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 Peruvian Instruments and Music 
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Post Peruvian Instruments and Music
Peruvian Instruments and Music
by: Gary Sargent

The music of Peru is based on the influences of Spanish colonial period music combined with sounds from the musical roots of this ancient Andean country. There are many varieties of Peruvian music including coastal Peruvian music, traditional music from the highlands, and Peru Negro which is a fusion of traditional and afro-Caribbean themes. There is another type of popular Peruvian music that is called Huayano and is very much like Pre-Columbian music. Coastal Peruvian music has a fusion style while Andean Peruvian music is native to Peru.

Established in 1969, Peru Negro is an Afro-Peruvian style of music designed to celebrate and conserve the black culture and heritage of the Peruvian coast. It gained a reputation as it rescued conventional dance and music and became internationally recognized with the release of the album, "The Soul of Black Peru", with songs from popular Peru Negro singers. In 2001, Time Square records released the first international recording of the song "Sangre de un Don". At the time Peru Negro had only twelve members but has since grown to thirty, all of whom are very talented.

The charango is the national instrument of Peru and forms a major part in much Peruvian music. It has five strings and is similar to a mandolin or ukulele. It can have a harp-like quality if it is played as a plucked instrument but can have a stronger and more rhythmic sound if played as a strumming instrument.

Other instruments used in Peruvian music are lutes, guitars, bandurrias, vihuelas, pan pipes, and rattles made from llama toenails! A very simple instrument, very popular along the coast is the "Cajon" which means "box". It is a rectangular wooden box which has a whole in to emit sound and is simply drummed with the hands while the player sits on it!

The pan pipe is an instrument made up of five or more pipes that increase gradually in size and length, based on the principle of the closed tube, which is a tube that is closed at one end and plays a single frequency. It has long been considered a popular folk instrument and has been determined to be the predecessor to the pipe organ and harmonica. Materials that make up the pipes of the pipe organ are typically bamboo or giant cane but can also be wood, plastic and metal.

The bandurria is a type of chordophone which is an instrument that makes its sounds by means of vibrating strings between two points. It was used primarily in Spanish folk music and is similar to the mandolin. The modern bandurria has twelve strings which are tuned in pairs and is classified as part of the Hornbostel Sachs set of musical instruments.

The vihuela is a type of guitar or lute derived from fifteenth and sixteenth century Spain, where its "Christian" shape made it gain popularity over the lute derived from Arabia. It typically has six strings and is very comfortable to hold. Some vihuelas do not have octave stringing in the bass but each design works equally as well for its sound which is very resonant, sweet and bright. Known as "chapchas", the llama toenail rattles are a type of percussion instrument. They are worn on the wrists while playing the drums.

When in Peru you are certain to hear the sounds of pan pipes whilst in the Andes and of course the Amazon has its own styles. In addition to traditional music you will of course hear plenty of salsa, merengue and Latin pop should you choose to sample the nightlife.

About The Author
Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and has lived in South America since 1998. Gary is passionate about life here, the people, customs and places. Visit Gary's website for more Peru travel advice or to book your next Peru vacation at
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Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:56 am
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