The Wind Instrument Used in Peruvian Folk Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The quena is a traditional flute from the Andes region of Peru. It is often used in Peruvian folk music and has a distinctive, high-pitched sound.

The Various Types of Peruvian Wind Instruments

Peruvian folk music is a genre of music that is commonly played at festivals and other celebrations. The music is characterized by its use of various types of wind instruments. The most common type of wind instrument used in Peruvian folk music is the zampoña.

The quena

The quena is a traditional flute from the Andean region of Peru. It is usually made from wood or bone, and has six finger holes and one thumb hole. The quena is usually played in pairs, with one player blowing into the instrument while the other provides rhythm on a drum.

The quena is an important part of Peruvian folk music, and can be heard in many traditional songs and dances.

The zampoña

The zampoña, also known as a panpipe or syrinx, is an ancient musical instrument of the Andean region of South America. Consisting of a row of pipes of varying lengths, the zampoña is held in front of the player and the pipes are blown into in order to produce a melodic sound. The zampoña is typically played by pairs of musicians, with one player blowing into the pipes while the other player strikes the pipes with their hands.

The zampoña has a long history in Peru, dating back to pre-Inca times. In fact, many archaeologists believe that the instrument was first developed by the Wari people, who lived in Peru between 600 and 1000 AD. The Wari were a highly advanced civilization and were renowned for their art, architecture, and music. It is believed that they developed the zampoña in order to imitate the sounds of nature, specifically the wind blowing through reeds or tall grasses.

Today, the zampoña is still an important part of Peruvian culture and can be heard being played at traditional festivals and ceremonies. It is also commonly used as background music in television shows and movies set in Peru or other Latin American countries.

The charango

The charango is a small, ten-stringed instrument from the strings family. It originates from the Andean region of South America, specifically Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. The name charango comes from the Quechua word for “little horn,” referencing its shape.

The instrument’s small size allows for easy portability and make it well-suited for folk music. It is most commonly used in Peruvian music, particularly in the northern area of the country. The charango is also popular in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

The charango typically has a wooden body with metal strings. It is played with the fingers or a pick, and sometimes with a bow. Charangos come in a variety of sizes, with the most common being between 35 and 45 centimeters long.

The charango is a versatile instrument that can be used for a variety of genres, including folk, rock, jazz, and classical music.

The Different Styles of Peruvian Folk Music

Peruvian folk music is a genre of music that has been around for centuries. It is a type of music that is typically passed down from generation to generation. Peruvian folk music is characterized by its use of traditional instruments, such as the quena, zampoña, and charango.


One of the most popular genres of music in Peru is Huayno, a style that developed in the central highlands. This folk music is traditionally played on a variety of flutes and string instruments, with the most common being the zampoña (a type of panpipe) and the charango (a small guitar-like instrument).

The music of Huayno is often used for traditional dances, such as the famous Peruvian dance known as the huayno. This dance is performed by couples who steps side to side in time with the music.

The lyrics of Huayno songs often deal with themes of love and loss, as well as the daily life and struggles of Peru’s rural farmers.


The cajón is a percussion instrument originally from Peru, though it is now also popular in other parts of Latin America, the Caribbean, and even Europe. It is typically a wooden box (hence the name) with a hole in the top and strings on the inside that create aunique sound when the box is struck with both hands.

The cajón has become an integral part of Peruvian folk music, particularly in the Afro-Peruvian tradition. In this style of music, the cajón provides both the rhythm and melody, with the latter being created by striking different parts of the box in different ways. The resulting sound is often described as “heartfelt” and “haunting.”

If you’re interested in exploring Peruvian folk music further, be sure to check out our playlist of cajónero tunes!


Chicha music is a style of Peruvian folk music which originated in the Amazonian region of Peru. Chicha is usually played on a type of guitar known as the cajón, which is a box-shaped percussion instrument. The music is typically upbeat and often incorporates indigenous musical styles and instruments.

The History of Peruvian Folk Music

Pre-Columbian Era

It is believed that the first wind instruments in Peru were made from hollowed out logs, bone, and clay. These early instruments were used for both religious ceremonies and warfare. The most commonly found type of instrument from this period is the pututu, a trumpet-like instrument with a conicalshaped body that was blown through a hole in the side.

Other instruments from this period include the quena, a flute-like instrument made from a reed; the zampoña, an Andean panpipe; and the Antara, a type of double flute. It is believed that these instruments were played primarily by men, as women were not allowed to participate in religious ceremonies.

The arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century brought about changes in Peruvian music. The Spaniards brought with them their own musical traditions, which began to mix with the existing ones. Instruments such as the guitar and viola were introduced, and new genres such as laude and tonada began to develop. Religious music also changed, with new hymns and sacred music being introduced by the Catholic Church.

During the colonial period, folk music continued to evolve. African slaves were brought to Peru, resulting in the introduction of new rhythms and instruments such as the cajón (a wooden box drum) and African drums. The indigenous population was also forced to work in mines and on plantations, which led to further cultural mixing and the development of new musical styles such as Afro-Peruvian music.

Peruvian folk music has continued to evolve over the centuries, incorporating influences from a variety of different cultures. Today, it is an important part of Peruvian identity and can be heard at traditional festivals and celebrations throughout the country.

The Colonial Period

During the Colonial Period, the Spaniards introduced several new musical instruments to Peru, including the guitar, vihuela (a type of small guitar), harp, violin and flute. The African slaves who were brought to Peru by the Spaniards also brought with them drums and other percussion instruments. These new instruments were combined with traditional Andean instruments, such as the quena (a type of flute), charango (a type of small guitar) and zampoña (a type of panpipe), to create a unique style of music known as Peruvian folk music.

Peruvian folk music is characterized by its use of rhythm and melody, as well as its focus on the common people and their everyday lives. The lyrics of Peruvian folk songs often deal with themes such as love, death, nature and religion. Some famous Peruvian folk songs include “El Cóndor Pasa” (“The Condor Passes”), “La Bamba” (“The Dance”) and “La Flama Enamorada” (“The Enamored Flame”).

Peruvian folk music has been influence by a number of different musical styles, including Spanish flamenco, Andean music, Cuban salsa and even North American rock and roll. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Peruvian folk music, both in Peru and abroad. This has led to the formation of numerous folk music bands which fuse traditional folk style with modern influences.

The Republican Period

The Republican Period in Peru (1821-1930) was a time of considerable evolution and transformation for all aspects of Peruvian culture, including music. Folk music underwent a significant transformation during this time, as traditional Andean musical styles began to mix with African and European influences. One of the most important changes to folk music during this period was the introduction of new instruments, particularly the wind instrument known as the zampoña.

The zampoña is a type of panpipe that originated in the Andes Mountains. It is made up of a row of pipes of different lengths, each tuned to a different note. The zampoña is played by blowing into the end of one of the pipes while simultaneously blocking the other openings with the fingers. This produces a clear, pure tone that can be heard over long distances.

The zampoña quickly became popular among folk musicians in Peru, and it continues to be an important part of Peruvian music today. It is often used in traditional Andean music, as well as in more modern styles such as cumbia and chicha. If you ever have a chance to see a Peruvian folk band perform, be sure to listen for the distinctive sound of the zampoña!

The Influence of Peruvian Folk Music

Peruvian folk music has been around for centuries and has been influenced by many different cultures. One of the most prominent instruments used in this type of music is the quena. The quena is a flute-like instrument that is made from the Andean hardwood of the quihua tree. This instrument has a very unique sound that is often used in traditional Peruvian folk songs.

On other genres of music

As with any other type of music, Peruvian folk music has had an influence on other genres of music. For instance, the zampoña (a type of flute) has been used in jazz, rock, and even electronic music. In addition, many artists have been inspired by the sounds and rhythms of Peruvian folk music to create their own unique versions of these songs.

On Peruvian culture

Peru is a South American country located on the western coast. The Andes mountains run through the middle of the country, and the Amazon rainforest covers the eastern part. The capital of Peru is Lima, which is located on the coast. The official language of Peru is Spanish, but there are many different indigenous languages spoken as well. The currency of Peru is the nuevo sol.

The population of Peru is around 31 million people. The main religions practiced in Peru are Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. However, there are also significant numbers of Peruvians who practice traditional Andean religions or who do not have a religious affiliation.

Peruvian music has a wide variety of influences. Spanish colonial music, African music brought by slaves, and indigenous Andean music all contributed to the development of Peruvian folk music. A major instrument used in this genre is the zampoña, which is a type of panpipe. The zampoña consists of two rows of pipes of different lengths that are played by blowing into them.

The most famous Peruvian folk song is “El Cóndor Pasa.” This song was composed by Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913 and was popularized internationally by Simon & Garfunkel in 1970.

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