Recording Studio: Andean Music

Recording Studio: While travelling through the Andean region of South America, one cannot help but become enchanted with the haunting, beautiful sounds of traditional music playing anywhere from the street corner, to a festival, or in a bar. Andean music is not restricted to traditional sounds; African rhythms from the coast and salsa in the cities join to create a musical melting pot. For the traveler, music provides a fun medium to participate in a foreign culture. Music is a timeless accompaniment to entertainment, and as any Latin American traveler knows, wherever music is playing, a fiesta is just around the corner!

Recording Studio: Andean Instruments

Andean musicians use a variety of instruments, some even dating to pre-Inca origins. Wind instruments compromise the majority of traditional music. Quenas are notched-end blown flutes with a fingering style similar to that of a recorder. They were once made of llama bone, but are now carved of wood. They produce a pentatonic, or five-note scale, which to ears trained to a European musical tradition, has a distinctly melancholy tone to it. The panpipes, also called antaras or zamponas, are played by blowing across the end of the pipes. This technique produces a breathy sound, which may be as high-pitched as a birdcall or as deep as the voice of a bassoon. Percussion is provided by a simple, deep voiced frame drum, called a tambar or a bombo.

Recording Studio: Spanish Influence

The arrival of the Spaniards in the 1520’s influenced Andean music with the introduction of strings. The result is a marriage of traditional and Hispanic instruments, which have evolved into uniquely Andean instruments, such as the charango, a small mandolin, made from the shell of an armadillo.
The Andean harp is another example, with its great, boat-like, half-conical sounding-box.

Recording Studio: Andean Music Today

Today, Andean music is not only performed in the chincherias or cantinas frequented by Quechua speakers, but is also recorded in sound studios, on records, cassette tapes and CD’s, and played on the radio. The primary form of popular music, which has evolved from traditional forms, is the wayno. The wayno constitutes a complex blend of poetry, music and dance. It is a rural music, like bluegrass for example, and each region has developed its own characteristic variation. It is typically played in 2/4 time with an insistent, infectious rhythm; the dance is usually performed by couples, their hands joined, with much stamping of feet to cries of mas fuerza, mas fuerza, or stronger, stronger!