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Inca Music


The Inca music melodies had only 5 tones (do, re, fa, sol, la) and it was enough to create four types of music. The first was the Haylli (War melodies); perform in the battlefield right before the fight to increase the bravery of the warriors. They also sing the songs after the battle to honor their victories. The Incas create this songs to inspire the warriors, with tells of brave acts of great warriors from the past.

The second style of Inca music was the Ayarachi (Funeral melodies); they play this music in burial ceremonies and during the grieving days. It was compose of tells about the body going to see the Pachamama (Mother earth). The songs talk about, how the body will go back to his mother, where it belongs; to perform its final mission to feed plants and animals. Other songs talk about the trip of the spirit, which will go to see the Inca God Wiracocha for the final judgment.
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    • ancient inca musical instruments
      The Incas make their instruments from bones, copper, stone or wood.
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    • inca drum
      This style of drums was use in temples or for important ceremonies.
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    • inca musical instruments
      From left to right: The Pincullo, the Quena and the small drum call Tinya.

The third style of Inca music was the Harawi (Religious melodies); they sign them specially to grow the spirituality of the people during the religious ceremonies. The songs talk about the infinite power of the Inca god Wiracocha; and the power of the smaller divinities likes the lighting, the moon and others. They also have songs with tells of the Inca Mythology; the songs explain the Incas origins and prophesies of the return of the gods.

The fourth and final style of Inca music was the Trilla-takiy (Agriculture labor melodies); the songs talk about love and anecdotes. The songs were also about funny acts that happen among the community and opinions of a large variety of subjects, like marriage, man, women and family affairs. They sing them during the agriculture working day.

They have only two kinds of Inca music instruments. The first was the percussion instruments, with a big drum call Wankar; it was use only by men. They have a smaller drum call Tinya; only play by Inca Women. They usually make them with leather of llama or alpaca. They use leather of cougars or jaguars for special drums use in special ceremonies. It was rare, but the Incas use human skin to make ceremonial Tynya drums

The second Inca instruments are the wind instruments. They use a flute call Quena (Inca flute), they make it with clay, silver, human bones and more commonly of reeds. It has a tubular shape with roughly 25 centimeters of length, five or six holes on the top and one hole at the bottom. Recently, the Peruvian government has name the Quena as Peruvian musical culture heritage. The Pincullo is the second style of Inca flute. It's similar to the Quena; but with a small piece of wood adapted to make it easy to play. The Pincullo sound is penetrating but it's less sweet than the Quena.
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    • inca pan flute
      The Inca Antara or Inca pan flute still a popular instrument in Peru.
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    • peruvian musicians
      The Peruvian musicians keep alive the old musical traditions of the Incas.
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    • pututu
      The sounds of the Pututu trumpet are deep and harmonic.

Another important Inca music wind instrument is the Antara. It's a set of tubes of equal diameter but with different length. The tubes are open in one end and close in the other. Then, all the tubes are tight and align with the open holes of the tubes one next to each other. They use reeds, clay, soft stones, gold, silver, wood and feathers of birds such as the pelican or condor. They also use bones of llama, condor and human bones.

The Incas have a horn or trumpet but it wasn't use to play Inca music. The horn or trumpet was call Huayllaquepa (known as Pututu). It's simply a big seashell. When the Spaniards arrive they change its name to Pututu. It was use in ceremonies and religious purposes. It also was use by the Chasquis (Inca runner mailman). The Chasqui play his Pututu one or two kilometers before his arrival to the Tambo (rest house). When the Chasqui in the Tambo hear the Pututu, he gets ready to start to run, with no waste of time.

The Inca music still alive and it's because Peruvian musicians from the Andes limit their instruments to have the five tones the Incas use before. The Incas culture legacy has inspired the songs of the Andes musical groups and the sound of their music. It is just like it was centuries ago. During many years the Peruvian music has been changing because the arrival of new instruments. Today, the Peruvian music has evolve into more than 1300 different genders; like for example the Marinera, Huayno, Vals criollo, Sikuri, Festejo, just to mention a few.
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