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Land of winds > Instruments > Instrument | Issue 02. Sep.-Oct.2010
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

siku zampoña pusa phusa sikuri flauta de Pan andina instrumentos andinos
The siku

Also known as zampoña, pusa, phusa, phukuna or antara, this pan flute or panpipe consists of two halves, each one comprised of a row of hollow pipes stopped at one end. The pipes of gradually increasing range are held together using thread, a woollen string or small cane strips. The number of pipes in each row usually varies from eight to ten according to the type of siku.
Even though there are numerous variants of one-row sikus, the most common ones have two. Originally, each half (named “arka” and “ira”, respectively) worked as a single instrument and was played by a different player, whose performances complemented each other. This technique still remains in traditional contexts, however, in urban and mestizo areas both halves are considered as one instrument and performed together by just one player.
When the siku is performed “in halves” (by two players, each one blowing a half), each half can have a complementary row of pipes attached to it working as a resonator and making sound richer and most peculiar.
In general, sikus are played in “tropas”, large instrumental groups consisting of 10 to 60 musicians or “sikuris”, each one with a siku (or a half). Within these “tropas” they can be played between three and seven different sizes of the same variant of siku. This way, by playing the same key in different tunings, it is possible to create very special harmonies that characterize particular “tropas”. For example, the jula julas are two-row sikus without resonators attached to each of its halves (the half named arka consisting of four pipes, and the ira of three). The jula julas “tropa” comprises five sizes. Their names, from the largest to the smallest one, are orkho jula jula, mali jula jula, liku jula jula, tijli jula jula and ch’ili jula jula. These sizes allow performing the melody in different scales producing harmonies (in this case fifth- and octave-based) that lend a definite quality to the final sound. Since this particular siku is usually played “in halves”, one musician or sikuri will blow a one-row single instrument named arka orkho jula jula, another will blow the ira orkho jula jula, and so on.
The pipes of the pan flute are typically made from chuqui cane or “female bamboo”, thought materials, shapes, sizes and tunings change from region to region. The so-called “professional sikus or panpipes” are tuned in G M (temperate scale) and consist of two rows with ten and eleven pipes, respectively.
The names given to each type of siku are different according to each people and province, therefore their variety is astounding. Among the well-known traditional sikus it is worth mentioning the Ecuadorian rondador, the Colombian capador, antaras, pallas, the Mapuche piloilo and the different “tropas” of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile: laquitas, pandilleros, pusamorenos, suri sikus, jach'a sikus o toyos, sikus de Italaque, sikus de Charazani o k’antus, jula julas, chiriguanos (chiriwanus), ayarachis, ayarichis, sikus ch’allas, mimulas, kalla-machus and tabla sikus.

Siku (panpipe), in Wikipedia.
Video “Jula jula”. Tropa of jula julas, variant of siku or panpipe.
Video “Suma sikuri”, by Sikuris Taypi Ayka. Tropa of sikus de Italaque, variant of siku or panpipe.
Video “Llaqulla”. Tropa of ayarachis, variant of siku or panpipe.
Video “Jallu lluvia” by Awatiñas. Tropa of jacha sikus, variant of siku or panpipe.
Different Ecuadorian instruments, including a rondador made from condor feathers and one of cane with 14 pipes.
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