In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Andean Music

  • Introduction
  • Reference, General Overviews, and Field Recording Anthologies
  • Special Editions and Edited Collections
  • Journals
  • Online Resources
  • Music Archaeology
  • Inca Music
  • Colonial and Republican Periods
  • Indigenismo (“Indigenism”) and Indianism
  • Rural and Urban Intersections, and Multi-sited Ethnography
  • Andean Music in Transnational Contexts
  • Nueva Canción/New Song
  • Neo-folklore/Pan-Andean Music
  • Media, Recording, and the Music Industries
  • Global Styles and Fusions
  • Musical Instruments: Organology, Surveys, and Reference
  • Musical Instruments: Ethnography, Construction, and Analysis

Latin American Studies Andean Music
Henry Stobart, Fiorella Montero-Diaz
  • LAST REVIEWED: 31 July 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 July 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0223


“Andean music” might be defined as the musical expressions of the geographical region encompassed by the Andes Mountains. Nonetheless, Andean genres have sometimes undergone important developments outside the region (for example in Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Paris), or have received important contributions from individuals without Andean heritage. The expression “Andean music” tends primarily to be applied to genres that might be characterized as indigenous or folkloric, or popular genres that incorporate such elements. Research of such music is typically historical or ethnographic in approach. The Andes Mountains pass through Columbia, Argentina, and Chile, but Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are commonly identified as the “Andean countries.” In these latter nations, the Andean zone is of special geographical, demographic, and cultural importance. However, even in Bolivia—arguably one of the most Andean countries of the region—only one-third of the country is geographically Andean; the majority of Bolivia’s land area is taken up by the more sparsely populated Eastern “Amazonian” lowlands. While such geographical differences are sometimes accompanied by marked cultural distinctions, a variety of cultural continuities may also be found. Highland/lowland relations have, since the earliest times, been characterized by the exchanges of products and cultural elements between different niches of the region’s vertical ecology. For example, canes and woods used to construct the musical instruments played in the Andean highlands are often derived from tropical lowland areas. The study of Andean music has been notable for its strong historical dimension, informed by archaeological work, accounts of chroniclers following the European invasion (from the 1530s), and other sources. In the first half of the 20th century, studies of Andean music sometimes approached indigenous people and their music as impoverished survivals from an imagined “glorious Inca past,” and until the 1980s few music studies—by national or international scholars—were based on extended field research. More critical perspectives based on extensive ethnographic research, and reacting against structuralism and essentialist approaches, began to appear following the reflexive turn in anthropology of the late 1980s (e.g., Thomas Turino, Raul Romero, Zoila Mendoza). This critical edge was further heightened by the revisionism in Andean anthropology of the 1990s (perhaps best exemplified in the work of Michelle Bigenho and Jonathan Ritter), sparked by Orin Starn’s critique “Missing the Revolution” (1991). Starn accused anthropologists—sometimes unfairly—of idealizing native people as the noble inheritors of pure ancient traditions—lo andino—while failing to notice the rise of Peru’s devastating internal war between Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and the military. Such developments—alongside greater ethnomusicological concern for urban contexts; popular music; mass media; and the rise of indigenous politics, digital media, and piracy—has stimulated new scholarly approaches during the 2000s and 2010s. Among recent research currents, often set against a backdrop of contemporary indigenous politics, are themes such as the explosion in heritage declarations, the escalation of fusions or coproductions between rural and urban middle- and upper-class musicians, and new approaches to material culture.

Reference, General Overviews, and Field Recording Anthologies

Overviews and edited volumes that consider multiple countries are rare, as most Andean music research has been conducted within national frameworks. The pioneering pan-Andean study d’Harcourt and d’Harcourt 1925 is of interest as a historical document; while dated, it is notable for its rigor and moments of contemporary relevance. Stevenson 1968 also took a pan-Andean approach, drawing on examples from several regions that came under Inca rule; this text remains a key reference work and is arguably one of the most authoritative historical overviews. Reference resources that offer details of Andean music in a number of different countries include Olsen and Sheehy 1998 (Volume 2 of Garland Encyclopedia of World Music) and Sadie 2001 (The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians), and in a more narrative form, Kuss 2004. A more recent textbook-style introduction, incorporating a CD and mainly focused on Peru, is Turino 2008. Anthologies of field recordings that incorporate extensive, descriptive notes include Romero 1995–2002 and Cohen 1991–1994 for Peru, and Baumann 1982 and Flety and Martínez 1992 for Bolivia. Audio anthologies are available for most Andean countries (see, for example, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and Collection du Musée de l’Homme); the quality and detail of the accompanying notes varies.

  • Baumann, Max Peter, comp. Musik im andenhochland: Bolivien. 2 LPs. Museum Collection Berlin (West) 14. Hamburg, Germany: Teldec “Telefunken-Decca” Schallplatten, 1982.

    A fine anthology of recordings of Bolivian rural music with detailed notes (in German and English), photographs, and many music transcriptions. This important collection has yet to be rereleased in digital format. For a Spanish-language equivalent, see Baumann’s Música andina de Bolivia, LPLI/S-062 (Cochabamba, Bolivia: Lauro Records International, 1979).

  • Cohen, John, comp. Mountain Music of Peru. SFW40020–SFW40406. 2 CDs. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Folkways, 1991–1994.

    A fine anthology of field recordings from various parts of Peru by John Cohen. CD 2 features a number of recordings and extensive notes by Thomas Turino.

  • d’Harcourt, Raoul, and Marguerite d’Harcourt. La Musique des Incas et ses Survivances. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1925.

    Extended sections on musical instruments, feast contexts, indigenous and mestizo genres, musical characteristics and song texts, with over two hundred analyzed transcriptions. Pre-Hispanic and contemporary practices are interrelated and compared with material from Mexico and elsewhere. A second volume includes thirty-nine photographic plates depicting instruments and performers. Spanish-language edition: Roberto Miro Quesada, trans., La Música de los Incas y sus Supervivencias (Lima, Peru: Mosca Azul Editores, 1990).

  • Flety, Bruno, and Rosalía Martínez, comps. Bolivia: Calendar Music in the Central Valleys. LDX 274938. CD. Paris: CNRS–Muséee de l’Homme, 1992.

    This fine anthology of rural music recordings focuses on the central highlands and valleys of Bolivia. It includes excellent notes by Rosalía Martínez.

  • Kuss, Malena, ed. Music and Latin America and the Caribbean: An Encyclopedic History. Vol. 1, Performing Beliefs: Indigenous Peoples of South America, Central America, and Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004.

    Several useful general essays on Andean regions and a revealing comparative study of aerophones from various regions.

  • Olsen, Dale, and Daniel Sheehy, eds. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. New York and London: Garland, 1998.

    Useful general overviews of the music in Andean countries (under country headings) and incorporates a CD. Includes separate essays dedicated to Quechua and Aymara indigenous language groups, and the Peruvian Q’ero.

  • Romero, Raúl, comp. and prod. Traditional Music of Peru. SFW40451–SFW40466. 8 CDs. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Folkways, 1995–2002.

    Coproduced with Archivo de Musica Tradicional Andino, Lima, Peru. A fine series of CDs of field recordings, each focusing on different regions of Peru, and accompanied by extensive notes. (Also see Romero’s Sonidos Andinos: Una antología de la música campesina del Perú, 2 CDs (Lima, Peru: Instituto Riva-Agüero de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2002.)

  • Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 29 vols. London: Macmillan, 2001.

    Available in revised and expanded form as Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online (New York: Oxford University Press). The New Grove does not include an entry for “Andean music.” Useful overviews of the Andean zone are found under country entries (with expanded bibliographies in the online version). Informative entries are also included for several Andean musical genres and instruments.

  • Stevenson, Robert. Music in Aztec and Inca Territory. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1968.

    Less than one-third of this 378-page book is dedicated to the Inca area. Nonetheless, it remains an important point of reference for the study of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and a few aspects of republican music in the Andean region.

  • Turino, Thomas. Music in the Andes: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

    Student-focused, but highly informative, textbook with audio CD. Features a variety of rural and urban-based case studies in Peru. The final chapter explores cosmopolitan aspects and includes more references to Bolivia. Excellent introduction, albeit largely based on 1980s research.

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