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Land of winds > Instruments > Instruments | Issue 04. Mar.-Apr.2011
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza


Andean aerophones: current distribution

Nowadays, Andean aerophones are widely spread across the Andean range. The incessant movement of people between regions promoting their social and cultural enrichment since pre-Incan times has made it possible for several musical instruments (e.g. quena and panpipe) to be played in the entire mountain range. Many others, however, are characteristic of different places and regions.

Mapuche instruments

Natural trumpets such as the trutruka and the lolkiñ (or ñolkiñ), whistle-like instruments such as the pifilka (or pifüllka), the cow horn known as kull kull, and the traverse flute called kiná, pinkullwe or pingkullwe, are the Mapuche people’s instruments and can be found in the Patagonian Andes.

Mapuche music. In Revista de Artes [es].
Trutruca, in Wikipedia [es].
Pifilca, in Wikipedia.
Video 01. Trutruka.
Video 02. Trutruka and pifilkas played in a Choike purrún (ceremonial Mapuche dance).
YouTube channel “Araucanía sin fronteras”. Videos of Mapuche instruments [es].

Argentinean northwest and the region of Tarija, in the south of Bolivia, are home to the erke or corneta, the erquencho and the kamacheña or flautilla de Pascua. The erquencho is a clarinet-like instrument made from a hollowed-out cattle horn (acting as a bell) into the end of which a reed is attached. The kamacheña is a very peculiar small quena with three finger holes and a curious mouthpiece that is played with a single hand while the other beats a caja (a sort of drum).

Picture 01. Erquencho.
Picture 02. Erquenchos from Tarija.
Video 03. Erquencho from Iruya (Salta).
Video 04. Erques (cañas chapacas) from Tarija.

Jujuy sikuri band

In addition, in this region it is possible to find “anatas” (local name given to tarkas), bands of sikuris (a group of musicians playing different types of panpipe or siku, usually lakita or misti-siku), quenas (traditional flutes of the Andes, open at both ends), pinkillos (straight, end-blown flutes), ocarinas (globular flutes), and some mohoceños (long, dual-tube bamboo flute). Some of them would have been introduced during the Incan rule and others by successive waves of Bolivian immigrants.

Video 05 (low quality). Sikuri of Jujuy.
Video 06 (low quality). Sikuri of Jujuy.

Located in the northern half of Chile is “flautas de chinos”, a curious folkloric musical expression that moves between the Mapuche’s pifilkas and the Chichas’ jantark'i whistles (Bolivia). These flute-like instruments are played by groups of dancers (of up to fifty people) who dance in honour of their patron saint or the Blessed virgin. The sound they produce is awesome and truly impressive.

Book “Con mi humilde devoción. Bailes chinos de Chile central”. In Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art [es].
Documentary “De todo el universo entero”, about the Baile de chinos. In Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art [es].
Video 07. Bailes chinos.
Video 08. Bailes chinos.

Sikuri jula jula

From the Norte Grande of Chile to the south of Peru, crossing the Bolivian high plateau, surrounding Lake Titicaca, stretches a region that is home to the Aymara people. Identifying the many different wind-instruments used by this culture is not an easy task. There are pinkillo-like flutes (tarkas, mohoceños, pinkillos, pusipías, waka pinkillos, alma pinkillos, phunas, koikos, kachuiris, tarakhas), quena-like flutes (lichiguayos, choquelas, ujusiris, quena quenas), groups of panpipes (lakitas, jach'as, jula julas, ayarichi, italaques and k’antus), and horns (pututus, wajras). Other peoples settled within this region are the Chipaya, whose instruments were featured in a previous issue of this magazine.

Picture 03. Tarkas.
Picture 04. Mohoseño.
Picture 05. Pinkillos.
Video 09. Tarkeada.
Video 10. Tarkeada.
Video 11. Mohoseñada.
Video 12. Pinkillada.
Video 13. Quena quena.

Senqa tenqana Pujllay Tarabuco

The valleys of the Bolivian Andes are populated by Quechua ethnic groups. Their instruments range from pinkillo-like flutes (senqatanqanas, chajjes, much’as, turumes, tokhoros, pinkhullus, rollanos, lautas), to quenas, several groups of panpipes (pusamorenos, misti sikus, tabla sikus, suri sikus), natural trumpets (tira tiras), traverse flutes (phalahuitas) and whistles (jantark'is).

Picture 06. Senqatenqanas.
Picture 07. Tabla siku.

In the Peruvian Andes, inhabited by Quechua peoples from north to south, we can find different variants of quena and pinkillo (usually performed in small groups), the rollanos, trumpets (wayra-phukunas, clarines), and panpipes (misti sikus).

Andean music of Peru, in Wikipedia [es].
Video 14. Carnaval de Ayacucho.

In Ecuador, different Quechua-speaking peoples use pingullos (pinkillos with three finger holes), cattle horn horns (cachos, bocinas), panpipes (rondadores and pallas) and traverse flutes (pitos, dulzainas, chirimías). Both Ecuadorian instruments and rhythms have been already described in a previous issue.

Book. “Música popular tradicional del Ecuador”. In IPANC, Cartography of the memory [es].

Besides the traditional instruments already mentioned (of indigenous origin), across the Andean range there are European aerophones that make up brass bands (trumpets, trombones, tubas, saxophones, clarinets, traverse flutes) as well as the accordion, the harmonica and the chirimia (a type of oboe).
It is impossible to summarize the huge diversity of wind instruments made and played in the Andean region. These lines offer a small hint of the musical richness of this part of South America.
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