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    Land of winds > The people > Language | Issue 13 (Jan.-Feb. 2013)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Sikuri vocabulary

Sikuri vocabulary

Sikuri (adopted into Spanish as "sicuri") is an Aymara word formed by the term siku and the suffix –iri, which literally means "siku (panpipe) player".

Other names to call the double row Andean Pan flute besides zampoña (Spanish term) and siku (Aymara term), are phuku (from Quechua phukuna, "something that is blown"), phusa (from Aymara phusa, "something hollow" or phusaña, "to play an instrument by blowing through it") or lakita (from Aymara laka, "mouth").

Similarly to "sikuri", the words "phusiri" and "zampoñari" are built by adding the suffix –iri to the terms "zampoña" and "phusa".

Morphologically these flutes can be divided into chakasikus (from Quechua chaka, "staircase"), consisting of several pipes of gradually increasing length, and tablasikus (from Castillian tabla, "board"), rectangular in shape with pipes of equal length. Each siku comprises two halves or "amarros" (rows), called arka (from Aymara arkiri, "the one that follows") and ira (from Aymara irpiri, "the one that leads").

The term "tropa" designates the instruments played by a band, ensemble or group of sikuris; each tropa includes different "cortes" or sizes of the same instrument (between 2 and 9) tuned in parallel thirds, fourths, fifths and/or octaves. The "standard" tropa has four sizes (at present considered the commercial sizes par excellence); from largest to smallest: toyo (probably from Quechua t'uyu, "oar, mast", referring to a long pole), sanka, malta (from Quechua mallta, "medium-sized") and ch'uli (from Quechua ch'ulli, "the youngest [son]"). These names vary from tropa to tropa. The most common denominations are tayka (in Aymara, "mother"), jacha (in Aymara, "big"), malta or ankuta (both, in Aymara, "medium-sized", referring to a yearling sheep, lamb) or chili (from quechua ch'illi, "tiny, minute").

The music performed by sikuris bands is known under the general name of sikuriada or sikureada (sicuriada, sicureada); on some occasions, the term is used to designate the band itself, and becomes part of the band's name.

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