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History of the Andean music
    Land of winds > Music > History | Issue 19 (May.-Jun. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Andean fusions


Andean fusions

It can be said that the blending of Andean traditional sounds with other styles started in the Andes themselves during the colonial period, when indigenous instruments and repertoire were coupled with foreign ones. This blending process has continued steadily, and to a greater or lesser extent, up to the present. Today, the label "fusion" is mostly used, from a commercial point of view, to refer to those products that can be easily identified as mixing two or more independent and recognizable genres (e.g. "folk and jazz"). It is also used by some composers and music makers to describe experimental and innovative artistic projects aimed at "widening horizons" or "bridging cultures" or, plain and simple, at "playing" a bit with tradition.

A brief overview of the recent history of "Andean music" shows that the last few decades saw many artists and groups releasing crossover albums which blended traditional folklore with pop, rock, heavy metal, romantic ballad, tango, reggae, ska, salsa, cumbia, vallenato, merengue, disco, techno, dance, classic music, Celtic music, North American indigenous music, Afro-American music, music of Asia, jazz, bossa-nova, samba, choro, swing and new-age music, etc., to mention just some of the most popular genres.

Rather than presenting a chronological account of how different types of fusion appeared and evolved over the years –a complex task that exceeds the scope of this article–, the following paragraphs will provide an overview of those groups who have incorporated fusion into their work and made it a distinctive feature of their musical style. Neither the groups whose repertoire consists of traditional songs from Latin America plus a couple of crossover songs, nor those who play a type of fusions that have grown so popular as to become an independent style (e.g. "chicha" music), have been included in the list. There are a few styles, wrongly regarded as "fusion", such as Andean Christian music, which will also be left out of this short list.


Andean fusions

Some of the groups who have combined Andean music with Europe's classical music are Barroco Andino (Chile) and Los Chacos (France). For their part, the charango player Eddy Navia and the group Savia Andina, both from Bolivia, have performed classical music on traditional instruments with great acceptance and success both artistic and commercial.


Video 01. "Música docta" [complete album], by Barroco Andino.
Video 02. "Des Andes a J. S. Bach" [selection of tracks], by Los Chacos.
Video 03. "Rondó a la turca", by Eddy Navia.
Video 04. "Selección de música clásica ", by Savia Andina.


The blending of jazz and Andean folk music is perhaps less known by the audience but equally significant. We can mention in the first place the groups Bolivian Jazz and Peruvian Jazz Project. Other examples include the quena (notched flute) player Lucho Quequezana, the keyboard player Edwin Yupanqui and the multi-instruments player Manuel Miranda (all of them from Peru), and bands like Maihue (Chile), Carlos Ponce Jazz Project (Bolivia) or Serenata de los Andes (Peru).


Video 05. "Auqui jazz", by Bolivian Jazz.
Video 06. Peruvian Jazz Project.
Video 07. "Jazz andino", by Lucho Quequezana.
Video 08. "Jazz de los Andes para una violeta", by Maihue.
Video 09. "Camino a Llojeta", by Carlos Ponce Jazz Project.
Video 10. "De adobe", by Manuel Miranda.
Video 11. "Agüita mágica", by Serenata de los Andes.


Europe has been home to some pretty well-known bands that have combined Andean with Celtic folk. Brittany based band Micamac (France) is an emblematic example of this mixture. Pachamama (Serbia) is also one of the most representative groups; alongside the band Orthodox Celts, they recorded a famous crossover cassette in 1995.


Video 12. Micamac.


Andean fusions

The mixture of lively traditional Andean rhythms with music genres from The Caribbean (from Colombia's cumbia and vallenato to merengue and salsa) has been and is very popular. Many artists have arranged Andean songs with Latin percussion (a trend that has been adopted widely in rhythms such as the Bolivian caporal and saya) and many others have performed popular Caribbean songs using Andean instruments (within this category we can mention some exponents of the Latin American New Song movement, such as Illapu, Quilapayún or Inti-Illimani). The fusion of Andean and "tropical" music has led to the emergence of independent genres such as the Peruvian "chicha" or the "Andean cumbia". Among the representatives of the latter stand out Los Llayras or Los Askis (Mexico), as well as dozens of bands from Andean countries such as Los Taykas, los Chipis, Jumay, Los Titanes, Los Indígenas or Illapay, and soloists like Mónica Resendiz.

Mexican and Andean music have been blended by Mexican bands such as Los Folkloristas or Khenany, among many others.


Video 13. "Se alumbra la vida", by Illapu.
Video 14. "La batea", by Quilapayún.
Video 15. "Ámame", by Los Llayras.
Video 16. "Indio soy", by Los Askis.
Video 17. "Tierra mestiza", by Los Folkloristas [live].


Perhaps one of the international genres that has most often been mixed with Andean music is "new age", which, in general has come under different titles such as "meditation music", "spiritual music" or "ethnic music". During the last three decades, the number of bands that have adopted this style is phenomenal (some of which are known for their flashy costumes and stage show). To mention just some names: Inkari (do not confuse with "Grupo Inkari"), Samay (do not confuse with "Grupo Samay", which plays Christian music), Nazca, Jacuchi, Amer-Inkas, Wayra Ñan, Quipukamak, Amawa's, Zacha, Americas Etnias Sound, Kusillajta, Pakarina, Amauta, Raza, Yarik Ecuador or Pachakuti. The members of these bands usually come from different Latin American countries but have forged a musical career in Europe or USA.


Video 18. "Music from the Andes vol. 3" [complete album], by Inkari.
Video 19. "White buffalo", by Nazca.
Video 20. "Silvermoons secret", by Amer-Inkas.
Video 21. "Love mountain", by Americas Etnias Sound.
Video 22. "Wayra", by Pakarina and Ecuador Spirit [live].
Video 23. "Nahoma", by Yarik Ecuador [live].


Andean fusions

The blending of Andean traditional music with rock, reggae, rap and ska has been successfully incorporated by young bands to reflect local social and political conditions (e.g. Autoctonorap in Peru and Humahuca Trío in Argentina). This type of fusion can easily be found in urban Mapuche music as well as in the music performed by many indigenous/social groups that fight for recognition of their rights (e.g. Peru's Aymara people). Other bands to mix Andean tradition with the any, or several, of styles mentioned above (in an experimental way rather than to express their views on social issues) include C.U.R.A.R.E (Ecuador), Uchpa (Peru, rock/heavy metal and Andean music) and the classics Los Jaivas or Wara (in their beginning stages).


Video 24. "Albazo (Kpishk)", by C.U.R.A.R.E.
Video 25. "Chachaschay", by Uchpa.


The catchy fusion of Andean folk with pop and romantic ballad has become very popular among Bolivian artists (from Los Kjarkas onwards), and has inspired many soloists and bands across Latin America. It would be impossible to mention them all, but here are just a couple of examples: Damaris Mallma (Peru), Kotosh (Peru) and Fusión Ruana (Bolivia).


Video 26. "Palomitay", by Damaris Mallma.
Video 27. "Dulce capricho", by Kotosh.
Video 28. "Tragao de ti", by Fusión Ruana.


Finally, there are a number of groups whose music reflects and incorporates diverse influences. This is the case of Alborada and Indiógenes (Peru), with a very eclectic sound, Altiplano Fusion Band (Bolivia), Tarpuy (especially their latest works, Peru), Alborada del Inka and Chopkjas (created by former members of Alborada), Punto Nazca (Bolivia), Sisay, Tarahumara and Samy (Ecuador), Juan Carlos Arévalo and his band Arkawa (Colombia) or Inkas Wasi, among many others.


Video 29. "Mayupi kuyanakuy", by Indiógenes.
Video 30. "Ciudad del alma", by Altiplano Fusion Band.
Video 31. "El pituco", by Tarpuy.
Video 32. "Za za za", by Alborada del Inka.
Video 33. "Amor perdido", by Chopkjas [live].
Video 34. "Niño aymara", by Punto Nazca.
Video 35. "Tejiendo nubes", by Sisay [live].
Video 36. "Sumak warmi", by Samy.
Video 37. "Ángel de amor", by Arkawa.
Video 38. "Laguna azul", by Inkas Wasi.


Article. "Chichadélica, los orígenes de la música tropical andina", by Alfredo Villar [es]. Part 01.
Article. "Chichadélica, los orígenes de la música tropical andina", by Alfredo Villar [es]. Part 02.


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