Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Music of Peru

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Peru is where the indigenous population built one of the greatest pre-Columbian civilizations of America - the Empire of the Incas. The Inca Empire extended from Quito, in Ecuador to northern Chile in the south, Peru suffered one of the main waves of Spanish colonial conquest, Living and cultural patterns developed by the Spaniards were superimposed upon the indigenous population.

During the early centuries of the conquest, native dances and instruments were considered dangerous. The church fought the indigenous art on religious grounds. In 1614, the Archbishop of Lima mandated that all native musical instruments were to be burned.

Pre-Columbian Peru seems to have had an active musical life as judged from musical instruments excavated from prehistoric ruins. Pan-pipes, flutes, whistles, rattles, bells and trumpets made out of pottery, shell, bone, wood or metal were found. This is when the Spaniards introduced string instruments into Peru.

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Therefore, the music of Peru is respected and valued. Although Spaniards attempted to restrain Inca music and dance, a syncretism developed associating much of the indigenous music and dance with Church holidays so that the Catholic Church, in spite of itself, preserved some original forms.

The music of Peru had been brought down from generation to generation in the oral tradition of the Indians, to the offspring of the Incas.

During the 16th century, the Spaniards introduced the harp and the mandolin into Peru. The mandolin structurally underwent specific changes in Peru. These changes were primarily in size and later became the charango. This instrument is the favourite string instrument of Southern Peru and Bolivia it is used as a solo instrument for courtship and as accompaniment to singing, and as a member of larger ensembles that often include kena flutes, violins guitars, drums and other native and Spanish derived sounds.

The pentatonic scale seems to have been the scale used in Peru from ancient or certainly pre-Hispanic times, since the pentatonic scale was virtually unknown in Spain.

The official language of Peru is Spanish; however Quechua and Aymara continue to be spoken, especially in the highlands.

Andean Music/ Folk Music.

The central Andean regions of the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile are among the richest in the world with regard to a variety of musical and folkloric traditions. Long before the Spanish conquest, and even before the Inca civilization, the diverse native cultures of the region had rich musical traditions. Ancient tombs have yielded flutes, trumpets, drums, and other musical artifacts many ceramic jars found in ancient tombs depict musical instruments being used in various contexts that are difficult to interpret.

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