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Andean readings
Land of winds > Recommended readings > Recommended readings | Issue 01. Jul.-Aug.2010
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia
Ernesto Cavour Aramayo
Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia [Musical instruments of Bolivia]
(La Paz: CIMA, 1994)
Ilustr. b/n – 490 pp.

This book includes 400 reviews of Bolivian popular instruments plus a similar number of European instruments used in Bolivia and many innovations by the author himself. “Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia” is a mandatory reading for anyone wanting to know the instrumental landscape of this Andean country. The book is a complete reference guide to the wide range of Andean string, wind and percussion instruments, but most important is the fact it is one of the few existing works that collect, illustrate and explain them. Although the text is a far cry from academic writing, and in some cases his statements are somewhat improvised and disorganized, these pages are the common ground where any approach to Bolivian organology should be based on. The author, a renowned charango player and composer, is the founder of the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia (Museum of Musical Instruments of Bolivia), a real gem partially hidden in downtown La Paz, right in the heart of its old quarter, whose rooms are home for the stunning variety of all sound elements used to make music in Bolivia. This outstanding collection of musical material that also contains archaeological whistles and flutes is what the book portrays. The huge amount of information offered by Cavour in this guide banishes any rain cloud related to his lack of experience in academic writing – even the use of colloquial Spanish expressions and local turns of phrase. An essential and necessary piece of writing work, “Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia” is the starting point for discovering a unique universe of shapes and sounds that will make anyone fall in love with Andean musical instruments.

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