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    Land of winds > Instruments > Instruments | Issue 19 (May.-Jun. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Borrowings, adaptations and innovations


Borrowings, adaptations and innovations

Andean organological base does not restrict itself to traditional wind, string and percussion instruments. A number of instruments from the European scholar/popular music have been added to the list through the centuries, and more recently, there have also been included several instruments from modern musical currents.

In many cases, these instruments were adopted to play traditional and popular rhythms of the Andes. In other cases, however, they were adapted to fit the possibilities and needs of rural luthiers and musicians. And only in a few cases, the creativity and skill of the artisans (drawing inspiration from traditional and non-traditional elements) gave birth to audacious innovative (or invented) instruments.


Borrowings, adaptations and innovations

Among the musical instruments native to Europe that were assimilated without undergoing much change by the composers and musicians of the Andes to play their traditional music we find several chordophones (guitar, violin, harp, plucked instruments); the concertina, the harmonica and the accordion; the piano and the organ; wood and metal instruments featured in "brass bands" (trumpet, trombone, sax, tuba, clarinet, oboe and flute); and a number of percussion instruments (including bass drum, drum, snare drum and cymbals). Other instruments to be incorporated, though partially, were instruments of the symphonic orchestra (viola, cello, double bass, bassoon) an electric instruments (keyboards, drum kit, guitar and bass).

In some cases, the "borrowing" is played using techniques that are different from European standards and similar to those used when playing some of the native instruments (e.g. the guitar of Ayacucho, the harp of Apurímac or the sax of the valley of Mantaro, Peru); in other cases, traditional songs are arranged for the "borrowed" instrument or for a group of them (e.g. traditional huaynos, morenadas or caporales arranged for "brass bands" in Bolivia and Chile).


Video 01. Guitar (Andean style, Peru) played by Manuelcha Prado.
Video 02. Violins and harp (Andean style, Peru) played by the Pillco family ("Condemayta").
Video 03. Violins and harp (Andean style, Peru) played by Trío Melodías de Pomabamba.
Video 04. Bandurria, violín and harp (Andean style, Peru) played by Choqewillka Ayllu ("Marinera cusqueña").
Video 05. Concertina (Andean style, Bolivia) played by Orlando Rojas and Rafael Ortiz ("Boquerón abandonado").
Video 06. Trumpet and snare drum (Andean style, Peru) imitating the "chirisuya" of Sunicancha (Lima, Peru). In this case, the trumpet imitates the "chirisuya", an indigenous chirimía from the Peruvian Andes (see video 09, below).
Video 07. Brass band played by Banda Real Majestad of Juliaca (Puno, Peru). Selection of Andean morenadas, originally played on sikus (panpipes), arranged for brass band.
Video 08. Brass band played by Banda Intercontinental Poopó of Oruro (Oruro, Bolivia). Selection of Andean caporales, originally played on traditional aerophones, arranged for brass band.

Borrowings, adaptations and innovations

There are, on the other hand, European instruments that were "adapted" to the Andean world; these instruments were usually reproduced using local materials and techniques. The list includes "Andean" saxes, clarinets and oboes (chirimías, Spanish for shawms), made of cane or wood using the technique used to manufacture traditional aerophones (though saxes in particular are not very common in the Andes); drum sets consisting of groups of traditional drums (bombos, tinyas, cajas) and rural versions of some percussion instruments such as snare drums; the pampapiano, a pump organ manufactured and played in Cusco (Peru); and different versions of violin, guitar and harp locally made, which often does not comply with the standard model (usually the one preferred).

The various types of Andean charangos, guitarrillas and bandurrias can also be regarded as "adaptations" drawn from a number of European string instruments, brought to South America during the conquest and colonization of those lands.


Video 09. "Chirisuya" playing (chirimía, a member of the shawm family, from the Peruvian Andes) in honor of the Virgin of Cocharcas (Apurímac, Peru).
Video 10. "Clarineta" played alogside a group (tropa) of de mohoceños of Sica Sica (La Paz, Bolivia). The instrument can be briefly seen and heard at some points in the video (e.g. minute 1:26).
Video 11. Pampapiano, harp, violin and quena, playing huaynos of Cusco (Peru).
Video 12. "Violin" of Chumbivilcas (Peru) played by Leónidas Layme Valdez ("Maytucuy", traditional huaylía).
Video 13. Chillador, guitar and khonkhota (guitarrilla) from Norte Potosí (Potosí, Bolivia) ("Falsas promesas", jiyawa).
Video 14. Chinlili of Chuschi (Ayacucho, Peru), played by Sumaq Huayta and Quriwayllas ("Distrito Chuschi", chimaycha).

Borrowings, adaptations and innovations

In the hands of Andean luthiers, some instruments developed new shapes and designs while others were created anew. Many of these "innovations" found their way into the Andean music: numerous charango inventions (e.g. those created by Bolivian master Ernesto Cavour); experiments with materials, structures, techniques of construction and tunings (e.g. with quenas and panpipes); and fusions with elements from other parts of the world (e.g. Japanese vertical flutes or panpipes of Eastern Europe). Some of these inventions are so imaginative that they turn out to be of little practical use; others, however, have acquired certain popularity among Andean music performers worldwide.


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