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Andean transverse flutes are relatively unknown aerophones, especially if we compare their popularity with that gained by other wind instruments such as vertical flutes (quenas, pinkillos) or Andean panpipes (sikus, antaras, rondadores). However, the transverse flute bands of the Andes (pitos, pífanos, phalahuatas, flutes, gaitas, lawatas...) are in good health, especially in the northern half of the Cordillera (Colombia, Ecuador, Peruvian Central Andes), but also in some parts of the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano (Meseta del Collao).

In line with the traditional pattern of Andean wind ensembles (several flutes accompanied by percussion instruments), these bands can either play well-known popular music styles such as the Colombian bambuco and the Cusco huayno, or try songs written specifically for them. Their distinctive sound, found more often in non-equal tempered tuning, usually accompanies community celebrations and is therefore synonymous of festivity. This issue of "Land of winds" will briefly explore the instruments, but also the historical and geographical context in which they occur, the music they make, and the players and composers that play and write it.

Picture: Pífano [E. Civallero].

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Issue 20 (Nov.-Dec. 2014)

The Venezuelan Andes.

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