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History of the Andean music
    Land of winds > Music > History | Issue 18 (Mar.-Apr. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Andean music outside the Andes


Andean music outside the Andes

As the threads in a cloth, the paths of the music have been woven together over the last five centuries into a thick fabric of bonds between America and the rest of the world. The birth of the so called "Andean music" –such as it is now understood– has much to do with some of those paths; particularly, the ones that run between the Andean range, Buenos Aires and Paris.

The story goes back to the early 20th century. Carried by the romantic and nationalistic winds that blew across mid-end 19th century South America, some composers and musicians, who were at the time regarded as "cultured", began to include in their repertoire certain rhythms known as "traditional", "popular", "indigenous" or "[sounds] of the land" (a famous examples is that of Peruvian composer Daniel Alomías Robles and his "El cóndor pasa").

Through the development of the radio and recording technology, those compositions (usually adapted to suit the liking of urban audiences, therefore bearing little resemblance to the original musical expressions) rapidly became widely known. This is how a number of Andean rhythms, such as the huayno, the bailecito, the yaraví or the albazo, gained popularity.

Back in the 1920s, Buenos Aires was really a magnet for musicians coming from Andean countries, especially for its recording studios, record labels, radios, theatres and its flourishing cultural life. Many artists based and worked in Buenos Aires, including the "Misión Peruana de Arte Incaica" led by Luis Valcárcel, the Lira Incaica led by Peruvian Alberto Ruiz Lavadenz, Peruvians Yma Sumac and Moisés Vivanco, Argentine Antonio Pantoja and Bolivian Mauro Núñez, among others. One of the most influential ensembles in what would later become commercial "Andean folk" was the Argentine group Los Hermanos Ábalos (founded by the brothers of the same name), who first introduced the classic "Andean ensemble" consisting of guitar, charango, bombo (drum) and winds.

During the reconstruction period after World War II, many South American musicians brought their musical traditions and influences with them to Europe, especially to Paris. The Paraguayan group Los Guaranís was among the pioneers of the European "Andean music" scene. They came to France to provide live musical accompaniment to the company of Latin American folklore led by the Spanish-Argentine dancer Joaquin Pérez. Los Guaranís had learnt a bit of Andean music during their stay in 1940s Buenos Aires, and during their visit to Paris they decided to settle down in "The City of Light". Here, their version of "El humahuaqueño" became a hit and propelled them into the spotlight.

Influenced by Los Hermanos Ábalos, Los Incas (later renamed Urubamba) came to life in 1956 in Paris, with a line-up consisting of Argentine Carlos Ben-Pott and Ricardo Galeazzi and Venezuelan Elio Riveros and Narciso Debourg. These musicians and Jorge Milchberg, who later took the place of Galeazzi, came into contact with Andean music in venues such as "L'Escale", on the Left Bank of Paris, or playing in the streets (as happened with "Uña" Ramos or Jorge Cumbo).

Curiously enough, big names such as the Parra family (and musicians like Gilbert Favre) would discover many Andean instruments and styles during their stay in Paris in the late 1950s, and would later draw upon them to develop the New Song Movement (Spanish, Nueva Canción, a form of traditional Latin American folk music mixed with political and social commentary) in Santiago de Chile towards mid-1960s.

At that time, Latin American music in Europe did not have the political significance it later acquired. In those early years, the Latin-American music groups based in Europe performed a varied repertoire ranging from tropical music (Los Machucambos, in the late 1950s) to Andean sounds (Los Chacos, Los Guacharacos, Guillermo de la Roca and Los Calchakis, in the early 1960s). In the late 1960s, however, Latin-American music began to be associated with a popular, indigenous, revolutionary left-wing political bent; for the next years the works by Carlos Puebla (especially his iconic "Hasta siempre comandante", a guajira rhythm with lyrics describing Che Guevara and his role as a revolutionary commander), Atahualpa Yupanqui, Daniel Viglietti, Violeta Parra and Nicomedes Santa Cruz, spread widely across Europe and there was an increasing fascination with "indigenousness", an attraction which Los Calchakis made the most out of by including the term "indienne" in the title of their albums. Well grounded bands, such as Los Incas, also took advantage of the enthusiasm awakened by the coupling "quena flute + revolution" to launch new recordings, and local ensembles such as Los Quetzales (created in 1967, by Raymond Thevenot) or Pachacamac (in 1965, by Jean-Pierre Bluteau) rooted in this musical soil; while French pop singers (like Maurice Dulac and Marianne Mille, who were accompanied by Pachacamac on several occasions) also gained fame singing "revolutionary" songs (e.g. "Dis à ton fils", based in the music of "Quiaqueñita").

Towards late 1960s, some truly Andean groups began to tour Europe; this is the case of the Bolivian groups Los Jairas (1969) or Ruphay (1972).


Los Machucambos, in Wikipedia [fr].
Los Calchakis, in Wikipedia [es].
Urubamba (Los Incas), in Wikipedia .
Article. "Andean Music, the Left, and Pan-Latin Americanism: The Early History", by Fernando Ríos.


Video 01. "Pájaro campana", by Los Machucambos.
Video 02. "La flûte indienne", by Los Calchakis and Los Guacharacos [complete album].
Video 03. "El cóndor pasa" (original version), by Los Incas.
Video 04. "Soncoyman", by Los Chacos.
Video 05. "Lumière violente", by Los Quetzales.
Video 06. "Sin azúcar", by Pachacamac.


Andean music outside the Andes

In the aftermath of the coup d'état in Chile (1973), many artists and musical ensembles went into exile in Europe: Quilapayún (and Amerindios), Inti-Illimani, Illapu, Isabel and Ángel Parra, Aparcoa, Héctor Pavez, Juan Capra, Trabunche... Many others had to migrate as soon as the military dictatorship began in Argentina in 1976 (e.g. Mercedes Sosa), adding their footsteps to those of the many Latin American artists who learned to survive by exhibiting their works abroad. Based in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, United Kingdom or Sweden, musician-exiles (e.g. Los Koyas in France) faced obvious challenges in bridging the gap with those who were already established in the country (migrants or locals). These challenges did not stop them from making music and presenting their work. They just went on doing what they loved while, at the same time, were able to mix their sounds with those of the place that hosted them. In this way, several novel projects were undertaken (e.g. Inti-Illimani in Italy) and local initiatives were set up, such as those embodied by Incantation in United Kingdom or Micamac (Celtic-Andean fusion) in France.

At the same time, many musicians based in South America (especially in Bolivia and Peru) launched their international career giving concerts and recitals throughout Europe (a necessary step to take to move forward in their musical career, today as in the past). These stage performances not only served as inspiration to other musicians but also as a means to connect migrant communities (musicians or not) with the music styles and genres (and the composers and performers of the music) then fashion in their homeland.


Andean music outside the Andes

The harsh socio-economic conditions that were prevailing in Latin America in general and in the Andean region in particular during the 1980s forced many musicians to prolong their stay in the destination country, while others simply made the decision to extend their stay looking for better opportunities to gain success in their careers. Be that as it may, USA. and Western Europe (but also Japan and Australia) saw an increasing number of migrant Andean musicians. Meanwhile, the music scene was pumping with new groups such as Alturas, Takillakta or Alpamayo (Peru), Charijayac, Yarina or Ñanda Mañachi (Ecuador), K'ala Marka (Bolivia), Quimantu (Chile), and mixed projects like Bolivia Manta developed in France. The "Andean/Latin American" music with political commentary of the 1970s had given way to both fusion and roots revival projects.


Quilapayún, in Wikipedia.
Amerindios, in Wikipedia.
Héctor Pavez, in Wikipedia [es].
Juan Capra, in Wikipedia [it].
Los Koyas, in Wikipedia [en].
Alborada (Peru), in Wikipedia [es].
K'ala Marka, in Wikipedia [es].


Video 07. "Pido castigo", by Quilapayún.
Video 08. "Amerindios – 1970", by Amerindios [complete album].
Video 09. "Tu grito es mi canto", by Amerindios [complete album].
Video 10. "Chile", by Aparcoa [complete album].
Video 11. "Folclórico popular – 1972", by Héctor Pavez [complete album].
Video 12. "Dicen que no caben", by Juan Capra.
Video 13. "Fiesta en los Andes", by Los Koyas.
Video 14. "Women of Ireland", by Micamac.
Video 15. "Nieve en los Andes", by Alturas.
Video 16. "Quiquinmanta", by Takillakta.
Video 17. "Ananau", by Alborada (Peru).
Video 18. "Mashua", by Alpamayo.
Video 19. "Punyaro tushuy", by Charijayac.
Video 20. "De los Andes al Amazonas", by K'ala Marka [complete album].
Video 21. "Surtierra", by Quimantu.
Video 22. "Silla mula", by Bolivia Manta.


Andean music outside the Andes

Fusions and Andean roots music revivals became in fashion outside the Andes; a fashion that, in the 1990s, also applied to a number of New Age currents worldwide. Curiously enough, while the romantic style of Los Kjarkas and Proyección and the local style of Awatiñas and many others were the styles preferred in Peru and Bolivia (and K'ala Marka's musical innovation anticipated much of what followed in "Andean" music), Europe embraced the "ethnic sounds" and dissolved the boundaries between jazz, classic and techno music. This is the time of bands such as Atahualpa and Senda Nueva in Italy; Ukhamau, Grupo Sal, Wayrakuna and Cusco in Germany; Los Andinos in Hungary; Ayllu in Croatia; Pachamama in Serbia; Grupo Costa/Costa Manta in Poland; Inkuyo, Huayucaltia, Inca Son, Ancient Winds, Vientos del pueblo, Inkhay, Perumanta, Quichua Mashis and Raymi Andes (among others) in USA.; Ancient Cultures in Canada; and Perú Inka, Altitud, Chaskinakuy and Sagarnaga in France.


Video 23. "Río de Ackamani", by Ukamau.
Video 24. "Quetzal's feather", by Cusco.
Video 25. "Selection of tinkus", by Inkuyo.
Video 26. "Inca warrior", by Inca Son.
Video 27. "Reflections", by Ancients winds.
Video 28. "Rosaura", by Inkhay.
Video 29. "Historia de piedra / Chuquiagomarka", by Perumanta.
Video 30. "Taquirari de la espera", by Altitud.
Video 31. "Tres bailecitos", by Chaskinakuy.
Video 32. "Waka waka", by Sagarnaga.


Andean music outside the Andes

Since the turning of the millennium, there has been a renewed interest in Andean music and many associations, organizations and groups outside the Andes perform this music largely supported by the persistence of strong communities of Andean migrants as well as by modern technology (that has facilitated the spread of their works) and the strengthening of a number of community musical expressions (sikuris, tarkas). Some of the groups that make up the international "Andean" scene of the last decade are Kirkincho sp., Wayra/Tuntuna, Ensemble Pachamama, Qhana Pacha, Quijote transandino, Sierramanta and Varsoviamanta in Eastern Europe; Miski Pachahuaray, Achalay, Kinua, Taki Kuska, Los K'ayras and Kullawas in France; Taquicuna in Germany; Inka Marka in Australia; Grupo Chaska, Tierra Blanca, Tikay, Kuraca, Umiusagui, Los Aviones, Chirikumarka, Yukie Hosaka, Mariko Adachi and Chizuru Kakimoto, and many others in Japan; Altipampa, Karumanta Jamuyku, Andean Nation and Andes Manta in USA.


Blog. "Antimuyu", Andean music in Europe [ru].
Blog. "Música andina" [es].


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