The Folk Music of the Inca

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The music of the Inca has been passed down for centuries and is an important part of the country’s heritage. The folk music of the Inca is characterized by its use of traditional instruments and rhythms.

Pre-Inca music

Pre-Inca music is the music of the Andean civilizations of the pre-Hispanic era which were previously dominated by the Inca Empire. The music is still played and performed by indigenous people in the Andean region, particularly in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Andean music has its roots in the music of ancient Peru, which was highly influenced by the cultures of Mesoamerica and the Amazon basin.Andean music is characterized by its use of wind instruments, such as panpipes andflutes, as well as by its use of percussion instruments, such as drums and rattles. The most common type of Andean music is folk music, which is typically played for entertainment or ceremonial purposes.

Andean folk music has been highly influenced by Spanish colonial culture.In particular, many Andean folk songs are based on European ballads (such as “La Bamba” and “La Cucaracha”).However, Andean folk music also retains many elements of indigenous Andean culture, such as the use of quena flutes and charango guitars.

Andean folk music is typically performed by small ensembles known as bands (or sometimes Orquestas Típicas). These bands typically consist of a few singers (who may also play instruments), a drummer and one or two instrumentalists. The best-known type of Andean band is the Huayno group, which originated in Peru but is now popular throughout the Andes.

Inca music

The music of the Inca was an important part of Inca culture. Inca music was used for ritual, religious, and secular purposes. The instruments, musical styles, and musical theory of the Inca were similar to those of other cultures in the region, such as the Aymaran and Quechuan cultures. However, there were some unique aspects of Inca music, such as the use of panpipes and quenas.

The quena

The quena is a flute which is commonly used in Andean music. It is usually made of bamboo, but can also be made of other materials such as wood or plastic. The quena has six holes, which are covered by the performer’s fingers, and one hole which is left open. Quenas are often decorated with intricate carvings, and are sometimes painted in bright colors.

Quenas are traditionally played by men, but women are increasingly taking up the instrument. The quena has a range of about two octaves, and its sound has been described as “haunting” and “soaring”.

The zampoña

The zampoña is a type of Andean flute which was traditionally used by the Inca people. The zampoña consists of two rows of pipes of different lengths which are played simultaneously. The zampoña is capable of producing a range of different tones, and the music which is played on it is often very beautiful and haunting.

The charango

The charango is a traditional Andean musical instrument. It is a small guitar-like instrument with five or six pairs of strings. The body of the charango is often made from the wood of the quena, a type of South American flute.

The charango was commonly used by the Inca people and other indigenous peoples of the Andes Mountains. The instrument was used for folk music and religious ceremonies. Today, the charango is still played in many parts of South America, particularly in Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

The tiple

The tiple is a plucked-string instrument from the Andean region of South America, notably Colombia and Peru. It is the national instrument of Colombia. In Peru it is also known as the charango volteado (“turned charango”). It has 12 strings in four courses, tuned in unison or octaves.

The body of the tiple is traditionally made from armadillo shell, but modern instruments are also made from wood, metal, or plastic. The neck is fretted and the body has a pear-shaped soundbox. The strings are plucked with the fingers or a plectrum.

The tiple originated in Spain and was brought to South America by Spanish colonists. It is most commonly associated with folk music, but has also been used in popular and classical music.

The guitar

The guitar is a very popular instrument among the Inca people. It is used in a variety of traditional music styles, and has a long history in the country.

There are two main types of guitar used in Inca music: the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar. The acoustic guitar is the more traditional of the two, and is often used in folk music. It is played with the fingers or with a pick, and has a wide range of sounds that can be produced. The electric guitar is less common, but is growing in popularity. It is played with a pick and has a clearer, brighter sound than the acoustic guitar.

Post-Inca music

Though the Inca peoples’ rule ended in the 16th century, their music has continued to evolve and be popular in the Andes region. A type of music known as huayno developed in the 17th century in the highland communities and became the most popular form of Inca music. It is still popular today, though it has evolved to include elements of popular music from other cultures.

The cajón

The cajón is a classic piece of Inca folk music. It is a percussion instrument that is played with the hands. The cajón is made from a wooden box, and it has wires or straws on the top and bottom to create a buzzing sound.

The bajo quinto

The bajo quinto is a five-stringed Spanish guitar that was brought to the New World during the colonial period. It is widely used in the music of Mexico and other Latin American countries. The bajo quinto has a deep, resonant sound that is well suited to the folk music of the Inca.

The cuatro

The cuatro is a traditional stringed instrument of the Inca people of Peru. It is played with a bow, and has four strings made of llama or alpaca hair. The cuatro is used to accompany singers and dancers in traditional Inca ceremonies.

The influence of Inca music

Inca music was highly influential in the development of South American folk music. The Incas were a very powerful empire in the Andes mountains, and their music reflect this. Inca music is very rhythmic and often features percussion instruments, including drums, rattles, and gourds. Incans also used wind instruments, such as flutes and panpipes. The melodies of Inca music are often repetitive, which reflects the Incan belief that everything in the universe is connected.

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