By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
The bandurria cusqueña
The bandurria cusqueña is a very popular string instrument, well known and appreciated in the department of Cusco (located in the central-southern Sierra of Peru). Derived from the 16th century Spanish bandurria (at that time the chordophone had eight strings arranged in four double courses), the bandurria cusqueña retains its characteristic flat-backed sound box, though it is narrower than its ancestor and has a tear-like shape. It also retains the original four courses of metal strings, though these can be double, triple or quadruple with up to sixteen strings accommodated in an eye-catching peg box. Most common tuning for this bandurria is E-B-G-D (in a similar way to the four higher strings of the guitar). Towards the 18th century the Iberian bandurria had already gained the six double courses that have come down to the present day. The bandurria cusqueña, however, followed its own course of development and instead of adding new strings, multiplied them.
It is used as a solo instrument and/or accompanying other instruments to play huaynos, qashwas and other local genres, especially during the Canirvals (for instance at the famous Carnival celebrated in the district of San Pablo, in the province of Canchis). According to popular belief, the bandurria have to be tuned by a siren; and its captivating voice would then be used by musicians to court and make women fall in love, similarly to what happens with the charango.
Famous bandurria players include Félix Apaza ("Chilin Chalan"), a musician from the district of San Pablo (Canchis); Alberto Vega ("El Caballero de la Bandurria"); Jorge Choquehuillca Huallpa and his band Choqewillka Ayllu (from San Pablo, Canchis); and Lucas Puma and his band Nuevas Bandurrias del Cusco. The bandurria has also been used in urban "new Andean music" (i.e. by artists like Faraón de la Bandurria, Los Super Galácticos de la Bandurria, Los Genios de la Bandurria), and even in "tropical" genres as the "chicha". Among the most highly regarded bandurria makers are the ones from Chara (province of Canchis).
The bandurria cusqueña is strongly linked to other Peruvian variants of the bandurria, such as the marimacho or the bandurria de caja.
Picture 01. Bandurria cusqueña players ("Cuarteto T'ankar").
Picture 02. Bandurria player ("Apu de la Bandurria").
Picture 03. Bandurria at the Carnival of San Pablo.
Picture 04. Bandurria under construction.
Video 01. "Sirenita", by Jorge Choquehuillca Huallpa.
Video 02. "Mi pueblo olvidado", by Alberto Vega.
Video 03. Huayno cusqueño on the bandurria.
Video 04. "Carnaval costumbrista", by Las Bandurrias de Oro de San Pablo.
Video 05. "Bailando contigo", by Los Tupac Amarinos.
Video 06. Lucas Puma y las Nuevas Bandurrias del Cusco.
Video 07. "Cholito acongateño", by Los Caminantes de la Bandurria and Estrellita del Ande.
Video 08. "Polani yanaphuyo", by Los Genios de la Bandurria.
Video 09. Faraón de la Bandurria and Joyita de Canchis.