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    Land of winds > Instruments > Instruments | Issue 11 (Jul.-Aug.2012)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Andean aerophones (05): tropas (groups) of tarkas

Tropas of tarkas

With origins in Bolivia and strongly tied to Aymara cultural heritage, the tarkas are played in the area under the influence of their traditions: from north-western Argentina across the Bolivian Altiplano to northern Chile and southern Peru. As it happens with other Andean aerophones, they are usually played in consorts (tropas) made in graduated sizes and tuned in parallel fourths, fifths, and octaves, forming large groups of up to 50 players accompanied by bombos (drums), cajas and/or redoblantes (snare drums) or tarolas. In traditional contexts they are never played in combination with other wind or string instruments; however, many urban musicians do it not knowing traditions and customs.

Within the tropas of tarkas there are two types: those accompanied by bombos and snare drums and those by cajas. The former are the most common ones, include three different sizes (called tayka, mama or liku, malta or mala and tiple, chuli or ch'ili, from bigger to smaller) and can be classified in four major categories (listed below); while the latter are known as ayawaya, have origins in the province Sur Carangas (Oruro department, Bolivia) and the Quechua-speaking area of this department, and consist of a single size of flute, about 60 cm long.

The tropa of potosinas (literally, "from Potosí") is the bigger in size: the tayka can range up to 90 cm long, the malta about 45 cm and the tiple about 35 cm. Despite what its name suggests, they are mostly played in the department of La Paz (Bolivia) and in Puno (Peru).

The tropa of salinas (literally, "from the salt flats") comprises 60 cm long taykas, 40 cm long malas and 30 cm long tiples. These flutes have origins in Salinas de Garci Mendoza (province of Ladislao Cabrera, department of Oruro). In the very same region there are other tarkas called "tarkas orureñas" made of tarko wood, white and as big as the potosinas, though much thicker.

The tropa of curaguaras (curahuaras, kurawaras), with origins in the province of Aroma (department of La Paz, Bolivia) includes 50 cm taykas, 35 cm maltas and 25 cm tiples.

Finally, the smallest tropa of ollaras or ullaras consists of about 45 cm taykas, 30 cm maltas and 20 cm tiples.

In recent times, artisans from Walata Grande (department of La Paz, Bolivia) have introduced a fourth size of flute known as taypi or contra, though its use is not widespread.

In Argentina, the tropa of anatas usually comprises three sizes: tarka, anata and anatiri, since the fourth fell into disuse long ago.

Picture 01. Tropa of tarkas orureñas (from Oruro) 01.
Picture 02. Tropa of tarkas orureñas (from Oruro) 02.
Picture 03. Tropa of tarkas orureñas (from Oruro) 03.
Picture 04. Tropa of tarkas potosinas (from Potosí).
Picture 05. Tropa of tarkas.

Video 01. Tarqueada at the Carnival of Oruro.
Video 02. Tarqueada of Totora.
Video 03. Tarqueada Calasaya.
Video 04. Tarqueda Municipal de Huancané.
Video 05. Tarqueada San Miguel (tarkas from Oruro).
Video 06. Tarqueada Aymara Chapiquiña.
Video 07. Tarqueada Chapicollo.
Video 08. Tarqueada Putre (Chile).
Video 09. Popular Argentinean anateada, by Tomás Lipán.

Picture A.

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