Andean Music Course in Cusco

Music, Calendar and Cosmological Dimensions

Music, being an essential part of festivities and celebrations, for the Andean people, is much more than merely entertainment, since it is a fundamental component of its cohabitation with Nature and the Cosmos. Every instrument and type of music has its reason to be, as well as its moment and place of execution, which shows a marked difference between the Occidental musical conception and way of executing music, and music engendered through a ritual act.

In our study programs, participants will get to know Andean music, like a cultural fact, implying that this kind of focus does not only consider a musical system composed of rhythms and melodies, but that it also includes the cultural frame upon which it is developed.

ONLINE Andean music courses from an ethnomusicological perspective. For more information, just contact us here:



Considering that the holistic principle is one of the Andean culture´s characteristics, we will examine the Andean musical practice, in relation with:

  • The ceremonial calendar, agricultural seasons and plants´ growing cycle: Chants, sound production and musical instruments fulfill specific functions, in the ceremonial calendar and plant crops.
  • The animals´ reproduction cycle: Specific rites and music which are associated to each species of animal.
  • The human beings´ life cycle and sexed distribution of musical roles: In this topic, participants will discover the way in which musical practices are associated to the humans´ life cycle and, in addition, we will see the logics in role distribution, in the use of musical instruments, in which chants and dances are also defined by genre.
  • Andean astronomy, cosmology, religion and spirituality: The constellations, Milky Way and celestial bodies´ cycles are examined in this topic, as well as the religious system, notion of the sacred, cosmology and ecology, from the indigenous perspective.

Musical genres to be interpreted:

Tarkeadas and pinkilladas:

  • tarkeadas
  • We use vertical flutes, called tarkas and pinkillus, coming from the high plains (Puno – Bolivia). Their use corresponds to the humid season.
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Tarkeada sample

Qhaswas, pinkillus and lawitas:

  • qhaswas
  • The qhaswa is a genre which is sung, and it is associated with rites of the humid or Carnival´s season. The chants are accompanied by pinkillus or lawitas, depending on the area. This topic will be useful, especially, to appreciate the sequences of chants, synchronized with the rituals´ phases.
Pinkuyllu, qhaswa sample

Chakiri or the Ch´unchus´ music:

  • qoylluriti
  • This genre is interpreted with transverse flutes called pitos, and percussions, which corresponds to pilgrimage music, in Cusco, as well as to religious festivities. Transverse flutes are of pre-Colombian origin, as well, and participants will find-out how music and instruments are associated to celestial bodies´ cycles, worshipping the male element, and are involved in passage rites.
Chakiri music sample


The analysis of the structure of musical instruments, classifications and sound production techniques will lead participants to get closer to the matrix of the Andean musical system which currently pulsates in the Andes. In this topic, we will first and foremost focus on the musical instruments which are presently in use in high Andean communities.

Specific focuses:

  • Sound classification criteria
  • Instrumental formation criteria (Orchestras, ensembles and formations of traditional musical groups)
  • Criteria of textual composition and arrangements used by Andean musicians.

Musical genres to be interpreted:


  • sikureadas
  • Traditional pan flute music in which participants execute the melody, while using the interlocked technique. In many cases, singing is also part of songs. There is diversity of groove styles, as well as of interlocked techniques and instrumentations. The coordinated execution of the flute and percussion, together with simultaneous dancing is one of the peculiarities of the sikuri genre.
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Sikuri sample


Archaeology shows us a huge diversity of musical instruments passed-on to us by pre-Hispanic civilizations, such as vertical and horizontal flutes, whistling bottles, trumpets, percussions and rattles, among others…

instrumentos-musicaleso, we will analyze the following aspects:

  • Organology: Classification, historical aspects, sound-production techniques.
  • Iconography: Focus from the perspective of semiology.

Types of mouth pieces

  • Morphology: Physical shape of the musical instrument.
  • Building material: Ceramic, bamboo, bone, stone, etc.

The aim of the analysis is to allow participants to discover the thought pattern and cosmo-vision the creators of these musical instruments had. Likewise, with these iconographic, ethno-historical and ethnographic data, we will see that today´s ritualized music has its roots in the pre-Hispanic time period.

Methodology: Use of archaeological instruments (replicas), as well as Power Point presentations containing descriptions and images.


The type of music we will devote ourselves to, is neither executed on specific stages, nor destined for a debut, or conceived so that an audience might appreciate and enjoy it.

  • musical-qerosCategory in which musical pieces and instruments are situated within the frame of Andean thought.
  • Roles and functions fulfilled by the practice of music, in relation with the whole community, each one of its members and the Sacred World.

Musical genres to be explored:

Music and ritual calendar of the Q´ero indigenous community, situated South-east of Cusco. Participants will discover the Q´eros´ instrumental execution and aesthetic criteria, as well as the Q´ero music´s functions, as they interpret ceremonial pieces, along with having access to audios and documental movies.



In the Andean practice of music, it is usual that dancing, the sensation and perception of one´s own corporal movement (kinesthesia), choreography, music and singing are united.

  • A multiple-faced performance: In the pieces to be interpreted in the program, we integrate music, choreographic movement and displacement.
  • Dances and their symbolisms: Dances convey information, through costumes and choreographies, while they are associated to the ceremonial calendar. Participants will discover the functions dances fulfill in an agricultural and shepherding society such as the Andean, as they will be learning basic choreographies of traditional Andean dancing.



This topic focuses on Peruvian Amazonian music. It deals with chants used by specialists in Amazonian medicine and spirituality, in the aim of reestablishing an ill person´s health.

Specific subjects:

  • Amazonian cosmo-vision: We will explore the vision the Peruvian Amazon´s peoples have of the world, their ways of understanding nature, the human being, society and their mutual relations.
  • Function, use and role of hallucinogenic plants: The use of hallucinogenic plants is an important part of the healing sessions performed by the Amazon´s specialists.
  • The chants´ supernatural origin: In general, the Amazon´s indigenous specialists say: “The chants we use to heal were passed on to us by the plants´ spirits”, referring themselves to the chants they use in their healing sessions. So, we will explore the specialists´ criteria and logics in the use of healing chants.