowly became recognized in the mainstream later in the decade. Today rock music creates a thriving scene in Peru and has even seen some commercial success on the international stage.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: Peru Dance and Theatre, Yma Sumac - The Pop Life of an Andean Princess, Peruvian Cinema: From Crisis To Opportunity, Peruvian Culture, Museums in Peru, Arequipa’s Phantoms, Art and Literature In Peru.

By Caroline Bennett
exploring, laughing, wanderlust, strangers. 120 film, making art, cyanotypes, vintage. scotch on the rocks & coffee, black. the unknown. the sound of...
13 Jun 2012

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